An interview with the creatives behind Carter Young’s SS21 ‘Obscured’ Film, Haley E. Anderson, Anthony J. Thomas, Roeg Cohen and Carter Young

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Interviewer  

What has it been like to collaborate together?

 

Carter Young  

Being able to create with the people that I respect -- being Haley, Anthony, and Roeg (has been)a really fulfilling process in a way because it feels like I found people who helped me go further with words than I ever could. 

 

Haley Elizabeth Anderson  

This process was less like work -- it wasn't like work at all. It was just like meeting new friends. This was the first project I did [since quarantine]. I was frozen like an iceberg. And [this project] cracked me open. I don't want to sound cheesy or anything, but it was a very healing process. I used it to kind of bring myself back into social life in connection with other human beings. So it's just so meaningful to me. 

 

Roeg Cohen  

[When Carter and I first got together] we just talked about our lives and just talked about things and then like some things came of that even without a specific script or an idea. There's just been this constant bouncing of ideas back and forth and talking about things and then stuff comes from it.  I think we just have this synchronicity -- even though there's a lot of years between us -- there's a synchronicity between how we think and I feel like he brought together all these people that have that same thing. Like Haley accidentally texted me something one day and it seemed so much like something that she would have been texting me, that we had a conversation for like 20 minutes and an hour later, she's like, I'm so sorry, but that wasn't for you. It was like we all knew each other. Like when Haley asked me to [act in]  the movie, I had had two beers, so I said yes, but I had never done that before. And it made me nervous, but I liked her work. I mean, I don't think it's cheesy to say it's been a healing process. It felt so good, every aspect of it. You have to love what you're doing to make this kind of thing. I think that when you look back on it throughout your life that the work has meaning -- no matter what anybody else thought of it.

 

Anthony Jamari Thomas  

Yeah, I thought the process was, first off, very fun. I've done a lot of collaborative work that I felt, unfortunately, there was like this performativity aspect. When we kicked this off, everyone was coming to kind of bridge their worlds together. The biggest takeaway for me is that there can be harmony when there are so many creative people working on one thing at one time. That was something that I've always been just curious about -- how do people who've invested and spent so much time on their own practice come together and build something like this? And I got my answer. Haley's an incredible mind and Roeg is poised and sharp and Carter's just vulnerable and open every time he starts a project. So I thought that was the medicine that was necessary to be able to create this type of thing.

 

Carter Young  

It felt like a group of friends trying to do something that we all agreed was cool. It felt like, if I could do anything with my life in this moment, it would be having this dialogue with all of you and trying to do exactly what it is that we were doing. 

 

Haley Elizabeth Anderson  

You have a camera and you can just do something. There's like no excuses not to do something, if you have friends, you have time. Even if it's just a few hours, if everybody's game, it's like you can just be kind of creating something from vibing off of each other. And that's beautiful. It's the most basic way to create something, at least in film.

 

Interviewer  

Have you guys thought about how you're going to take this experience that you have had with this project and recreate it with future projects? Have you learned anything from this culture? 

 

Anthony Jamari Thomas  

I think it's this community that we've made and this feeling... I mean, I'm really in love with jazz. That has nothing to do with this film. But, in terms of all the jazz things that I really really like, (the artists) spoke a lot -- Thelonious Monk, Pharoah Sanders and all the artists that I really like -- they always spoke about having a sense of like jamming with the homies and genuine people that you care about and really appreciate the sound and textures as you're trying to make. I think that's what we had. Everyone had such genuine care about this thing getting done. And it was hot as hell. It was a lot of moving around. The beach had me like living two lives because when we finished a beach session, I went to sleep for 80 minutes, and then we had to shoot that same night. You know, that's not a snipe at Haley -- I still love you. But I think it was pure and the purity of everyone's intentions made it effortless. I would love to see this -- or at least have this feeling -- at every project that I commit to. Now that I've experienced it, I'll be able to recognize it that much faster when I go to my next project.

 

Interviewer  

Can you describe the concept behind the video and how that concept came to be?

 

Haley Elizabeth Anderson  

My thoughts had already started before he asked me. And then he introduced me to Anthony. Anthony and I just started vibing on -- man, it feels like it was so long ago, but it wasn't. I think my thoughts really got started when you said something about waffles, Anthony. Just went from waffles and then Carter saying something about Americana and saying that he wanted to explore what American meant through these traditional images, but then kind of remixed it. And I liked that idea a lot. Anthony and I were talking and I remember it just felt like it was a constant flow just back and forth just talking about random stuff. But with the intention of painting this different picture of like, what America is. We were really interested in changing the faces and shapeshifting. I was always thinking about the idea of triple consciousness. Always being aware, like when you're an immigrant and you're here, like you're an American, but also you have these other things that you're thinking about, and they can change. You can switch anytime, depending on where you are and I was thinking about that a lot when I was talking and thinking about the changes when the characters kind of switch out of nowhere. In the end thinking about how Carter's work, you know, you're wearing clothes. It's something that Anthony said about somebody trying to keep their fit looking fresh throughout one day. When you said that, it kind of inspired the whole idea. It's like this person is just walking through one day trying to keep their fit looking fresh. 

