Claire Edmondson hasn't been a director for very long, but she's no stranger to controversy. Since transitioning from her former career as a successful stylist for musicians and models in Canada and the United Kingdom, she's become one of the hottest young music video directors with dark, chic NSFW clips for the likes of Diamond Rings and Austra, taken a stand against the arrest of Pussy Riot and found herself in the middle of an inter-band rift that may or may not have broken up Broken Social Scene.
Now, she's channelling her experience in the music and fashion world into a new black comedy called It Girl. The show, which will soon be developed into either a TV pilot or a web series, stars model/actor Misty Fox as 30-year-old Wren Marlowe, the host of a vapid pop culture show called Girl Crush. Disillusioned and "aging," Marlowe "grapples with becoming an adult in a scene that doesn't let her grow up." Peppered with one-liner cameos from local musicians, including members of Fucked Up, Holy Fuck, Lioness, Beliefs and co-starring the Darcys' Jason Couse, It Girl should appeal to fans of the Toronto music scene and probably find its way into a few headlines.
The exact shape the series will take is still unknown, but Edmondson offered NOW the first look at It Girl, which you can watch below. Then, read our Q&A with the director about the show's conception and her own transition from fashion to film and music.
Can you tell us about the concept of the show?
Well, it takes place in the music and fashion world. It's not like it's an industry insider look into what's going on in that world, but it is based in that world. So it's about a girl who's a bit of an "it girl," as you've probably guessed from the name, and she hosts a TV show called Girl Crush, which is about pop culture, but at the same time really isn't about anything. It's a satirical take on the whole girl blog culture of - I don't know if I should really go into this - but just worshipping girls that don't really do anything. Or worshipping people that are doing interesting things, but then asking them super trivial questions. It's like mutual masturbation.
So she's stuck with this pop culture show that's completely unfulfilling. And she's just turned 30 and wants to do something more meaningful with her life. The tagline of the show is "what happens when the It Girl is over it?"
Is that how you felt about working as a stylist, before reinventing yourself as a director?
Yes. It's interesting, now that I'm not styling I'm finding the love for it again. You know, styling can be an art. You can be creative within it and it can be really satisfying. But I found that being forced to work within someone else's vision meant my own ideas were getting diluted. I don't think styling itself is vapid. I have never worked so hard in my life as when I was a stylist. It is not a slight little job by any means. If you're a real stylist you're fucking killing yourself on a day-to-day basis. But it wasn't working for me.
So is It Girl autobiographical?
I don't see myself as an "it girl" if that's what you're asking. But there's a bit of me in everything I do. I definitely started off styling and realized I'm not creatively fulfilled by styling. I'm just facilitating somebody else's vision. And I had to deal with some bullshit situations and crazy divas. I just had to say "this isn't for me." And it was a bit of a bummer because I ended up in London and I was styling really big bands and doing really well. It was that realization: "oh, I've made it, and I hate it." You know, "oh bummer, I worked so hard to get this career. Now I have it and I'm going to destroy it."
But I think there's also a bit of the lead actress, Misty Fox, too. Misty is an ex model. She's modelled all over the world. So she understands that situation of being where you think you want to be and then saying "okay, now what?" It's kind of a story arc you can put into any setting, except the setting that I've chosen is one that I know so well.
You have members of Fucked Up, Broken Social Scene and Lioness doing bit parts. Was that your way of representing your work as a music video director?
In a way Toronto's got such a rich indie scene that there's a lot to work with. I'm here, I might as well make use of all the amazing resources that are here as well. And I thought it would be funny to get cameos from all these fantastic, talented musicians and then ask them really stupid questions.
Do you have a favourite so far?
Brendan Canning is hilarious. We ask him "you recently scored a film with Lindsay Lohan. What do you think it would take to score with Lindsay Lohan?" He gave us too many funny answers for us to pack it all in, and it was pretty much all improvised. Sandy Miranda from Fucked Up was an important one for me, too. She comes in and says "let me guess, you asked the guys all the music questions." Because I get that all the time, questions like "what's it like being a woman in film?" Like, "oh wow, what a novelty, a girl in the film industry." And now with the success of the show Girls, there's all this thinking in the industry, "oh wait, girls can do things too," as if "female" is some sort of new trend.
Jason Couse from the Darcys is a lead actor. How did you end up with him as a main character?
We had this character in mind. He's the best friend band guy, because every "it girl" has to have a best friend band guy, and we were sitting there forever saying "who is this guy?" We were looking at actors, but I felt like they were always acting like actors. We just wanted him to be a charming, chill dude, which is sort of what Jason is. We asked him and he said "I don't know if I can act." So we just told him to be himself, and he totally nailed it. He's a natural in front of the camera, and he and Misty have great chemistry.
The trailer is scored by Beliefs, a local band that's kind of blowing up. Are you planning to incorporate more music in the series?
Yes, absolutely. If It Girl goes ahead as a web series, one of the things we want to do is commission a new song from a band every episode. And so that will be the theme song for that show. The Canadian music is so amazing right now that we can actually do this without the well running dry.