From Catwalks to Cameras...
With investors pulling out when the credit crunch tipped into a stock market freefall, Ford needed a substantial injection of capital right away. What he needed was a fabulously wealthy patron of the arts prepared to put his money where he mouth was. What he needed was...
See where we’re going with this? That’s right, the guy who bailed out the project was Ford himself, the film’s $7 million budget little more than pocket change to such a rich guy.
Still, Ford didn't go down the Avatar route, keeping things lean and mean on a brisk 21-day shoot, maintaining an intimate scale in order to play to his strengths. “I loved every minute, every phase – I’m best when I’m in complete control,” he admitted to W magazine.
Julianne Moore observed to BBC News that, "Tom was very particular about how things looked. Sometimes I've walked on set and the whole production looks wrong, but you felt that he had considered every last little detail about our characters' lives.”
This is, undoubtedly, a film that has the hallmarks of the catwalk. Chris Laverty, editor of costume design blog Clothes on Film, notes “The film is definitely ‘high fashion.’ Slim, sharp mohair suits for men – Italian influence was sweeping men’s fashion in the early sixties. Womenswear was clean, simple and unembellished, almost shapeless.”
Ford, though, isn't convinced anything was out of the ordinary. “Everyone keeps saying to me, 'Everyone is so beautiful. Everything is so beautiful.' I didn't even notice that! That's just the way I see. That's the way I think."
To an extent, he's right: the fashion is but a facade for George’s churning emotions. “Lots of people say: 'Oh a Tom Ford film—that must look great," Colin Firth comments. "But the truth is that the suits I was wearing are like body armour for my character....”
Ford exploited that gap between surface and soul by having different directorial approaches: fastidious on details, but free on characterisation. “The script was quite sparse and it left a lot of space,” said Firth to The Daily Telegraph. “Tom didn’t tell me how to do anything and didn’t bombard us with verbal instructions.
"He gave us a lot of freedom, and I felt I was being given a chance to do things I wasn’t normally given a chance to do. He creates an atmosphere in which people are ready to do their best, and I’m sure he learned that in his years in the fashion business.”
Moore agrees. “At one point I started humming and moving my shoulders. It wasn’t in the script, but it felt right. I would not have been able to do that if Tom was standing over me, telling me what to do.”
As for Ford, was the effort worth it? Absolutely, he told Vogue. "It’s amazing to be in a room full of actors and they move and dress and change according to what I have written for them to do that morning, sitting in my underwear in bed. It puts you in an incredible position of control to be directing the life, death, even the clothing of all these people. And it will last forever.”
The film was in the can, but without a distribution deal. How to sell the film to the industry’s movers and shakers? The only way Tom Ford knew how...
Next: ...And Back To Catwalks