A post-postmodern fable, inspired by China's beloved ancient romance /horror story, starring the Honorable Daphne Guinness as a snake demoness who has transformed herself into an enchanting maiden, in order to experience love. A meditation on obsession, gender, metamorphosis and time, through multi-cultural poetry fragments and chthonic catharsis. Including "The Hidden Chamber" by Neil Gaiman (Academy Award nominated Coraline). Directorial debut by Indrani, produced by photographers Markus Klinko & Indrani (2 gold Cannes Lions for TBWA/Digital Death), GK Reid, and Daphne Guinness (Academy Award nominated Cashback).
KEY CAST & CREW
Starring: The Honourable Daphne Guinness
Directed by: Indrani
Produced by: Markus Klinko & Indrani, GK Reid and Daphne Guinness (Academy Award nominated Cashback)
Music composition and arrangement by: Wen-Kai Ying
Music Performance by: The Viva Girls (Grammy award winning Domo Group).
This film's pre-modern powerful heroine, so relevant today, is a reformed demoness, who’s learned to transform herself and even the elements, yet she is unable to control her emotions and animal passions consume her. This Chinese tale of metamorphosis has itself transformed dramatically through the centuries, reflecting society’s changing perspectives. Likewise, the filmmaking process has been one of transformation, an experimental labor of love, the result of a collaborative creative process with many artists, including Daphne, GK, and Markus who suggested poetry, costumes and ideas that helped bring out layers of the protagonists' character. In the current most common version of the story, she allows herself to be subjugated by the patriarchy and therefore is an idealized heroine, but I chose to redeem her, by letting her true nature win, in a cathartic resolution to the quest for endless love. Using multi-cultural post-postmodern perspectives through literary fragments, to bring out the Apolonian/Dionysian oppositions, for a meditation on obsession, identity, gender power relations, and metamorphosis through time. Bestselling author Neil Gaiman (Academy Award-nominated Coraline) suggested his poem, the Hidden Chamber, which became the film’s literary core, and brought out many layers in Lady White's character, adding a gender-bending killer edge. The actual legend traverses several centuries and lifetimes, which we fit into 8 minutes, while striving to preserve the Eastern cyclical concept of time and fate.
The film is a tribute to the spirit of the late Alexander McQueen, some of whose unique art pieces are seen for the first time in this film, along with costumes created by GK Reid for the film.
An icon in the worlds of fashion and art, Daphne was raised between Ireland, England, Paris and an artist’s colony with Salvador Dali and the Surrealists in Spain. Growing up, Guinness studied life drawing, drama and music and has since worked with photographers such as David La Chapelle, Steven Klein and Nick Knight. She was a companion of Andy Warhol before being celebrated as muse to Alexander McQueen, Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld. Guinness acted in and produced an Oscar nominated short film called 'Cashback', directed her own short film 'Phenomenology of Body'. She has also starred in a film, 'The Murder of Jean Seberg', directed by photographer and filmmaker Joe Lally. Guinness has designed a range of clothing with Dover Street Market and released an eponymous fragrance with Comme des Garçons. MAC launched a new collection dedicated to her.
Neil Gaiman was born in Hampshire, UK, and now lives in the United States near Minneapolis. As a child he discovered his love of books, reading, and stories, devouring the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Branch Cabell, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Moorcock, Ursula K. LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, and G.K. Chesterton. Gaiman began his writing career in England as a journalist. His first book was a Duran Duran biography that took him three months to write, and his second was a biography of Douglas Adams, ‘Don’t Panic: The Official Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Companion.’ The groundbreaking series ‘Sandman’ followed, collecting a large number of US awards in its 75 issue run, including nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and three Harvey Awards. ‘Sandman’ became the first comic ever to receive a literary award, the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story.
Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri is internationally known for her iconic imagery "At the forefront of contemporary photography" (NOWNESS 2010). Born in Calcutta, India, Indrani traveled the world as a fashion model learning from photographers and directors with whom she worked. She co-founded and co-directs a charitable foundation in her home in India SEEschool.org. Indrani graduated from Princeton University with a magna cum laude degree in cultural anthropology, while she developed her photography career with partner Markus Klinko. Their imagery was discovered by David Bowie and Isabella Blow, clients include Interview, Vanity Fair, Lancome, L'Oreal, Barneys, Nike and Pepsi; Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Eva Mendes, Lady Gaga, Beyonce Knowles, Katie Holmes, Jennifer Lopez, Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, Jay-Z, Usher, Kanye West, and Ryan Seacrest. She has directed films and commercials including "Crisis in Central African Republic: Malaria" starring Mandy Moore, "Digital Death"starring Katie Holmes, Elijah Wood and Usher, a music video for Mary J. Blige, and the controversial "The Girl Epidemic."
