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Jodie Fried

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

We reach Jodie Fried at the tail end of a long day. She's finally enjoying a moment to herself after a gruelling 12-hour day on the set of a new film project in Melbourne. The project in question is Drink Wise; a commercial film campaign that explores drinking through the decades. Rather topically it's aimed at promoting responsible drinking. The day involved the fitting of 87 costumes, spanning almost a half century of style - exhausting work no doubt.
In the lead up to the Sydney Film Festival, Fried is so busy with projects that divide her time equally between her Sydney home and one in our Melbourne, she was not aware that one of her self-confessed favourite short film projects of recent times, Love This Time, is set to screen at the Dendy Opera Quays later in June.
As for her past accomplishments: in Candy, the gritty tale about heroin addiction staring Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish, we saw her designs adorn the silver screen. Then once again in the 2007 release Romulus, My Father. She also assisted on the award-wining Little Fish.
Today Fried - who speaks of her time spent working in Bollywood as the perfect transition from stage to film - is one of Australia's most respected indie costume designers. But, as she rather eloquently explains, her craft is about so much more than dressing up characters in current or past fashion trends. It would appear subtly seals the deal time and time again for Fried.
"Luckily most directors I work with are making the period costume really subtle, very interesting and really about the storytelling." She tells me from her Melbourne home. "I'm not really interested in doing work that is super simple or super obvious. I like to bring my own style and bring a bit of a quirky element."
Fried is rather fixated on creating a style so flawlessly suitable to the period, not to mention the characters. Ultimately the costumes become aspects of the happy marriage of filmic elements, not a feature article. She's known for her trademark ‘bibles' (massive scrapbook filled with extensively researched colour tones, swatches, concepts and ideas) that she proudly presents to directors and actors alike. She then works closely with her colleagues, taking a lot from their final input. Fried explains these so-called bibles exist because research is key; she does not believe in simply lifting a look from the pages of an old fashion magazine.
"Costuming is like art direction and design" Fried elaborates, when asked her thoughts on what role a costume should play in a film. "It's as important as every element in a film but it has to be so right that you can't notice it."
It's a delicate balancing act that the young NIDA graduate achieves time and time again, whether it be through the period peasant dress and tailored suits worn by Harry, in the Herringbone campaign depicting the humorous tale of a tailor with hands the size of a small child, or the contemporary dress adorning the street revellers of the more recent A Moment of Schweppervescence series.
Her immersion in the world of style does not end with her film offerings either. Fried is the proud owner, curator and creator of a home wares range, born of her time spent in India, aptly named Bholu. If her past achievements are anything to go by, life won't be slowing down any over the next few years; Fried will undoubtedly have more films popping up at festivals around the world.

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