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The Art of the Close Shave Demonstrated by Fashion Filmmaker Bart Hess

Article LAB Gallerie Photos courtesy of Bart Hess / Film Nowness x Bart Hess, Special Thanks to Frank Verkade

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The seductive curves of a toned figure are slowly unveiled by the ultimate seamless shave in designer, animator and photographer Bart Hess’s sleek new film was inspired by the aerodynamic forms of swimmers battling it out in the Olympic pool, Hess was aided by a pair of human shavers manipulating a two-meter long blade in turning a mechanical act of grooming into a strangely hypnotic performance.

LAB: What was your inspiration behind the shoot?

BH: “What is important to me in my work is a sense of estranging,” admits Hess, who added the white bar in post-production to compound the uncanny feel of the film. “I want to show the spectator an image that may not be recognizable right away.”

“I was thinking about swimmers who have to shave their entire bodies to be as aerodynamic as possible for the game. This thought about aerodynamics inspired me to look at the body in a different way and create the shapes that are shown in the movie. I wanted to create very masculine body shapes against a more feminine forms”.

LAB: Any challenges whilst filming?

BH: “One of the problems I faced during filming was controling the different shades of white in the shots. I wanted the background and foam to blend in to one another and look as flat as possible without losing the three dimensional feel of the model’s body. “

“Another difficulty was controlling the big shaving-blade. The blade was controlled by 2 assistents who slowly moved it downwards while getting instructions from the people behind the camera. Only the people behind the camera could see if the blade was in one straight line within the shot.”

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LAB: What determines your choice of medium?

BH: “Normally within my work I am looking for the limits of a material. In previous projects I experimented with slime, paper, glass and needles. But in this film I did not modify the foam but I looked for the limits of the shaving ritual by scaling it up”. BH

STATS FROM ON SET

Location Studio Bart Hess, Canalstreet, Eindhoven, Netherlands. Shoot duration Ten hours. Cast One male model, one director, one cameraman, and two shavers. Amount of shaving cream used Twenty-eight cans. Cuts from shaving Five. Body surface covered in foam 2.1m². Amount of hairs shaved during the shoot Approximately 24,000. Closeness of shave 0.0001cm. Wardrobe Supermarket b-brand shaving-foam; one tiny pair of Speedos to avoid cuts to the more sensitive body parts. Sound effects Manipulated real-life shaving sounds. Shaving appliance Two-meter-long metal blade. Olympic record to beat 21.3 seconds (men’s 50 meters freestyle). Potential health hazards Choking on the foam (luckily the model was a swimmer so he could hold his breath). 
Director’s motivational speech “You are brilliant! Let’s do that three more times!”

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