Brit Marling by Michael Muller

Michael Muller recently photographed a fashion story with filmmaker/actress Brit Marling, who stars in and cowrote the much-buzzed-about new indie movie Sound of My Voice, for the 10th-anniversary issue of Malibu magazine. The two were an excellent match: Michael is known for shooting action-movie posters and diving with great white sharks, and Marling—a finance major who turned down a plum job at Goldman Sachs to pursue acting—is known for her arresting combination of intelligence, beauty, and talent. It was a case of two potent artists coming together.

“Our shoot together was out of this world,” Marling told us by email. “It goes without saying that I loved the images—I felt so in sync with Michael and so encouraged to be free. He has the most marvelous energy, and his art astounds.”

As for Michael, he has made a career of photographing celebrities and knows a true star when he sees one. “I’m sure she has a long career ahead of her,” he says.

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Brit Marling. Photo by Michael Muller.

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More photos below, plus a quick Q&A I did with Michael about the shoot. Read the Malibu interview with Brit online here.

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You’re especially well known for your movie posters (Battleship, X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc.) and, more recently, your underwater shark shoots. How did you approach shooting a rising young star for a fashion feature?
I approached this the same way I do every shoot, which is to put my entire being into it. I will be honest—I had some nerves. It’s funny because you’d think I’d get nervous hopping in the water with sharks without a cage but, no, fashion gives me pause. I think it’s because I don’t shoot a lot of it, and it’s a genre that a dozen or so shooters dominate. I just went in with the mindset of “What would Helmut do?”

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How involved were you in the discussions about wardrobe and styling?
I gave a brief description of what we were gonna do and left it to the artist to do what they do best. I really don’t micromanage, especially with other artists. I knew the team I was working with are all at the top of their fields, so I trusted their process and taste. (I will say I can’t believe how accomplished Brad Giorski has become in the short amount of time he’s been styling.) Just like I thought, they all delivered and hit it out of the park!

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Had you met or worked with Brit before? What was your impression of her?
No, I had never worked with her before and had no history with Her. Those situations are always interesting because there are no preconceived notions. It’s like a blind date, in a sense.

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She mentioned you made her feel at ease. Tell me about how you interacted with her, how you spoke to her.
It wasn’t just about her being at ease. Upon meeting and starting to co-create with her, I felt as if I’d known her for years. I spoke to her the same way I speak to any person I’m about to begin this intimate process with, and that’s with respect, trust, and understanding. I feel I really need to “listen” to them, and that doesn’t just apply to words but what they are telling me with their actions, how they are carrying themselves. A lot is said without a word even being spoken. I guess having a wife and three daughters trains me to do a lot of listening. ;)

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I know you like to get the shot for the client and then experiment if there’s time. What sorts of things did you try in this case?
Well, obviously, doing an editorial like this is completely different from working with ad clients. There isn’t “a” shot we are going for but more a whole story we are trying to tell and at the same time expose a different side to this person, a small piece of truth hopefully that hasn’t been seen before. Brit is an incredibly intelligent woman, but what blew me away was how comfortable she was in front of the camera. It was like she came alive in a way I don’t see too often. There was a groove, a flow happening. I just tried to jump on and ride the wave of energy that was transpiring in that studio. She was a dream to shoot, really, and the clothes were dreamy and came to life with her.

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Brit Marling. Photo by Michael Muller.

Brit Marling. Photo by Michael Muller.

Brit Marling. Photo by Michael Muller.

Brit Marling. Photo by Michael Muller.

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