Midas, widely remember as the foolish mythological king whose avarice led to his self-inflicted downfall, provides the inspiration for Snob Solutions’ Mijo – Mazdey Snob’s pimped up tale of a young dreamer blessed with the doomed king’s gift. A talented Mexican born director, screenwriter, creative producer and art director, Snob’s fashion film sees her beloved Mexico and its citizens take centre stage, channelling the city’s modern spirit while showcasing the garments of members of a counter culture known for their self-empowered rhetoric and pride in their roots. Joining us today, Mazdey talks to DN about the importance of creating a collaborative short that not only acts as a tribute to her love of magical realism but is a reflection of the melding of tradition and modernity that is Mexico today which also showcases the rich creative talents who consider it home.
How did the infamously foolish King Midas inspire you to create this celebration of Mexican culture and fashion?
I wanted Mijo to be a Mexican fairy tale, created within elements of our culture and our streets. I chose the myth of King Midas and transformed it into something more authentic to Mexico and added a comedic twist. To provide Mijo with some innocence when receiving his power I gave him a dreamy and tender personality in contrast to the greedy king Midas. The wardrobe is inspired by Pachucos from the 40s which is a style of fashion often represented in Mexico and that has also been a symbol of migrant resistance in the US. The whole film is a collaboration with independent local artists, showcasing Mexican tailoring, fashion and music and brings together so many elements of my culture which I rarely see represented on film or in a positive way.
I wanted to create a film to empower us as racialized people, but I did not want to continue using the discourse of “look here we are and we matter” or “please represent us” within the film. I wanted to create a story for us within our own universe showing that we are more than aesthetics and using our local fashion design. I chose representation through fantasy because I feel like it has been taken from us, those stories usually happen in distant lands and amongst those with whom you often don’t identify. When I was a child I loved fantasy films but nothing looked like where I grew up.
I wanted to create a story for us within our own universe showing that we are more than aesthetics and using our local fashion design.
Creating a fantasy short in my own context, my streets and with elements that I have grown up with, has been something very healing and beautiful. The locations where we recorded were a couple of blocks from where I lived at the time, in my own neighbourhood which fills me with pride. It is a very detailed production with lots of props, locations and elements that create a unique universe with identity, we even produced the recording of a song cover. The most difficult thing was to complete all those details knowing that we had a small budget but we did it.
I asked Viridiana Lopéz, part of the Mijo team “what the film meant to her” and her reply reflected my own thoughts – “When I saw Mijo I was very moved, realizing that it is a creation in which I see myself, one in which my identity as Mexican takes part; the alleys like the neighbourhood where I grew up, the decorations of the Merced market on the city cables, a protagonist who looks like me, the magic, the colors, the tenderness, the dreams and also the lessons. Mijo matters to me because it is a creation that I would have liked to see as a child to feel recognized because it is built from images that identify me as a Mexican.”
Through your initial scripting, how were you able to balance the comedic elements you spoke about with the inevitable self-sabotaging ending of King Midas and his golden touch?
I think that by changing the rules of the original myth and injecting the fashion side the story needed to be a comedy but I gave it that punishing twist at the end when Mijo loses a bit of his innocence and turns himself into gold. It seemed to me that it would have more of an impact and instantly remind us of the original myth. As I imagined it as a tale, I wanted the first scene to be an analogy of opening the cover of the book and entering into that world which is why it starts with a lot of movement, with Mijo walking towards his destiny. The end is a contrast, we leave Mijo static, turned into gold and the camera moves away. We leave the story and we close the book. I think all stories can be adapted to any genre depending on your point of view. But as Guillermo del Toro once said; because I’m Mexican, it’s part of my culture. In Mexico we can experience very hostile scenarios and one way to survive is through humor.
I think all stories can be adapted to any genre depending on your point of view.
Why do you find yourself drawn towards the creation of fashion films?
I love the language of fashion films and the creative possibilities. You can express abstract concepts, explore new narrative forms and create a film that has a meaningful or social message. I am also drawn to the idea of building stories around clothes not only as advertising but also as identity. I believe that the medium of fashion films is still taking shape and there is a lot of openness to experimentation and there are a lot of beautiful videos that have found their place in this new world.
Why did the fashion of Pachucos speak to you specifically for this film?
I knew the fashion of the Pachucos from my childhood and through the Mexican movies of the 40s-50s, especially those of Tin Tan who was a comedian. In his films he portrayed his working class characters and that of a Pachuco. I was always drawn to this as it gave him a lot of presence on the screen, to me it seemed very elegant and timeless. It was different from what you saw in the movies at the time and I think Tin Tan was also looking for positive representation in his own way and in his time.
You have spoken about how much the story means to you, how did you then find the right cast and team to bring those ideas to life?
In addition to directing I was also in charge of production design, styling and also producing. There were many responsibilities at once and I gave my one hundred per cent not to neglect any of them and keep the team inspired. I already had a lot of the people in mind when creating the script, I had already worked with Gerardo Rocha who plays Mijo in a previous video and I loved his profile, his way of projecting. Mijo was written with him in mind and I was thrilled he wanted to play the role as it couldn’t have been anyone else. The same came for Dolores Black – I wrote scenes based on her and her work which I followed closely on Instagram and loved. I also followed Alejandra Soto on Instagram and she was perfect for the project.
While in production I had the support of Viridiana Lopez and Cristina Prado and their work is simply wonderful. I felt very comfortable working with them and they knew Marielos Coronel who was in charge of the makeup and did a fantastic job. They put all of their hearts into the project and created Mijo alongside me. I am very grateful to them for being part of it.
Mijo couldn’t sound any other way and it’s great to see how the music gives him strength and identity.
I knew that Mijo’s soundtrack should be strong and should take us to his world. Songs are Afro-Peruvian rhythms which inspire me. Mijo couldn’t sound any other way and it’s great to see how the music gives him strength and identity. I follow the musicians of Jarana Beat on social media and I really like their music. Their song Diablos! was what Mijo needed. So I wrote and told them about the project hoping that they’d let me use it for the short. Fortunately they say yes!.
Manov who designed Mijo’s biker jacket is a designer with whom I have worked on several projects and I knew he was the one to create such an important piece. I am very happy and grateful to everyone for agreeing to participate.
How do you manage all of the roles you undertook with such finesse?
I always try to have a meticulous shooting plan and am very clear with my ideas. I nourish myself with information and references from the pre-production right until the end. I divided my time in each area but I always gave priority to directing because it is what unites everything. Planning is so important as it prepares you for setbacks. As you know, in production things do not always turn out as expected but you must be able to work with what is available. Make it work and be consistent with the world you are creating. It is not about sacrificing quality, it’s about how to respond to and solve the problems in order to keep things going. The whole process becomes more personal and for me, creating aesthetics is of the utmost importance.
I nourish myself with information and references from the pre-production right until the end.
What are you working on next?
I just moved to Spain permanently and I’m excited to find new projects to work on. I’d like to collaborate with different artists and see what stories can be told. I am open to proposals from anyone who is interested in my work. I also don’t rule out the possibility of traveling to Mexico whenever I can to work.