 

Anthony Jamari Thomas  

(Carter) introduced me to Haley and it was casual. I looked at her work beforehand and I was blown away. So I was hella nervous to get on the phone with her. I was like, I don't have any sick witty cinema references. Let me watch Criterion for a day. So then I ended up just getting on the phone, and we spoke about like, just the day, how hot it was. And I knew that that was gonna be one of the things about our conversations that they would be so natural and so relaxed, and they will flow well. So when we jumped into the script, that's pretty much how it continued to be. Almost as if it was like a rap song, we just kept going back and forth with verses. It was never really any judgment. There was this critical element to it, but just because we wanted to make the dopest thing. But there was still this, again, a sense of openness that I really do appreciate when I work on projects. So the script came about fairly quickly. A lot of it was just like editing, kind of stripping the concept down, but the first conversation that Carter, Haley, and I had on FaceTime, that was what really cemented the concept for me. And then I mentioned someone just kind of waking up and wanting to protect their identity throughout the day, like what does that look like? What does that feel like? And if you can't protect your identity, what can you hold on? So the concept of home being this thing that's intangible yet tangible that can kind of create a safe space that you can follow, even if you're 10,000 miles from it, you can still follow home wherever you decide that to be. So once you got into that type of literature, that type of language, it became so poetic. It kept my attraction level. I just kept indulging more and more. 

 

Interviewer 

How did the Carter Young collection influence the concept? 

 

Roeg Cohen  

My only participation is that some of my images are on the clothes. It's actually like a thirty-five-millimeter picture. That's a picture of mine and like there's a shirt that has all the horses as the pattern and those are all pictures of mine. My participation in that was Carter talking back and forth with me and sending me examples of what I thought. 

 

Anthony Jamari Thomas  

I've been following Carter's work for about three years. Something about this collection when he first showed it to me that I kept repeating the word “soul”. I felt like the collection had soul to it. Not to say that his other collection was soulless, but this one, it gave me a funky vibe. He and I speak a lot about the presentation. Because he's such a tactical person he's able to actually execute ideas that he comes up with and follow through. When I saw this collection again (there was) a particular button-down, it has the paneled horse prints all throughout, which is an incredible piece. He kind of sold me on that and, I don't know, the collection to me it's the reds in it, the details, the shapes. A lot of it was reminiscent of its own universe, but it also reminded me of New York too, how it had this grit to it. And just a lot of soul. So when I saw the actual collection for the first time, when we shot the lookbook, it made sense that this film was structured the way it was because it had a lot of, again movement and attention but it also had this carefree energy to it that I really loved. To balance design (these) sartorial pieces, with this kind of carefree openness and flow, I thought that was just beautiful.

 

Haley Elizabeth Anderson  

I feel my own work it's so personal. Like the fact that Carter put polaroids on the shirt, the fact that Carter put initials on things. It just made me so emotional in a way. It just put more weight on everything. That's how I kind of approach things like folding in your friends and your people which means something.

 

Carter Young  

The real impact of the film that I felt was that it almost felt like a lens into a world that I've always wanted to live in. Like we somehow, instead of fabricating a reality, instead got a peephole into a world that really is happening around us. All of us being there together and working on the same project, that was the world. In a way what we were capturing was almost more documentary than narrative, because it felt like, at least to me, that this was the truest expression of who we were as creatives and people and friends in that moment. And I think it was a pleasure to work with all of you to experience that. 

 

Anthony Jamari Thomas  

But I'm really thankful. I mean, we pulled this off post quarantine, in the middle of a pandemic that is still roaring through the city. I mean, I have a lot of people that are affected by it. I know you know, you guys too as well, unemployment, all these different things that, you know, literally create hindrances for people to think and create to be kind of open and optimistic about life. And the fact that we were able to bring something like this together, that literally every time I click on it, it gives me a good feeling. But I think right now, at this moment I think it's one of the most brave things is to actually go out and do something like this in a time where again, it's just so much being lost. And I think you know, this is not going to heal the world. But I think as you know, Roeg, Haley, and Carter mentioned is that we were able to create a universe that essentially we will all want to be in right now. And unfortunately, the reality of having that may seem bleak, but the fact that we'd be able to simulate it in this film, means there is still some hope that we all have. This is a very courageous work. And I think everybody involved was very brave about their approach to this. So I just want to thank you, guys.

Conducted and edited by Margaux MacColl and Adam Kaplan

SS20 'Blue Hour' Presentation 

Sept. 2019. Sid and Foster at Short Stories during NYFW.

Photos by Isaac Anthony

FW19 'Ozymandias' Campaign by Michelle Wei 

Sept. 2019. Maya in New York by Michelle Wei.

Photos by Michelle Wei

Kate Vitamin by Alejandro Martin-Lorenzo

Jan. 2019. Kate in New York by Alejandro Martin-Lorenzo.

Photos by Alejandro Martin-Lorenzo

Spenser Granese by Roeg Cohen 

Dec. 2018. Spenser in Brooklyn by Roeg Cohen.

Photos by Roeg Cohen

'No Time, No Space' Editorial in Schon!

Jan. 2018. Anenliek and Sian in Italy by Martina Finazzi and Lucrezia Ganazzoli.

Photos by Lucrezia Ganazzoli