Are you a fan of TV’s “Project Runway” (and/or its spin-offs “Project Runway Canada” and “Project Catwalk”)?
Yes, we have been big fans of the series since season one, before we met Jay. Sadly, we’ve never seen Project Catwalk. Bravo should air the show from other countries!
How did you come to know “Project Runway” winner Jay McCarroll? Was it difficult to convince him to participate in the documentary after his experience on a hit show and all that goes along with that... was he wary of sharing his life with cameras again?
We met Jay after being hired by Bravo to make “Project Jay,” an hour special on their first winner. After directing quite a bit of non-scripted television, we found it refreshing to document a person who spoke his mind freely, regardless of whether the camera was rolling or not. Jay's blend of creativity and insecurity is not only compelling and entertaining, but very relatable to many struggling artists. The three of us became good friends, and when Jay told us his plans to show at Fashion Week and create his first independent line, it was a no-brainer to continue to document him on our own.
Was it difficult to convince him? Hell no; Jay and the camera are good pals.
Do you think that the audience’s previous familiarity with Jay sets up a different expectation or atypical relationship between subject and audience?
Good question. We wanted this film to exist on its own, apart from “Project Runway”, and we hope to introduce Jay to a whole new audience. I think “Project Runway” fans will see this film in a certain light – perhaps as a sequel to “Project Jay” – but we purposefully dropped the pretences of a reality show (narration-driven scenes, staged scenes for camera, manufactured conflict) to help the audience see him in a decidedly different light.
Arguably, people who are NOT familiar with Jay may enjoy the film more inasmuch as they will not have any pre-conceived notions as to who he is and how stories like his are usually told.
How do you respond to reality TV snobs, who might dismiss this film as fodder for a Project Runway extras DVD?
We hope the reality-TV snobs you speak of see this film! In some ways, they’re our perfect audience! This film is a social critique on the reality-show influence on popular culture.
So many people treat Jay as if he were somehow created in the “Project Runway Laboratory” in the basement of Rockefeller Center. Just because the public was introduced to him on a particular TV show doesn’t mean he should be eternally shackled to it. He’s a fashion designer, and was one before any cameras ever rolled. This film is about his work.
Jay McCarroll – annoying or enigmatic? Can you explain Jay’s appeal?
Both. He is a walking contradiction. He is terribly talented, yet wonderfully insecure. He can be unsympathetic; he can be sensitive. Any artist can relate to his struggle of art vs. commerce. And all the while, he is fabulously funny. How could you not love him?
His main appeal comes from the fact that he refuses to play the game. Whether that helps or hurts him (or both) is the subject of this film.