Film & TV

This 150-Minute Art Film Examines the Rise of Celebrities Who’re ‘Famous For Being Famous’

Film & TV

This 150-Minute Art Film Examines the Rise of Celebrities Who’re ‘Famous For Being Famous’

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The student filmmaker who delivered that bizarre art project, Speidihas returned with another oddball film that examines celebrity culture through a 150-minute collection of found footage. In Famous For Being FamousWill Rebein focuses on the phenomenon of talentless young adults who become tabloid obsessions and billionaire moguls.

First it was party queen Paris Hilton, who singlehandedly birthed this cultural norm in the early aughts with her iconic sex tape and famous run-ins with the law. Once media grew tired of Hilton, they moved onto Kim Kardashian, now seemingly untouchable and unfortunately unavoidable. Rebein’s film, impressively researched, gives insight into the pair’s post-Nicole Richie friendship and how this helped launch Kardashian’s seemingly unstoppable career.

We caught up with the buzzy filmmaker to discuss all things Famous For Being Famous, which can be viewed in full, below. It’s a long watch, but a fascinating approach to examining celebrity in a way TMZ could never.

 

 

You made Speidi and followed it with Famous For Being Famous. Why this project next?

“Heidi and Spencer were able to use the media as a tool to build their brands outside of reality television, which was first attempted by Paris Hilton. I wanted to further explore this topic because I find it absolutely fascinating that celebrities can make millions from being their own brand. The Kardashians/Jenners and Paris Hilton have done this on a much larger scale by creating their own empires, which has shaped the culture of celebrity in the new millennium. This capability of becoming your own brand is even more prominent now with people using social media platforms to become famous and to promote their products and projects. I felt that creating a timeline of the evolution of fame through Paris and Kim would be powerful to watch.”

Describe to me your obsession with fame, as it’s not like most people’s obsession. How does this play into your work?

“My interest with fame originated during my childhood because it was a way to fantasize about a different reality. Figures like Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan seemed to have an easy life and that was more appealing to me than being a gay boy living in the Midwest. I also felt a connection to them by reading about them, which filled certain voids in my life during that time. However, a lot of my obsession with it now is more about trying to understand why we are so obsessed with these figures in the first place and the phenomenon of fame itself. My work sort of channels my obsession because I really enjoy the process of putting the films together and want to make them as detailed as possible.”

What films inspire you?

“I am very inspired by The Ring because of its haunting nature and dark music. Watching it in elementary school is my first memory of loving a movie. I go through phases where I am heavily interested in one movie or television show, so for a while it was Nip Tuck, The Hills, and The Bling Ring, just to name a few. Each of them is visually pleasing and carefully constructed. I try to do the same. Nip Tuck in particular is one of my favorites because the music in the show meshes really well with the scenes and creates a more impactful viewing experience.”

Describe your aesthetic. 

“My work is a combination of experimenting and following a general outline in my head. I always begin and end with a clip or compilation of clips and a song that provokes an overall mood of the film. I also like to incorporate transition scenes in black/white and use paparazzi images or clips as the background video for my text cards.”

What was the process behind finding all the clips in Famous For Being Famous?

“I just collect as many as possible, usually from YouTube. I start my process by thinking of a paparazzi clip or interview that stands out in my memory, locate it, and then explore any relating clips that show up. The challenging part is deciding what clips to use and editing them. I had to spend hours watching hundreds of videos to decide which clips were relevant to the story and how much of the clip to use– whether it’s two minutes of an interview or 10 seconds of a video that I can use as a transition. I also made sure that each clip flows well into the next one, so the viewer feels like they are watching a seamless film rather than individual YouTube clips”.

Is your work celebratory or critical?

“I think it can be viewed as both critical and celebratory, depending on how the viewer perceives fame or the figures in the film. I try to frame it in a way that allows the viewer to make that conclusion, but my personal view of it is more on the celebratory side.”

How do you feel your work is of greater artistic merit than a mere YouTube playlist?

“Well it’s not just back to back clips even though it may seem like it. My films require months of editing to create, except Speidi which only took a couple weeks. It’s kind of like putting together a giant puzzle; all the parts have to fit together. The clips on an individual level even have to be pieced together because I edit out a lot of the content. The combination of clips and thorough editing create a new message that can’t be experienced from just watching the clips on YouTube.”

Why do you think contemporary culture obsesses over celebrities in this way?

“I believe that people have a curiosity about the culture of wealth to various extents and celebrities are the epitome of that. Social media increases that interest because celebrities are more accessible and visible. It’s a form of entertainment or distraction from ordinary life.”

Keep Reading: ‘This Student Made a 150-Minute Art Film About Heidi Montag (Because Art)’