The Filmmakers’ Intentions
When I spoke with directors Redmon and Sabin on the phone last week, one of the things they kept reiterating about the film is that they weren’t trying to create a moralizing portrait of the modeling industry–nor did they set out to change the industry. “It was really important for us, for our process, not to make it like an exposé,” Sabin told us. “It’s been a bit disconcerting for us because journalists have painted the film that way [but] our intentions were to show the experience between a young girl [Nadya] and [casting director] Ashley [Arbaugh], an older woman, and the nuances, and the complexities that lie in that relationship.”
“It’s really about an audience feeling deeply conflicted, walking away from the film with questions,” she added. “It’s not to slam the fashion industry. It’s more about inviting a participatory space to have a conversation.”
Whether it was their intention or not, the film has certainly raised concerns about the industry’s working conditions, particularly the young age at which most models begin working. Here, the directors’ took a stance: “I think that [the modeling industry's practice of using young girls] is extremely problematic because there are no regulations in the industry,” Sabin told us. “These girls are usually from rural, poor backgrounds and they hope of making more money, yet so few of them actually do.”
Rachel Blais, a working 26-year-old model who Sabin told me acted as their “liaison in understanding the industry,” has a much bleaker outlook on modeling. “These [young] girls are getting abused, whether it’s financial, sexual or emotional,” she told me bluntly.
“You have these young girls being sent far away from home, and a lot of times–most of the time–they can’t even understand the language,” she said. “They live with other models, who are also all minors and it kind of normalizes these things that are not normal, because all the girls are going through the same thing.”
“All agents will tell the young girl that if they sign with the agency that they will be a supermodel and make a lot of money,” she added. “And the agents foster this competitive climate, so models are also reluctant to talk about their experiences with one another.”