Photographer and director Kinga Burza is unique, a trademark personality trait that is reflected seamlessly in her visual work. Moving images. She directs them, and does so with such finesse and delicate sensibility she is influencing entire industries in the process. Her relentless fear of missing out on what life has to offer has prompted her to create those images that we simply can’t let go of. With no formal training it’s a true testament to her natural talent that she has been able to work with some incredible names, Ellie Goulding, Patrick Wolf, Calvin Harris and Marina and the Diamonds to mention but a few. Carving her name by way of directing music videos, Burza has since dipped her toe into the realm of fashion films, those enigmatic shorts that ignite deep passions for certain labels. Burza recently shot the campaign film for Australian high fashion label, ELLERY Resort 2014 collection, in a beauiful Japanese garden at the KENZO house, to stunning results. But it’s her vibrancy, and her love of what she does that has really won us over. She urges young creatives to get as much practice as possible, while giving in to her boundless creativity and in doing so knocks down the boundaries that the industry may put up. “Life’s a pitch”, she says, but we can only wish that she were the one who gently guided our lives in the right direction. We bet she hears that a lot. Story of her life.
Hall of Furs: Firstly, can you tell me a little about yourself? How would you define what it is that you do?
Kinga Burza: I’m a director of moving images. I started in music videos but I make fashion films, commercials and short films too.
Do you remember the moment when you knew film was what you wanted to pursue? What drew you to film?
It was an instinct. Something intuitive definitely because at the time, I didn’t have the confidence to think someone like me, would have the ability or the talent. I didn’t go to film school, nor did I know anyone that did. I’ve always watched a lot of films and I just when I started toying with the idea, I had a boyfriend who’s brother was a director and maybe he kind of inspired me, without me realising it at the time.
What is your definition of beauty? How do you aim to create it? And where do you find it?
That’s a hard question, because my personal definition of beauty might not always end up in my work as sometimes labels come in and retouch the final image without my control. Making a video for an artist for example is the ultimate marketing campaign so the artist needs to agree they look their best too. Sometimes retouching is great to remove a spot that would otherwise be distracting but often with good lighting and make up, retouching is unnecessary. Yet it’s a given today, so if you don’t do it, you seem to be drawing attention to yourself in a bad way apparently.
I find beauty in the most random of places…the funny flowers I found growing on my cactus this morning, the sunlight and how it lights my apartment on a pretty day, the way two objects I just placed on the table look good together because of their colors. Recreating these things [is] harder because sometimes the most beautiful things reveal themselves only by chance.
You’ve worked with an impressive list of clients from Peaches and Ellie Goulding to ELLERY. Do you have any personal favourite films you’ve directed from your archives?
I’ll always have a soft spot for the really low budget projects I produced myself because of the blood, sweat and tears that went into them. The Teenagers, Homecoming, is one example.
Who are some of your artistic influences and icons?
There are so many and they change all the time. I don’t know where I’d be without the Internet. It’s a bottomless pit of inspiration that never ceases to amaze me.
Where do you find inspiration outside of the individual you’re working with?
It is totally random – it might be a personal experience, a scene from a film, a book, a magazine, a photographer’s image, an artwork, a fashion show, a lyric, or a combination of some of these elements.
Can you walk me through the steps of creating a short film? What’s does the process look like from initial idea to finished product?
It’s really hard. I submitted a script based on a scene from a book and it was chosen as part of a scheme that was being funded by the BBC. My production company supported me and helped me produce it but it was still really testing. We had a lot of hurdles to get pass which eventually affected the end result. It was a great learning experience but doing it again, I would do things differently.
How does creating a fashion film differ to that of a music video?
Fashion films are really exciting because there are no rules, no boundaries because the industry is thriving and really all about branding and marketing in a fresh, forward thinking and creative way. The music industry on the other hand is struggling so hard, it has become too afraid to take any risks and bar a few exceptions, the majority of popular videos follow a safe formula of what’s worked in past. This along with heavily decreasing budgets is making videos more and more contrived. The big difference between now and then, is that videos in the past had a shelf life of 3 – 4 weeks solely on the box, [but] videos today seem to exist forever on the Internet and while audiences can determine a video’s success, as long as watchers want interesting and original content, then the future of commissioned videos will respond to positive feedback.
Do you have any tried and true words of advice for young individuals hoping to make a career out of film directing? Have you experienced any trials and tribulations in this industry?
First things first – it’s not easy. You need to really be passionate about filmmaking because it’s competitive, testing and sometimes really exhausting and stressful, but if you’re like me and you can’t imagine doing anything else, then what are you waiting for? Pick up your camera, IPhone, anything… and start practicing. Today, you can film so easily and accessibly so avoid wasting your time knocking on doors, or asking for internships, make something that will get noticed and before you know it, you’ll be pitching against me. Good luck!
Do you aim to tell a story through your films? Do you get creative control?
Depends on which project. Every experience is different but normally there’s an unspoken rule that the smaller the budget the more control a director usually has (but otherwise the less production freedom) and vice versa. So, I guess that’s why some of my lowest budget projects are my favorite as they were in a way the closest outcome to what was in my head.
Working in fashion, do you pay close attention to seasonal trends? How would you describe your personal style?
Yes and no. Of course I’m influenced by what’s hanging on the latest Isabel Marant hanger, or what I might see in a magazine, but at the same time, I’m not a die hard fashion follower – I don’t need to have the latest Celine Tartan top resembling a garbage bag as it’s so hot right now. I’ve gotten to an age now where I think I have [gotten] to know what suits me and I kind of stick to it. Since turning thirty, I’m also more about comfort over creativity, I live in sneakers whenever possible. I also rotate my wardrobe a lot so it always feels fresh, but it might mean I’m wearing a coat I bought seven years ago and this I become very proud of because recycling is cool, you know?
Is travel a major component of what you do? Where is one place you would love to visit?
Totally and to be 100% honest, I never thought I’d say this because I’ve always been the most FOMO person I’ve known but I’m actually starting to get tired of all the jet-setting. Of course, in my line of work there is no option, you go where the work is so it’s really ridiculous to even mention it, but if there was a way where I could shoot every job I got offered in Paris this year, I would take it.
Vacation is another story… Hawaii, Cuba, Tulum, Chile, Caribbean Islands and Istanbul are next on my list.
What’s next for you and your work? Where do you see yourself in a few years time?
I’ve just pitched on three jobs that all shoot the same week so who the hell knows. I could get none or get them all, one might push back, or one might cancel or change brief. Life’s a pitch, when you’re a director. I never know what I’m doing until last minute. Story of my life.
Image courtesy of Kinga Burza.