A model, a photographer, and a fashion designer work together to prepare an extravagant dress for its first reveal at a high-profile gala. As tensions between them start to rise, their game for control begins to have increasingly high-stakes. As they slowly descend into madness, it appears the dress itself may hold the most power.
Three characters – a model, a photographer, and a fashion designer – work together in the 11th hour of preparing an extravagant dress for its first reveal at a high-profile gala. As tensions between them start to rise, their struggle for power and dominance takes on increasingly high-stakes consequences. As they slowly descend into madness, our characters fail to notice that the dress itself may hold the most power…
References: Helmut Newton Photography.
Who are we?
We the core "Halter" team, are a group of young filmmakers, all eager to work on projects that are thematically and visually innovative. We’re recent film school graduates, and have worked together previously on student films that are now making the festival circuit. Halter is our first independent short film.
Gianluca Giordimaina (Director, Co-Writer and Co-producer), started working on the initial concept for this story a year ago. Sharing his ideas for the project with his friends and film-colleagues, he quickly formed a passion-driven creative team, who have been fervently working on the pre-production of the film for the past 6 months. Throughout the collaboration between Gianluca and the rest of the team - Swaen Lievestro, cinematographer and co-producer; Tibet Boyer, co-writer and 1st assistant director; Alonso A. Anza, graphic designer and editor; Samantha Hobart, costume designer; and Max Cave, composer - Halter has rapidly grown into a fully rounded production. We’re now ready to transition into shooting it, but we just need a final funding push - which is where we need your help!
Gianluca, director (top) and Swaen, cinematographer (bottom) on set.
Halter is a story of fighting for power and control on an interpersonal level, as well as within the entertainment business. Throughout the film we will explore how social and professional hierarchies function, but also investigate a dichotomy of seeing, and being seen. This has deep roots in psychology (where it is often reduced to the archetypal male/female paradigm) and is the bedrock of the fashion as well as the film industry - where perception and the careful manipulation of image is key. Film is the perfect medium where a story that is about the very nature of the gaze can be explored in a visceral and subjective way. It addresses the ways we impose our own gaze, but also the vulnerability and power that can come from the gaze of others. Utilising the full gamut of thematically suggestive lighting, expressionistic lensing, point of view shots and more, we can immerse the audience in the perspectives of each of our three main characters.
Reference: Helmut Newton photographs Karl Lagerfeld.
Collision between mediums: Fashion and Film
Our aesthetic ambition with this project is to not just craft a film set in the world of fashion, but to give the craft and art of fashion a central role in the film. Halter is a reflection of the fashion industry in a way that has not been explored on screen thus far, and will be holistically informed by it. Our aim is to bring something akin to the theatricality and gothic storytelling of something like a peak Alexander McQueen show, to not only the costumes, but also to the visual design and tone of the film.
The cinematography will be black and white, and draws little inspiration from cinema, but rather from classic fashion photographers like Peter Lindbergh, Helmut Newton, Horst P. Horst and Lillian Bassman. We want to lull viewers into a sense of familiarity and nostalgia with the style of the visuals, to then bluntly subvert them later. It will be as if these elegant photos have come to life, only to reveal the decay beneath them. Having adapted specific characteristics from these photographers, we will incorporate harsh shadows, high contrast, slight underexposure and primarily long lenses to create a shallow depth of field. The interior scenes will heavily rely on high-angle lighting and back light. In combination with imagery like silhouettes, shadow plays, reflections, and sculptural lighting, this will result in stark references to 20th century fashion photography.
We will be shooting on an Arri Amira camera, using a set of vintage Russian lenses - originally photographic, but rehoused for cinema. Combining Arri’s exceptional dynamic range with the unique characteristics of a vintage photographic lens will create a one-of-a-kind look, producing an image both high-quality and realistic as well as subtly distorted and nostalgia-inducing. Nestling these stylistic choices and technologies around the characters involved with preparing a dress for a MET Gala-esque event, allows us to explore them in a highly dramatic and dynamic way that is rich in subtext.
Reference: Horst P. Horst photographs Helen Bennett.
Reference: photography of The Dress.
