Seen on screen: Q&A with filmmaker Aaron Christian

  • Aaron Christian
  • Kevin Arulrajah
Director and filmmaker Aaron Christian is a bit of a powerhouse. The fashion blog he started with his brother – a side hustle to the men’s style consultancy they set up together – quickly swelled to become leading menswear website Individualism. Its incredible success was no doubt down to Aaron’s savvy approach to content, bringing fashion alive through filmmaking and digital marketing in a way that the more established fashion magazines hadn’t yet caught on to.
Fast-forward several years and Aaron’s making films for the likes of Adidas, W Magazine, Paul Smith, GQ, focusing on style, fashion and visual expression. But it’s his upcoming film The Internship, that’s got us really excited. Based loosely on his own experience, the film is an exploration of race, class and privilege in the publishing industry. "The film is inspired by both my own story and journey into the publishing world, being exposed to stories from fellow working-class ethnic minorities and hearing their struggle on how difficult it was to gain access to the industry," Aaron says. 'I heard so many stories of trying to balance working multiple jobs to maintain unpaid or lower paying internships, and feeling that their worldview was never really considered or respected.'  When Zetteler’s own Kevin Arulrajah went to chat to Aaron, he’d just smashed his Kickstarter target to take the film into post-production ready for release in October. Read on to hear the pair discuss getting into film and fashion, the importance of seeing yourself represented in the media and how Aaron’s inspiring others to break into filmmaking.
Aaron, you’ve had an impressive career as a filmmaker within the fashion industry, travelling around the world and attending numerous tell us a bit about how it all began?

Thank you, though I still feel I have a long way to go. After graduating in film from university, like many young graduates I was a little scared, and didn’t know where to begin. I knew that in order to start my film career I’d need to intern, or get a runner’s job somewhere. However I didn’t have a single contact in the industry. My older brother Reuben was working as a freelance stylist at the time for small print publications like RWD. He suggested that while I was figuring out my next move, I could work with him. Style and fashion were always my other great passions, so I felt as long as I could incorporate my degree into what we did I’d be up for it. I also knew it’d keep my father off my back for not wasting three years at university. We then had the great/crazy idea of creating a men’s style consultancy. We wanted to be the male version of Trinny and Susannah. As you can imagine two young, inexperienced brown boys trying to teach men (who at the time weren’t too receptive to style advice) how to dress – the business feel flat on its face. 
What did work however was the blog. We wanted to create a blog to help market the service at the time – this was the early days of social. Once I discovered the world of content (this term hadn’t been created back then) I was sold. I read everything under the sun on digital marketing, film, DIY filmmaking, branding, self development, and so on. The website took off and became Individualism, the leading menswear website in the UK. We then grew the team into a collective and it became a platform for young creatives to experiment and play and create great work. We helped blood many great individuals in style whom are doing amazing things now. We pioneered a lot of video tutorials, store tours, style events to take our community offline and then create content off the back of it and go back online again. It was a great time to be in digital as there were no rules. 
Although Individualism was growing as a brand it was difficult to monetise. I was working as a stylist at Topman at the time and saw the editor of Esquireon the shop floor – I was a huge fan. I approached him as asked for an internship. He took up my offer an two weeks later I was at Esquire trying to create all sorts of cool style videos. I was in heaven I couldn’t believe it. The second day of the internship the editor said he was leaving for a new company (that some of us wouldn’t have heard of called Mr Porter). That editor was Jeremy Langmead. I was gutted he was leaving but I stayed in touch. 
I continued to work on Individualism and got a small job at a creative agency doing videography. A year later Jeremy DM-ed me on Twitter and said was a position at Mr Porter that I may be good for. I was probably the least experienced applicant in regards to technical film knowledge but I was doing interesting things in digital with Individualism, and I had a good style knowledge to compliment my film background. I got the job and the rest is history. Phew, that was long!
Read the full exclusive interview with the talented Aaron here.