The September Issue

The September Issue is a documentary about the production of the September issue of Vogue, which is the key issue for each year. It focuses on the magazine’s editor (Anna Wintour) and creative director (Grace Coddington). Wintour was apparently the inspiration for the main character in The Devil Wears Prada.

The film was surprisingly engaging, especially considering I don’t care at all about fashion. I’ll give it a strong  out of .

I saw it on 1/17/2010 at the Camera Cinema Club. Director/producer R.J Cutler was on the phone to answer questions (there may be spoilers below):

  • The two main characters appear to be at odds, but despite their being polar opposites, the film is kind of a love story
  • The difference between this and his films about political people, who are verbal: these people are instead visual, so their communication is very different
  • Communication is like a mist, done through gestures and nuances, so the filmmakers needed to catch the small moments
  • Fashion is a $300 billion industry
  • How did he gain access? He just asked, and Anna agreed the first time the director met her–she had seen his earlier work, and she was ready to tell her story–she is closer to the end of her career than the start–but still the filmmakers really had to earn their trust over time
  • He started this a year before The Devil Wears Prada, which was written by a former assistant of Anna’s (of whom there are many)–Anna has way more power than the character in Prada, and can reduce people to tears just by glancing away
  • They did 7.5 months of filming–Grace didn’t let them film her for 3 months
  • The director’s objective is always to tell a story about great people
  • Over time the director and DP become characters in the film, as part of the relationship between Anna and Grace
  • This is really who Anna is, and is way nicer than her image, which is not to say that’s she’s especially nice
  • Did he have to run stuff by Vogue? He had final cut and complete editorial control (her father was a journalist). He did show her the film before it was locked, and she made suggestions, but he made no changes. She threw the film a big party and went on Letterman.
  • Vogue and Conde Nast had no financial connection to the film in either direction
  • He thinks of his films the same way as narrative films, with three act structure, etc., which led him to use the September issue as the structure, and Anna suggested it, but the director considers it a MacGuffin
  • The cameraman’s stomach was in fact not retouched, but he has been going to the gym
  • Anna has a son who was at school in England, and a mother, neither of whom appears, mostly because they didn’t affect her in the work
  • Did Anna and Grace collaborate face to face? Not really any more than what you see in the film–complicatedly passive aggressive
  • What about other issues (August, etc.) going on at the same time? Those only get worked on for about a month.
  • The film was released on DVD on February 23rd, with additional extras if you buy it at Barnes and Noble

One Response to “The September Issue

  1. sreinheimer Says:

    Good to see you blogging again. I probably liked Irene in Time more than you did, but Duplicity less than you. With Duplicity, perhaps seeing it on the big screen would have made a difference, as I saw it on DVD. Looks like I didn’t blog either of them.

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