When the sisters behind high-fashion label Rodarte decided to make their debut film Woodshock, they looked for inspiration where they have always searched — in the redwood forests by their Northern California coastal home.
Laura Mulleavy, 38, and Kate Mulleavy, 37, took the majestic and ethereal wooded landscapes near their hometown of Aptos, California, to write and direct a dark poetic thriller of a young woman’s psychological descent after the death of her mother.
“We were always very inspired by nature,” Laura said.
“In writing our first film, we definitely were really looking at nature through a microscope, the idea that we’re so connected to the natural world and yet we have completely, as human beings. In a lot of ways we’ve cut ourselves off from that connection.”
Woodshock follows Theresa (Kirsten Dunst), who works at a marijuana shop in a rural coastal California town and drifts like a wood nymph in a weed haze through the redwood trees that are slowly being cut down.
Made for around $5 million (Dh18.3 million), the Mulleavys brought their years of running a successful independent fashion label to the business of independent filmmaking.
“Having run [Rodarte] for 12 years, you really learn to be a creative protector of the ideas and the vision behind what you’re doing and that is something we could very solidly bring into film,” Kate said.
The striking visuals of the eerie forests, misty tree tops and vibrant flora of Humboldt County, California play a starring role in Theresa’s journey, as well as echoing the bohemian California aesthetic that marks the Rodarte runway collections.
Rodarte’s most recent spring-summer 2018 collection featured models in delicate lace dresses accented with baby’s breath flowers draped through their hair, detailed flower embroidery and vibrant flora prints.
The film has received mixed reviews, with some praising the artistic visuals and dream-like sequences, while others found the plot to be slumberous.
“When you make anything that’s not homogenous and not cookie-cutter and understandable in the typical straightforward way, that will be provocative and that’s exciting,” Kate Mulleavy said.
“We’re two very intelligent women and that is not always taken in the right way in terms of creativity... a woman’s work and a man’s work are very differently spoken of in the creative field,” she said.