"Jeremy Scott Is An Underdog": Documentary's Director Tells Us Why
Vlad Yudin, director of Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer – in theaters now – is a patient man. He followed us all over Milk Studios, looking for a quiet place to sit amidst busy fashion week preparation and construction. While wandering around must have been annoying for Yudin, he didn’t show it; he is unfailingly polite and professional. It makes sense – Yudin, at 32, is surprisingly young for such a successful documentarian, and carries himself with a certain sense of dignity. Before The People’s Designer, he helmed a well-received film about bodybuilders, Generation Iron.
Born in Moscow, Yudin emigrated to New York at 13, and still speaks with a lilting accent. He is deeply passionate about his work, and seemed wholly enamored of Scott. We eventually settled somewhere where the drills weren’t totally deafening in order to chat about his latest project, which is an in-depth look at the MADE designer, and his improbable rise from Missouri farm boy to major fashion world celebrity.
When did you first decide to become a documentary filmmaker?
Film was always my passion, something I wanted to do. I chose documentaries because I just had so much passion about it. I feel like documentaries in general don’t get the respect they deserve; people always want to put them in a subcategory, as opposed to narrative films, so I wanted to focus on documentaries because I feel like it’s actually more challenging to make a documentary.
With documentaries, you’re never really done with the film, not until its very final moment in postproduction. It’s always evolving, from the first moment you start shooting, to the point where even when it’s almost complete, it’s always changing. You do research, and you get so deep into a subject. It’s more challenging than working just off of a script. Obviously, narrative films have their challenges, but a documentary is way more challenging, and also interesting, because you learn so much throughout the process. It doesn’t matter what a subject matter is, because it still changes your mind, in a certain aspect. That’s why I chose that field.
“For me, he’s one of the most visionary designers of his generation.”
Obviously, this subject is a big change from your last film. What about Jeremy in particular did you find intriguing?
To me, Jeremy is an underdog character, and it was interesting throughout the story, because he’s an American designer, who went over to Europe and really got his career started over there, which was challenging to do, I thought. He then came back to the US to pursue his career further, and he’s really got his mainstream appeal now, finally. But he’s been doing it for so many years. I learned his story of growing up in Kansas City on a farm, and how challenging that was for him, because he was really oppressed by his local community for being different, for dressing up the way he was dressing up, and using his creativity.
On the other side, fashion interested me – to get into that field and explore it in detail. To do it through Jeremy’s eyes was amazing, because it’s a whole different world for me to get into and understand. For me, he’s one of the most visionary designers of his generation.
Do you see any similarities between this and your last film? They’re both sort of underdog stories.
Yeah, definitely the main connecting point was that they’re underdog stories. There wasn’t one main character in Generation Iron, but there was a guy who had grown up in poverty and worked to achieve his dream. In Jeremy’s case, he was an underdog from Kansas City, entering this big, cruel world of fashion. So there were definitely similarities in that respect, although obviously the two worlds are very different.
Very different! Although, I suppose that you could posit that they’re both kind of about the body. Is that too much of a leap for me to make?
No, you could definitely make that connection. They’re both about looks, you know?
“The personal is the most compelling. I couldn’t have chosen a better subject to connect with.”
Is that something you connect with personally, this sort of underdog story about breaking into a very difficult industry?
Absolutely. To me, it’s the best. I like characters that are not polished, so that there are challenges – something within them or exterior challenges that they face- that’s what I connect with personally.
You traveled all over with Jeremy. Is there any particular experience that stands out to you?
For me, it was just going back to Kansas City with his family, and traveling to the farm where he grew up. He hadn’t visited that farm in about a decade. It was amazing, because you see this designer – and obviously, people outside of the fashion world have a perception of what designers are like. So to see him visit the farm and be very comfortable there, and just to be with his family, was very special to me personally. You go to Milan, Paris – you see all these fabulous events, and so very high fashion, and it’s all interesting, but for me, the personal is the most compelling. I couldn’t have chosen a better subject to connect with.
‘Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer’ is in theaters now, get tickets here
All images courtesy of the Vladar Company