Sean Connors, Blow of Mercy: Assassination Complex

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Direction: Wayland Bell

Creative Direction: Sean Connors and Lindsay James Soto

Original Score: Vette

Sound Design: Jauntin

Styling: Sean Terris

Cast: Valentino Watson, Krozs, Sierra Paletta, Thomas Santos and Taylor Simone 

Can you describe the role of the model in your work?
 
Sean Connors: We wanted the models to function as a representation of the collective terror of war and surveillance. To achieve this we never wanted them to feel at ease and wanted them to always be in isolated contention with the camera.
 
Tell me about the film's concept, where did the idea stem from?
 
SC: The concept stemmed from a number of sources. Namely, the work of Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras and a United States Army handbook. Scahill is an investigative journalist who released an incredible documentary entitled Dirty Wars which exposed the extensive damage caused to the people of the Middle East by the United States government's drone warfare. Poitras held an exhibition entitled Astro Noise at the Whitney Museum which delved into documents leaked by Edward Snowden. It was a fully immersive experience and it helped to further expose the extent of the US government's surveillance and drone programs. Lastly, throughout the film, there are title cards interspersed which break up each act. These words come from a United States Army handbook that my father, who was in the 82nd Airborne, gave me. The title of the handbook is Survival, Evasion, and Escape, an idea which we wanted to apply throughout the film. 
 
How do you approach the inclusion of fashion in a shoot?
 
SC: For this shoot particularly, we wanted to confront and question the functionality of camouflage and military garments. The camouflages used in the film were originally created for military campaigns in the Middle East, with the Desert Night camouflage specifically developed to avoid detection from night vision goggles. Although our models are 'dressed for war' they are still terrorized and paranoid.
 
Can you tell me about the making of the film?

 

SC: The film was made in collaboration with director Wayland Bell and the co-creative director of Blow of Mercy, Lindsay James Soto, at the abandoned Fort Tilden in Queens, New York. We spent a full day running and chasing models throughout the dilapidated bunkers and buildings and utilized a drone for our closing shot. Throughout the shoot, perhaps fittingly, we had to actively avoid various law enforcement officers around the fort and beach. On set, we had a great stylist, Sean Terris, who, along with our awesome models kept going despite these threats and complications. The score was composed and coded by Vette who helped to provide the perfect atmosphere with her abstract sound. Our sound designer, Jauntin helped to add some details to her sonics when we executed the final cut of the film.