Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Erin Benach Creates Characters

Photo Courtesy Of Erin Benach

It's the morning of Thanksgiving.  Erin Benach is doing phone interviews at her home in Eagle Rock, a motion picture favoured neighbourhood of Northeast L.A., California. She likes living here because it's a small family friendly community where you can walk.

A, Q and A session with Benach usually lasts about half an hour, whereupon the journalist has beforehand been instructed by Benach's firm but friendly assistant to "please make sure you don’t go too far over 30 minutes." The film "Loving" where Benach served as costume designer has recently premiered and she has several interviews scheduled before the buzzing of the turkey dinner begins, on this festive occassion in her element, with her family. Among them her first born and husband whom she had missed dearly, in her spare time, when she was four months pregnant and 3,000 miles away shooting in Richmond, Virginia, and amidst contemplation on how to make Richard Loving's attire appeal to a 21st century audience.

Growing up, Benache wanted to become a teacher. She ended  up studying  graphic design and photo journalism at Newhouse School, Syracuse University, New York. She had also developed an intense passion for fashion but never felt she fit in with its crowd. After graduation Benach worked with Penguin where she designed covers. She also took on freelance assignments and began taking night classes at the Fashion Technology Institute. She spent her first two weeks holiday interning on a movie set.

"Capturing the script and what people's psychology are. What is real," says Benach in reference tor her extensive portofolio that is dominately influenced by a documentary style discpline. The past, present and realistic future. Like in, "In the Mood for Love", "Children of Men" and "2046".

It's this quest for realism that saw Ryan Gosling's character transform from a cool dude to something of a dweeb opposite Michelle Williams in the film "Blue Valentine", and in another role, the driver in the neo-noir "Drive", into a demon.

In 2015, Benach began production of the movie "Loving" after screenwriter and director Jeff Nichols had been tapped to write the script. Familiar with the Loving vs. Virginia civil rights case, Benach reached out to Nicholsas she wanted to be part of this important project. The task at hand was how to bridge the precedent with the immediate for the characters and atmosphere not to come across dated, but fresh: The resolution was found below Loving's belt.

The beauty of monochrome images is their timelessness, and clothes, especially, when shot in black and white tend to appear classic and contemporary regardless of the era in which they're shot. Switch to colour and suddenly the same collection can instantly provoke a "That is so last year". Now guys sag their jeans, 60 years ago they were hiking them up (they probably weren't hiking them up, just wearing them around their waists instead of on their butt cheeks). The solution was to tweak Richard's trousers in the crotch area. Yes, this is where the snipping happened.

To meticulously mimic Loving's wardrobe outlined in "Life" photographed by Grey Villet, Benach consulted a menswear designer on how to approach the craft without overruning the truth. Authenticity is what Erin Benach strives for in her artistic endvours. "I like to tell stories and don't need the distractive orchestra," she said. A few minutes later she has another call.

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