French- Hungarian Markus Klinko was born in Switzerland, the son of a French Horn player, spent his teens studying harp in Paris at the National Conservatory. Markus had an illustrious career as one of the world’s preeminent classical harp soloists. He was the first harpist with a major recording label contract, and released award-winning albums for EMI Classic, and played concerts around the globe. In 1994, after receiving the “Grand Prix du Disque” (European equivalent to a Grammy) for his last recording with the Paris Opera Bastille Orchestra, Markus decided to follow his passion to begin a career in photography. Two weeks later he met Indrani and they began their extraordinary relationship and creative collaboration.
Fashion stylist and designer GK Reid has established a high-profile clientele and is recognized for his unique perspective that translates into ground-breaking work. A cultural nomad, Reid grew up between an artists' community in New Mexico and a boarding school in Mussoorie, India. This diverse upbringing contributed to his innate understanding of sartorial mores that enhance and empower his clients. His efforts have entered into the fashion lexicon. Reid has styled other iconic celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Nelly Furtado, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Kanye West, Britney Spears, Nas and Katie Holmes. Reid was the costume designer and production designer for this film, and fashions he created for it were presented at the Fashion Institute Museum's Daphne Guinness Exhibition.
Pergrin is a native of Berlin, Germany, where he grew up immersed in the French culture while attending the Lycée Français. College studies in Paris, France, at the École Supérieure de Réalisation Audiovisuelle, gave him a strong foundation in international film. He then studied cinematography at AFI, and interned with Academy Award winners Vittorio Storaro, Vilmos Zsigmond, and László Kovács. As one of the youngest MFA graduates ever, Pergrin has worked on hundreds of commercials and music videos with legendary directors like Joe Pytka and Tony Kaye, amongst many others.
Known for editing film and commercials for clients such as Merrell, Cibavision (DDB), Abbot Labs (Saatchi Wellness), Olay (Saatchi/NY) and Clairol (FCB/NY), Terence Ziegler’s innate versatility lends itself to visual story telling and design oriented work. He won a Telly Award for a City Harvest PSA via FCB/NY, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Timothy White. He also won Best Short Film at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival. Ziegler recently edited “Jesus Was a Commie,” a short film he co-directed with Matthew Modine. He also cut award-winning “Apsara,” a short from director Colin McGreal screened at festivals the world over.
Having been classically trained at the best conservatories in Beijing, China, the Viva Girls present an East meets West twist on a unique mix between classical and modern music defies genres. Creating traditional Chinese music that appeals to the global audience. The classically-trained female musicians who comprise the Viva Girls perform on traditional Chinese instruments and blur the lines between western influenced music with the traditional sounds of their roots in China. The result is a modern-traditional musical hybrid. Their music is masterfully produced and mixed by Wen-Kai Ying.
A special thank you to everyone who donated their time and efforts to make this film a success (Poetica, formally Manic; Jump; Company 3; Color)
Guinness Shines in Short Film Based on Ancient Chinese Legend by Cator Sparks for The Huffington Post
When I first covered the delightful and energetic photographic duo Markus and Indrani, they were just wrapping up the unending editing of their first short film, The Legend of Lady White Snake. During New York Fashion Week they were finally able to screen their magical little film. It was explained to me as a contemporary take of an ancient Chinese legend where a beautiful woman who is actually a thousand year old white snake falls in love with a human but their relationship is forbidden by nature's law.
I have a confession to tell the film-makers, I have watched the password protected film nearly every night since! Coming from a background of shooting this era's biggest talent from Lady Gaga to Mary J. Blige they understand the need for high drama, engaging music and mysterious sex appeal. The duo also understands the power of the short. Like the musicians they shoot, this film takes on the clip of a music video albeit with a much more glamorous star than any Beyonce, Brittany or Madge. Friend and muse to Markus and Indrani, Daphne Guinness shines in this epic tale of love, life and loss. People finally get to hear the power her voice can intone, matching her super human style and look.
After the screening I spoke to Indrani about how all of this came about: Tell us how this film came to be.
