Gus Van Sant’s Candid Polaroids of Hollywood’s Rising Stars.

A new book has been published by La Cinémathèque Française with Actes Sud which presents a window into Van Sant’s world through in-depth interviews, artworks, moodboards, diagrams, on-set photographs and best of all the Polaroids Van Sant took of stars that came through his studio when he first began his career.

These Polaroids were used as a casting tool for the director.The Polaroids featured in the book were taken between 1983 and 1999, and were shot on a “refurbished old Polaroid” camera the director bought in the mid-70s, after finishing his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. The camera produced a small print plus a negative. In order to use the negative the director would have to go into the bathroom after shooting the photo and wash them and then hang them up to dry in his office. “With Drugstore Cowboy, all these different people would come in, like John Glover [and] the Chili Peppers members. People were coming in and I was thinking I should use the negative film. The director recounts, “It was hard for me because I would meet ten people within a couple of hours, and then I’d have to go back to the bathroom – in a big building in Santa Monica that had thirty floors, an office building bathroom – and try and put [the negatives] in a pan and wash them and hang them up. I would hang them up in my office with clothes-pins because they had to drip dry. So it was a little bit of a pain in the ass, but I did it because I thought, now that I’m taking all these photos of all these different character actors and also sometimes bigger actors or musicians, then I’ll have a collection and I can have a show – like that was the whole point. But then meanwhile, I was using the photos themselves for casting.”

Gus Van Sant: Icons is out now, published by La Cinémathèque Française with Actes Sud


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