After Wren’s Melissa Coker premiered a film starring Tavi Gevinson for her fall 2012 collection in New York last week, the collective reaction among attendees—and, later, those watching and re-watching the video at home—seemed to be: “Wow. Tavi looks so…grown up.”
Taking Elle.com through the making of the film, Sarah Sophie Flicker, who co-directed with Maximilla Lucaks, says that keeping things age-appropriate was in fact something she was concerned about from the very beginning. For starters, the title, “Beware of Young Girls,” was borrowed from the 1970 Dory Previn hit that the singer wrote while in despair over her husband, composer Andre Previn, leaving her for the much younger Mia Farrow. (Flicker thought some of the song’s lyrics to be too mature—“And she just took him from my life/Oh yes she did/ so young and vain/ she brought me pain”—and suggested that Gevinson sing only the chorus.) But also Flicker, who has two young children, found herself feeling overly protective of the 15-year-old Gevinson, only to realize that her subject was hardly a rookie.
When we reached Flicker at home, she was in the middle of bath time with her kids, Arrow Marie and Wilder Stauning, and packing for a ten-day vacation in France. Passing off duties to her husband, Flicker spoke to Elle.com about redefining the song’s meaning to fit her modern muse, shooting on an unusually cold day in LA, and having Lula Magazine’s Leith Clark style via Skype!
ELLE: You, Melissa, Tavi, Maximilla, Leith—what brought everyone together to work on this film?
SSF: Maximilla and I have been directing films together for about 12 years. Melissa is an old friend and I’ve met Tavi a few times—it actually looks like I’ll be writing for Rookie magazine, which is super exciting—so it was just one of these convergences of all these smart, interesting women. I was coming back from SSXW with The Citizens Band and my husband was working in LA so I just happened to be in town and it all worked out. The Sunday we shot in LA was the coldest, rainiest day I had ever experienced there and magically it really worked for the mood and tone of the film. Leith had a really clear vision about how she wanted to style the whole thing. It was really funny because she actually had a visa problem at the last minute and so she styled over Skype. I was nervous about it, but it really worked!
ELLE: How did you and Miximilla come up with the concept?
SSF: I had been obsessing over this Dory Previn song. She was someone who my parents listened to a lot when I was little. They actually had dinner with her right as the whole Mia Farrow and Andre Previn scandal broke, and my mom remembers her singing “Beware of Young Girls” at this dinner party. So anyway, it was a song I had always wanted to do. And I guess the idea really stuck because I feel like there is this emergence of really smart young women right now and sort of a reclaiming and a love again for feminism. I just felt like the title in and of itself worked. Not in the sense that the song actually implies, but more in the sense of beware of young girls because they’re smart and powerful and they’re coming to take over the world in this great way.
ELLE: The look and feel of the film is sort of creepy and romantic. What inspired that very specific tone of it?
SSF: Max and I love the Czech new wave. We’re total nerds about it. We used to have film nights we called “Czech Please” and had all of our girlfriends over. Vera Chytilova and Milos Forman are two of our favorite directors.
ELLE: What was it like directing Tavi?
SSF: She’s incredible. I’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Lena Dunham and I know that people are probably mushing them into a category right now, but there is something really similar about the two of them. I’m really trying to remember people from when I was a teen or my early 20s who were that intelligent and driven and I can’t think of any. I have a five year-old daughter and it just makes me feel really excited about the future of young women and female role models. As a mom, I walked in feeling really protective of her. But by the middle of the day I realized that she was fine and in fact probably knows more than I do.
ELLE: Yeah, it sort of felt like at some point, when no one was looking, Tavi had suddenly became a woman.
SSF: When we chose that song, one thing I was actually really nervous about was that there were lyrics that I thought were inappropriate and she didn’t end up singing those. Like I said, I think I went in much more overprotective than I needed to be. Her “Style Like U” video came out the same day we were shooting and I went home and watched it that night. One of my favorite things she said was something about how she woke up one morning and just wanted to be pretty and felt nervous or insecure about saying that. I think for a lot of women there is this fake conflict of ‘Am I allowed to be pretty but also smart? Am I allowed to be a feminist and also like clothes and beauty products?’ I think we’re finally at a place where that’s truly OK. And she’s right at that age where you start changing. It was pretty poignant to be filming that day and to feel part of capturing this moment she’s having.
ELLE: What did you think of Melissa’s collection for fall?
SSF: I always love everything she does. I’ve worked with her now on and off for three or four years on various little projects and because of that I’m lucky enough to have a lot of Wren in my life. I really wear it a lot. We’re leaving tonight for a ten-day trip and I feel like half my suitcase is filled with Melissa’s clothes. What I love about it is that there are always a lot of prints that are interchangeable. You can take two different patterns and mix and match. And all of her stuff is really easy to take from day to night, like the lace backless dress I wore to the party, which I love.
ELLE: What are you working on next?
SSF: The Citizens Band has a lot going on. We’re doing a lot of stuff leading up to the election. We have a big surprise happening at the end of the summer. Both my husband and I are pretty obsessed with politics so prepare to be inundated by the both of us getting super annoying and nerdy leading up to this election.