This film is competing in
The She Directed Filmmaker Contest
Director(s): Jason & Blue
This is a 2 minute sample of a feature length documentary called Dawn Dusk.
Chelli Look has always been creating. When she was young it was with cardboard, cutting, gluing, crafting it into any object she could. Creation is an outlet for her, it’s like she has these things inside of her that she has to release, has to create, has to make. It’s how she makes herself known to the world. It’s how she communicates. It’s a release for her. So when her older sister Megan hand- made a bag in school Chelli latched onto this new way to create. When Megan encouraged Chelli to make a bag for herself, it lit a fire and Chelli taught herself to make her own bag. That fire has since driven her through her life and career as a leather bag designer. That drive was interrupted when Chelli’s best friend & business partner, Renee, was killed in a car accident and not even a year later, Chelli received a call - Megan had been brutally murdered by Megan’s husband Brian. How does one move forward after something like that? Chelli’s creating took on a darker turn. She struggled. Her work was not meeting her expectations, it was not what she knew she was capable of. She couldn’t find her voice. She had night terrors, woke up screaming. Sleepless, she was lost and broken.
Three years later, at trial Brian was sentenced to life in prison. Chelli was trying to move on, but the experience of the trial had brought everything crashing down on her again ten-fold. During that heartache, a quiet voice came to her in her grieving, “Pray for him.” She refused. For a year she refused and fought the idea of forgiveness until one day when she listened to that voice and said one prayer. That one prayer lead her to keep praying for him and she eventually chose to forgive him. In that moment there was a release. Her night terrors stopped and never came back. Her creativity began to flourish. She began to flourish.
Today, Chelli is the owner & designer of CHC a leather bag company and line. The fashion community has high hopes for Chelli. CHC is growing and evolving. Faith, ethics, and community drive her business model. Her bags are handmade, with USA sourced leather. Her bags are high fashion yet functional; minimal at first glance but deeply complex upon inspection. Chelli serves weekly at an organization called WINGS - a shelter for domestic violence victims, and a portion of profit from every bag goes to supporting them. WINGS hosted a gala in which Megan was honored and Chelli was the main speaker. We were there to capture it. She spoke about leaving a legacy and how Megan left behind a legacy of love. She then asked “What legacy will you leave? Will you choose to love?”
We met Chelli through mutual friends in Chicago and we were very inspired by her work ethic and aesthetic and so we approached her about creating a short “maker” piece about her work. But as we began to hear her story, and her powerful choice of forgiveness, we knew that our film was going to be much more than an aesthetic piece. We realized that her story needed a feature length format to truly be told well.
Through artistic interviews and imagery we tell Chelli’s story while simultaneously showing the audience her art and her present day business. Over the course of the documentary we see her construct 5 bags from her current collection which is called Dawn Dusk. At the end of the film we will see the completed bags worn by models in a sequence we’re calling a “symphony of bags & light.” Through interviews with Chelli, family members, and important people in the fashion industry and in her business, we hear how she got to where she is today.
Our documentary is called Dawn Dusk because of the darkness Chelli went through and the light that she found through forgiveness. Her current collection is called Dawn Dusk because all of her bags are named after different kinds of light like glare or aura. Chelli is fascinated by light and often watches the sunrise and sunset to find inspiration. That is why one of the culminating moment of the documentary will be the “symphony of bags & light.” It is at this moment where everything will tie together - the bags we’ve been seeing Chelli create are paired with the light they were inspired by. We hope this moment of light is deeply moving for the audience after hearing about the darkness Chelli came out of. It really is a “phoenix rising from the ashes” moment.
This past November, we filmed with Chelli at the tail end of a three month leather apprenticeship in Florence, Italy where she was refreshing her skills and thinking about what is next for her business. We see this as a visually-beautiful, compelling potential ending to the film as we leave the viewer wondering what’s next for Chelli and her art.
We’ve been fortunate to have complete access to Chelli & her life. She, amazingly, is in this for the long run with us. We’ve been extremely transparent with her and she has been completely open with us. Other than a minor couple tweaks to wording, she has never wanted to change the way we’re telling her story. We’ve also been blessed to get to know her family and they have reflected the same openness with us. We are honored to tell Chelli’s story and Megan’s legacy.
We have begun to weave this beautiful and captivating story of Chelli & CHC. Chelli is compelling and captivating on camera. Her story and they way she embodies strength and wisdom is inspiring. We’ve been so moved by her and can’t wait to share her story.
More about this film at dawnduskfilm.com