The Costume Design
The titular dress is a reinvention of a classic halter dress. It will be made with a thin, black translucent fabric, adorned with layers of broken jewellery and glass beads. These will be draped in an organic way, with the beading delicately following a subtle skeletal structure. Very finely placed splits along the side will give the dress an elegant, enigmatic quality. At times it will feel as if the dress is floating by itself, completely absorbing the model wearing it - with the diamonds and beads shimmering in a void like stars. The model, sensing that the attention is on the dress instead of her, will pull on a loose thread in a moment of desperation, creating a small but notable rip in the fabric. She will make the rip along her ribs, which follows the imagery of the bone-like beading. The actress will feel the weight of the beads and jewellery and this too will add to the performance, as the heaviness will feel slightly restrictive.
In black and white, the different textures of the dress will be particularly striking. The other characters will wear complementary dark shades, with different but similarly striking textures like leather and latex.
Samantha Hobart’s costume design drawings for Diana, the Model (above) and Elena, the Fashion Designer (below).
The score is going to follow suit with the rest of the film in feeling out of time with modern touches. It will be composed by creating passages of music for the sole purpose of sampling. Those will then be recorded to analog tape, degraded, and then converted back to digital. These will then be sampled, looped, pitched, sped or slowed and used in the final pieces of music. Every piece in the film is a sample of a sample, a ghost of the original piece it was derived from.
Listen to our inspiration playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/54UUnMu1uZ96I2PMAVM2zu?si=0103d08e9b094095
Crew and Cast
Gianluca Giordimaina - Writer, Director and Co-producer
Gianluca is a director and photographer based in London. His father’s interest in photography allowed him to get his hand on a camera early, and he began making short films from the age of six. Having lived in Italy, the United States and Germany, Gianluca began to use filmmaking as a way to interpret and express his view of the changing environments around him. Over the years, he has accumulated a catalogue of shorts, music videos, as well as corporate material. Most recently he graduated with a First Degree (BA Hons) in filmmaking from the London Film Academy.
This film presents a personal mixture of the black and white photography he grew up studying with his father, a world he has bonded over with some of his closest friends and themes he has long wanted to marry with filmmaking.
Swaen Lievestro - Cinematographer and Co-producer
Swaen is a cinematographer and photographer with a devotion to thematic visual storytelling. She got into photography at a young age, and started taking photos on black and white 35mm film in her teens, which she developed and printed herself in a bathroom turned into a home-made darkroom. Having admired films as a spectator for a long time, she then decided to transition from stills into moving images herself.
Swaen recently graduated from the London Film Academy with a 1st degree (Hons), and previously studied film theory at the University of Amsterdam. She is eager to start her career as a cinematographer, and enjoys working in different roles across the camera and lighting department.
Seeing and being seen, and the interplay between active and passive within a film are themes she has been passionate about for a long time, and is hungry to explore them more with her cinematography on Halter.
Tibet Boyer - Co-writer and 1st Assistant Director
Tibet is an American Writer and 1st AD who is currently based in London. Coming from a family of writers and creatives, Tibet has been writing since a very young age. His work covers scripts for film and theatre as well as poetry and pros. He has won 1st place in two Poetry competitions and performed his work live at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen Colorado. While attending film school, three of his original scripts were selected for filming, and he found a secondary passion as an Assistant Director. Since then he has worked on over 10 short films and music videos as an AD and is excited to continue working in both fields
Shortly after graduating from the London Film Academy in 2021, he began working with Director Gianluca Giordimania on the script for Halter, and is very excited to continue to bring life to this project.
As Co-writers, The two have collaborated together on other projects prior to Halter including a ten minute short film, Everybody Knows (2021), and Enraptured (2022) a three minute short film created for AGBO's 'No Sleep Till Film Fest'.
Max Cave - Composer
Max is a London based composer, specialising in writing ambient, experimental and electronic music. He has worked on several short film projects, each with their own unique sound palate, and a recent film project was recognised for best short at multiple international film festivals. He is also a member of Silkarmour, an experimental electronic group with an emphasis on alternative production techniques and sound design. In recent months they have released a single named ‘Folk.’
Samantha Hobart - Costume Designer
Samantha graduated from the University of the Arts London in 2021 with a 1st in costume design.
