words anastasia miari | images gsus lopez
Spaniard Gsus Lopez is a London-based film director who has received much acclaim for his fashion films. The likes of David Lynch and Sofia Coppola have taken on this relatively new genre—flexing their muscles at the opportunity to create narrative films with a fashion focus— but it’s young directors like Lopez who have been able to rise through the ranks thanks to the fresh perspective that the genre allows.
To give you an idea of how 28-year-old Lopez’s career has snowballed: He made his first film, Ephemeral Nature, while studying at London College of Fashion in 2011, and before graduating in 2014, his next film, I’m in (L), was screened just before Wes Anderson and directly after Mario Testino at the 2013 Berlin Fashion Film Festival. Ephemeral Nature earned him international recognition after winning the award for Best Film at Barcelona’s ASVOFF Film Festival in 2013. Overnight, he was heralded into the spotlight, with Vogue Italia and Wonderland magazine running features on his work.
His stuff is wacky: the gender-bending, sink-full-of-vibrators, bag-made-of-nipples, girl-turns- into-a-giant-melting-figure-of-chocolate kind of wacky. Much like the director himself, his characters are always stylish. Taking influence from Pedro Almodovar, Xavier Dolan, John Waters, and Wong Kar-Wai, Lopez’s shorts lay out a narrative spliced through with bizarre and often grotesque sequences that aim to indulge his audience in the mad processes of his subjects’ minds. The slow-motion shots of Dolan’s and Kar-Wai’s work can be found in Lopez’s films, combined with the humor that exists in the films of Almodovar and Waters. It makes for an evocative mix and one that has clearly earned him recognition.
After an inspiring trip to Berlin, where he was invited to take part in the Berlinale Talents initiative for this year’s 65th Berlin International Film Festival, he’s now rolling up his sleeves for the next challenge. “I am very proud to be part of the Berlinale family; it's left a big mark on me,” he told me as we discussed last month’s festival season at an East End boozer local to both of us. “It was very inspirational to meet people that are in similar and more advanced stages of their careers. I no longer feel so alone as a director because I saw that everyone struggles in the film industry. It doesn't matter if you’re doing your first feature or your third short film; you all have the same insecurities, struggles, and learning processes. It's fascinating.”
It’s obvious his most recent trip to Berlin has had an effect on him—“there's nothing ‘not fun’ about that city”—but he’s no stranger to the European film-festival circuit. “My first film to make it to a festival screening took me to Barcelona in 2012. Since then I’ve been to Berlin a couple of times, Liverpool, Madrid, Milan, Belgrade...” He ticks off all of them on his hand but insists it’s more important for his work to travel than it is for him to see new places. “The most important thing for me is that my work gets seen somewhere in the world and that it's appreciated there. My films have been screened on five continents. The furthest that my work has gone is the Museum of Modern Art in Sydney for a screening at the VIVID Festival.”
Lopez is the kind of director who is a dream to work with, in that he realizes that the process of creating a film is so much more than just his own vision. I know this because of having worked with him on two of his fashion films. He considers other opinions and always commends the teams of people that surround him. For him, being screened at a festival is about receiving feedback so that he can develop and grow. “Festivals are so special because you get direct feedback from audience reactions. It's nerve racking but a very essential part of the process. Afterwards there are usually drinks or after-parties so it's a great way to network and talk abut each others’ work, opening up the possibility to collaborate in the future.”
And the future does look exciting. He has an ear to the ground and even over a catch-up pint, we are already hatching plans for the next project we might work on together. I pose the question he’s been asked a lot recently—whether he’s going to abandon the short, fashion-film genre for the meatier feature film—and I’m pleased when he tells me he plans to stick with fashion. “I want to keep on challenging myself every time I do a project, so it's natural that my films get bigger and bigger, but I love doing fashion films.” His plan is to combine both the long-form film narrative with the stylish elements that have become idiomatic in his work. “I love playing around with fashion and styling my characters. For me, the fashion is a character in the story.”
where do you live – East London
favorite neighborhood dinner – Café 338 on Bethnal Green Road—we frequented that cutesy greasy spoon a lot when filming my latest short, OUT. Also Haringey Café on Columbia Road and The Albion in Shoreditch
luggage - Cabin-sized Samsonite and a black backpack
gadgets - My iPad Air and my iPhone
favorite accessory – A black belt
favorite charity - McMillan (Cancer Support)
favorite hotel – Hotel Casa Fuster in Barcelona
favorite apps – Citymapper forever!
favorite airport – Madrid Barajas
favorite airline - I still have to find it...
home is…Where the heart is
where would you like to live? I would like to try living in Berlin, San Francisco, or Sydney
where & when were you happiest? Watching a sunset in my hometown (Toro, Spain) with my grandmother, Martina
what do you consider your greatest achievement? To have made my latest short film, OUT, with all the personal and financial difficulties that I faced during the process
what is your current state of mind? Keep on going...dreams come true!
how many trips do you take a year? Five to ten
how many of those are vacations? One to two
without traveling, you relax by? Watching films and eating popcorn in my living room
won’t board the plane without - A bottle of water and my inflatable pillow
indispensable in your carry-on - A good book, a magazine, a bottle of water, and mints
take off routine- Simply happy that I made it in one piece
first thing you do after landing – Pick up my luggage and freshen up
travel is…an essential part of life. In every trip you develop. You’re never the same person you were before any trip