My goal was to bring to life the ancient Chinese legend of Lady White Snake, in a post-postmodern style, using multi-cultural perspectives and poetry fragments, and set in New York City, to bring out underlying dichotomies in a clash of oppositions, and push the tale's theme of metamorphosis to its conclusions in a chthonic catharsis to create a new whole.
What lured you to this specific legend?
I was intrigued by the legend precisely because it seemed inscrutable to me at first glance, with many contradictions and loose ends. Researching further, I found water/serpent women surface in ancient tales of almost every culture, as goddesses, monsters, or a hybrid of both. I was fascinated by the dramatic transformations of the story itself through the ages, reflecting the many shifts of society's attitudes towards women and their powers. For me the all-powerful heroine seems so modern, she learns to transform herself and even the very elements at her whim, yet she's unable to control her own emotions, or to be normal, which she so craves. Love is the source of her strength and her weakness, causing her imprisonment by the patriarchy, as she sacrifices herself to save the changeable man who betrays her repeatedly.
How close does your film follow the legend?
The original Chinese story takes place over hundreds of years, traversing lifetimes, so it was a challenge to encapsulate its essence in 8 minutes, yet preserve the endless cyclical sense of time and fate, and at the same time provide the cathartic resolution withheld in the original, a solution to the question of endless love.
How was it working with Guinness?
This film was a labor of love for all of us. We were very fortunate to work with Daphne, whose acting is extraordinary. Though known for her visual art, in this her first speaking role she imbues the complex character of Lady White Snake with a forceful ancient wisdom, a naive vulnerability, otherworldly charm and deadly intensity. Raised amongst aristocrats and surrealists like Salvador Dali, trained as an opera singer, she exudes an unforgettable presence on-screen, and her passion for poetry imbues every word with meaning.
Where did the text come from in the film?
Many of the literary references were suggested by Daphne, such as Oppenheimer's quote from the Bhagavad Gita, and Coleridge's Kublai Khan, which happen to be favorites of mine as well, over which we came together on the project. Working the story around these texts was a terrific challenge, yet it helped bring out many of the layers of complexity in the original Chinese legend. Stylist and designer GK Reid (who created masterpieces for this film) showed bestselling author Neil Gaiman an early cut and he suggested his poem, the Hidden Chamber, which became the literary core of the film, and brought out many more layers in Lady White's character, adding a gender-bending suave serial killer edge.
For a teaser of the film click here and get lured into the urban chambers of one damn dazzling dame, err serpent.
Images in this post are an exclusive preview from Hong Kong Tatler. Photos by Markus Klinko & Indrani, styling by GK Reid, courtesy of Hong Kong Tatler. Fashion: coat and blue dress by Chanel Haute Couture, gold dress by Genghis Khan.
Film produced by Markus Klinko & Indrani, Daphne Guinness, and GK Reid.
The Skin She Lives In
by Hong Kong Tatler
Guinness is now moving on with her life at
full speed. She's just released a capsule line of
make-up with mac, and stars in a short film that
premiered during New York Fashion Week and
will be presented at the Cannes Film Festival in
May. Based on an ancient Chinese tale, The Legend
of Lady White Snake was written by author Neil
Gaiman, and directed by acclaimed photographer
and director Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri (who shot
our cover story in tandem with Markus Klinko).
A highly conceptualised interpretation of
the Chinese legend, a tale of a thousand-yearold
snake that takes on the form of a beautiful
woman, the film is an exploration of obsession
and metamorphosis. The challenging role
required Guinness to get cozy with a 20-foot long
albino python and an owl (luckily not at the same
time), and to pose couture-clad in the middle of a
pond in Central Park. Produced as a tribute to the
spirit of Alexander McQueen, The Legend of Lady
White Snake showcases some stunning looks from
the late designer as well as other labels like Philip
Treacy and Gareth Pugh.
For Guinness, costume is one of the most
important aspects of a film's narrative. She once
met Elizabeth Taylor on the set of a fashion
shoot, and asked what the diva thought about the
role of costume in film. "I had some of my lines
sewn into the back of my costumes," answered
Taylor immediately. "It was so interesting to hear
it from the horse's mouth," recalls Guinness. "I
knew that the clothes had equal say."
Daphne Guiness' Asian influences
by Hillary Latos for Asiance Magazine
The exhibition features the work of Aero director Indrani including previews of her new film starring Daphne, titled, The Legend of Lady White Snake: A Tribute to the Spirit of Alexander McQueen, written and directed by Indrani.
