Imaginative cinematographer Alan Jacobsen shines in new Netlfix documentary Worn Clothes

April 12, 2021

Alan Jacobsen’s bold cinematography for the Netflix original documentary series Worn Stories is now available to watch globally. 

Adapted from Emily Spivack’s New York Times best-selling book and helmed by Jenji Kohen alongside Tremolo and Tilted Productions, Worn Stories explores the often-overlooked memoirs living inside beloved articles of clothing. Owned by inspiring cultural figures and talented storytellers, each episode is themed and features a mix of dynamic interviews, animated sequences and archival footage, which brings joyful, and often surprising, stories to life.  

Across eight episodes, the series offers new ways to think about our clothes, selves, and shared human experiences. Jacobsen lensed much of the pilot and episodes five and six, in addition to segments within other episodes. 

“Finding ways to visualise the often intensely emotional connections we have with our clothes is the wonderful challenge of Worn Stories,” said Jacobsen who used the Sony Venice, Cooke S4i Lenses, Litemat Spectrum and EasyRig to achieve his looks.

“One fun element of this show was a miniature world I created with extreme macro cinematography,” added Jacobsen. “For example, Patrice talked about how she liked to imagine herself escaping into her elaborate miniature train set she had built across her living room — as a way to deal with some of the discrimination she deals with as a disabled person.   

Jacobsen’s set up for ‘Patrice Town’

“As I am always looking for ways to visually represent the more ‘internal’ stories of our subjects, I used the remarkable Laowa 24mm Probe lens to shoot some very very close up ‘scenes’ within Patrice’s miniature world. I then photographed her on green screen, to be able to composite her into the streets and buildings of ‘Patrice Town.’ It worked out really great and became a wonderful way to show Patrice’s survival instinct and inspiring outlook on life. Our EP Morgan Neville liked it so much that the miniature model aesthetic became the stylistic through-line of the episode, and additional miniature elements were shot with the episode’s other characters.

“Many of our tales take place in the past or are otherwise shaped by memory and emotion. I love the photographic possibilities we can use to translate abstract feelings such as love, longing or loss, into compelling, evocative visuals to support and enhance the storytelling. For Worn Stories, I was able to pitch some fun, unexpected techniques including miniatures, greenscreen, projection, animation, and even the unique ‘Hanger Cam’ where the camera was mounted to a clothes hanger as it travels throughout the city for a day!  It’s a distinct joy to work with directors, producers and other cinematographers, who value taking chances with bold new looks – and Worn Stories was just the right fit for trying on something new!”   

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