Immediately after completing her degree, she was chosen as the winner of the internationally prestigious Patterns for Performance Competition, hosted by the Costume Society and judged by BAFTA winning costume designer Michele Clapton (Game of Thrones).
The costume Samantha designed and made for this competition went on to be exhibited across multiple locations in Central London, and was featured in magazines and editorials such as Schön! Magazine and The Thread, whilst another of her degree-show costumes is due to be featured in Vogue Portugal’s September issue.
She then pursued her dream of working in the film industry on high end productions for companies such as Netflix, ITV and Disney.
Samantha has drawn out some impeccable costume designs for Halter, some of which can be viewed on the photos above.
Alonso "Doc" Anza - Editor/VFX
Alonso “Doc” Anza is a London-based editor and VFX artist. Throughout several projects, his collaboration with Gianluca has always been satisfying. This solid teamwork has consistently led to surprising and innovative results.
Alonso has been working in the field for several years, working in different capacities. From traditional continuity editing to more disruptive interventions of footage, Alonso has continued to explore new avenues. Whether it’s a solid framework or subtle enhancements, he is confident in matching his coworkers’ talent and commitment to Halter.
Shaq Taylor - Acting as Keith: The Photographer
Shaq Taylor is a multi-disciplinary actor who graduated in musical theatre from ArtsEd. Since then he has amassed impressive credits in theatre, including portraying Javert in Les Miserables (Queens theatre) and Daddy in Sweet Charity(Nottingham Playhouse and Donmar Warehouse). His career has recently ascended to new heights and he is currently on a UK spanning tour of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, playing the Beast. Having further ambitions than theatre, he has been parlaying his talents into cinema to great success.
This is his second collaboration with both Gianluca and Swaen after Everybody Knows, in which his performance received particular acclaim. We are beyond honoured to be collaborating with him again.
Elizabeth McNally - Acting as Elena: The Fashion Designer
Elizabeth is a fantastic actress, with an incredible command of tone and a powerful onscreen presence. She is a formally trained Method Actress who studied at the Brian Timoney Actors' Studio in London, as well as in LA. Before acting professionally, she was a lawyer and worked as a solicitor in Scotland. She has also served as a Captain in the Army Legal Corps. Since her career change to full-time acting, she has landed notable roles in multiple BBC productions, the London Theatre stage productions and many more. We can’t wait for you to see her in this role.
Ellen Victoria - Acting as Diana: The Model
Ellen is a talented actress, singer, dancer and model. Her range as a performer will bring life to Diana’s fractured existence, and we’re so excited to have her on board. She studied drama at the University of Exeter and speaks 4 different languages - English, Swedish, Spanish and German. Although she is currently London-based, she works on an international scale. She’s going to make the role of Diana into something very special, and we are so excited for you to see it.
Lea Anderson - Acting as Sian: The Lead Dresser
Lea is an effortlessly dynamic actress, with amazing depth and sharp improvisations. She will bring great warmth and ruthlessness in equal measure to the role of Sian. After graduating from the Giles Forman Centre for Acting, Lea has had a varied career in short films and commercials. She is also a talented dancer and even recently served as Movement Director on the music video “The Fruits” by Paris Paloma. We can’t wait for you to experience her as this character.
Jessica Gilhooley - Acting as Amanda: Elena's Assistant
Jessica is a real talent, and is going to bring explosiveness to Amanda’s officious nature. She is Drama Centre trained and has recently played Sarah in the BAFTA-winning Dominic Savage's 'I am' TV series for Channel 4, and Rachel in Trylife's Drama series 'Shane's Story'.
She also served as assistant to the creative director at Alexander McQueen (Trino Verkade) for a year before going to acting school. She knows this world incredibly well and is going to bring real truth to this role. We couldn't be more excited.
Isabella Vance - Acting as Sarah: The Trainee
Isabella is a fantastic actress who is going to bring a raw vulnerability to this role. She is a recent musical theatre graduate from the American College Dublin, and a consummate performer. Since graduation she has appeared in “Into the Woods” and lent her singing talents to several live projects. This role is in very safe hands with her.