Eleven Minutes (2009) dir. Michael Selditch and Rob Tate
Right now, there are no less than four reality television shows on the go about the fashion industry - “America’s Next Top Model”, “Project Runway”, “The Hills” and “The City”. It seems looking underneath the veil of the fashion industry is a nightly ritual. On film the tradition goes back even farther to Izaak Mizrahi’s “Unzipped”, Robert Altman’s “Pret-A-Porter”, “The Devil Wears Prada” and the upcoming Anna Wintour doc, “The September Issue” (read my advance review HERE).
With considerably less famous faces than these other films “Eleven Minutes” does everything right to put us into the world of a struggling fashion designer about to hit the industry’s biggest stage, New York Fashion Week.
Jay McCarroll is not exactly obscure though. He was the winner of the first season of “Project Runway” a competition McCarroll freely admits is 90% talent, 10% personality, with the final 10 pushing him to victory. But after the show’s ending, McCarroll reveals he was cut loose to fend for himself in the industry. After two years of trying to get his design business off the ground, he’s finally secured a spot at Bryant Park – the home of New York Fashion week. The problem is he has 8 months, no financing, and only some drawings on a paper.
And so within these eight months leading up to the big day we watch as Jay goes through the creative and business process of creating a fashion line – drawing and choosing his designs, securing financing, hiring staff, publicists, models, event coordinators etc. The title “Eleven Minutes” refers to the actual running time of McCarroll’s final show, which puts into perspective the ratio of glory to hard work it takes to succeed at the top level. The film captures all the cuthroatness, bitchiness and diva eye-rolling we expect to see.
The “Project Runway” connection is both a blessing and curse for McCarroll. While McCarroll can walk into a room and get noticed, it’s often harder to be taken seriously. Whitney’s old boss from the “The Hills”, the bitchy Kelly Cutrone is featured prominently as Jay's event publicist and confesses to the camera that no one, from any of those reality shows, has ever made it.
So, as much as the film is about the process of art, whether Jay or the filmmakers like it or not, it’s also about reality television. Perhaps this is the strongest part of the film. We’ve seen the process of fashion before, but we’ve never seen a former reality celebrity trying make a living at what he’s famous for. Enjoy.
"Eleven Minutes" is in select theatres starting this week via Regent Releasing.