Based on China's most beloved ancient legend, the film is a meditation on obsessive love and metamorphosis. Shooting the film for 7 days in New York, they stopped traffic in Central Park as Daphne glided across a lake in a costume designed by GK Reid, stylist and production designer extraordinaire. GK also styled her in Gareth Pugh, Philip Tracy, and pieces designed by the Late Alexander McQueen just for Daphne, that have never before been seen. The film and images also feature a 20ft long python, and an owl.
The Exhibit also featured photographs by Markus Klinko and Indrani on the set of the film. One of these became the Barney's ad for Daphne's extraordinary performance art show in the windows of Barney's New York as she prepared for the Met Ball.
I had a chance to speak with Daphne at a recent fashion event that I attended. We spoke about Asian influences and her recent film with South Asian photographer, Indrani!
Asiance: Tell us about your new film with Indrani!
Guiness: It's always a work in progress. I always do unscripted work. We all trust each other. I've known her for a year. I really loved working with her. My problem has been with schedules.
Daphne Guinness and 'The Legend of Lady White Snake'
by Rosemary Feitelberg for WWD
How Daphne Guinness wound up appearing in "The Legend of Lady White Snake"...
Guinness got to know Reid and the photographers, better known as Markus and Indrani, through another lensman, David LaChapelle. Markus and Indrani later shot the heiress and LaChapelle in coffins for the "Keep a Child Alive" campaign, which won two Gold Lions at Cannes for TBWAChiatDay.
Reid and Guinness, meanwhile, became fast friends and cooked up another shoot with Markus and Indrani, during which Indrani started filming "The Legend of Lady White Snake," a tribute to Alexander McQueen. What started as one shoot wound up being 12, and life-size prints will be sold Sunday to benefit Charity:Water and Indrani's women's empowerment school in India.
Reid added another dimension to the tale, by styling "Coraline" creator Neil Gaiman for the Oscars. The designer sent the director an early copy of "The Legend of Lady White Snake," and, instead of feedback, Gaiman offered the use of his poem "The Hidden Chamber," which is now a core to the story line. But he is not the only one with a writing credit. Indrani also worked in verse from Edgar Allen Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rabindranath Tagore and Samuel Taylor Coleridge...
The short will be entered in various film festivals, and plans are under way to stage the exhibition in Hong Kong, Saint Petersburg, Russia, and Berlin.
Daphne Guinness Tribute To Alexander McQueen: Lady White Snake
by Kpriss for Style Frizz
Lady White Snake is a new fashion film directed by Indrani, starring Daphne Guinness who gets to wear some very interesting pieces (from Alexander McQueen, Genghis Khan, Gareth Pugh, Philip Treacy, Fred Leighton, Bess) and behaves like the walking rare art form that she is.
These are just speculations as the official truth will surface this very Sunday, February 12 2012 at the screening of The Legend of Lady White Snake when 12 life size prints with images from the Markus Klinko & Indrani special collaboration will be sold to benefit Charity: Water and Indrani's Indian school for women empowerment. They had me at "McQueen tribute" so the images only confirm the visual bliss that is this short fashion film!
Premiere: The Legend of Lady White Snake
by Cator Sparks for Lookbook
The film is an 8-minute postmodern experimental narrative film inspired by China's beloved classical romance and explores themes of obsession, metamorphosis, identity, and time.
The story takes place within the mind of its heroine, an ancient snake demoness (Guinness) transformed by good deeds into a beautiful maiden, in order to experience human love. The music by Chinese instrumental supergroup the Viva Girls was pitch perfect, eerie yet romantic.
The Legend of Lady White Snake, Starring Daphne Guinness
by Vivian Kelly for The Fashion Examiner
The film itself was genius - a cross between a poetry reading and a couture fashion show. It may sound odd, but it was spectacular. On our way out, Laura stopped to chat with a young female editor to get her take. Like us, she was blown away and was going to Google the film and read Neil Gaimanâ€™s poem. The point of the film though, was the EXPERIENCE and it got a 10/10 on that score. After this visual feast, we got an auditory one - a performance by the very talented Viva Girls, who were perched like a row of angels in blue ball gowns to the right of the massive screen.
Title: The Legend of Lady White Snake
Originaation: Digital Cameras Arri Alexa + Red One