In advance of tonight's sold-out preview screening at 92YTribeca, filmmaker R.J.Cutler made a special appearance yesterday to discuss and promote his documentary The September Issue at the Apple Store in SoHo. The film, as you probably know by now, profiles Vogue Editor in Chief Anna Wintour and chronicles the creation of the September 2007 issue, the largest single issue of a magazine ever published.
A few rumors were debunked including most obviously the myth that Anna Wintour is controlling the promotion of the film with an iron fist. There was absolutely no Vogue presence at the Apple Store. This was actually a good thing as it allowed the director to talk about Wintour freely. In fact, the event was very low key, as Apple does little more to promote its events beyond publishing a calendar on its website and distributing pamphlets in-store. This talk was geared more towards film than fashion folk, as Cutler made sure to note that the movie was edited with Apple's Final Cut Pro software. The discussion will be made available shortly in podcast form as part of iTunes' Meet The Filmmakers series.
Here are a few of the interesting tidbits about the film that Cutler dropped yesterday:
• Wintour agreed to Cutler's having final cut out of respect for him as a journalist and as the daughter of a journalist —a decision she may have regretted at times. After seeing a rough cut of the film, she responded with praise and a long list of "suggestions".
• The process of boiling down the enormous amount of footage was so complicated that one late-stage cut of the film actually eliminated Editor At Large André Leon Talley entirely! Clearly a huge mistake, Talley was abundantly re-inserted into the next cut.
• Cutler immediately knew he wanted to make a movie about Wintour not because of her own personality but because of the way other people reacted to her. She has a command of her environment and, according to him, the ability to change the temperature in a room with her mood.
• Ultimately, the film is less about Wintour herself than it is about her relationship with Vogue's Creative Director Grace Coddington, who was initially so disinterested in the project that she refused to allow herself to be filmed at all until four months into the nine-month shooting schedule, and had to be practically begged to participate.
• The two are apparently Vogue's Yin and Yang with Wintour's office described as a "freezer of efficiency" and Coddington's as an "incubator of creativity". He also had great admiration for the rest of the magazine's staff including Tonne Goodman, Sally Singer and Phyllis Posnick among others whom he described as an all-star team of editors.
Cutler was careful to remind his audience that despite all the attention the movie was drawing in the fashion press, it is still an independent documentary with an independent documentary's promotional budget, meaning a tiny one, so he implored everyone to please go see the movie, which is already scheduled for release in major U.S. cities.
The September Issue opens in New York on August 28th and in other cities on September 11th.
Our calendar is marked.