Brisbane-based director and creative producer Grace Julia has released Brutal, a fashion film produced in the volatile atmosphere of COVID-19. Inspired by the concept of isolation, personal experiences and the aesthetic of brutalist architecture, the story behind Brutal’s production is compelling.

“I wanted to create a film around a few words that had been repeating in my mind as we entered lockdown,” explained Grace. “I thought I would miss you, but I don’t.” Filmed in two days with just a five-member crew, lockdown restrictions proved to not be the only factor that challenged production. Twelve hours before shoot commencement, Grace’s model pulled out. Grace later said that this was a blessing in disguise, as this led to the serendipitous casting of talented Indigenous model Perry Mooney.

As a Hungarian-Australian and the daughter of a refugee, Grace advocates more diverse on-screen representation and is the festival director of Belong Short Film Festival, which celebrates Australia’s evolving identity.

Grace has worked with notable brands including KFC, Hostelworld and Jaguar in her career. Grace’s previous works have featured in the Official Selection at La Jolla, Seattle and London Fashion Film Festivals, including Adele, which was awarded Best Live Action Short at Sydney Film Festival 2017.

Georgia Wolff, the designer behind Brutal’s ephemeral and thought-provoking fashion, said that she felt excited and honoured when asked to come on board. Georgia’s eponymous luxury label works with fabric from small businesses that would otherwise end up in landfills to create limited, high-quality collections.

Reflecting on the film’s production, Grace elaborated on why she wanted to continue filming through the pandemic. “Faced by the COVID-19 pandemic, myself and director of photography Julian Panetta were itching to keep creating. Like most other creatives, our freelance careers were put on hold, but I am thankful for the opportunity that unfolded,” she said.

Watch Brutal now on Vimeo, or view it on Grace’s Instagram.

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