What have you done to keep yourself entertained while staying at home? If the answer is not “filmed an incredibly detailed TikTok homage to Wes Anderson using a collection of twee items I just happened to have laying around” then, honestly, great. You can read this interview with one Madelaine Turner who, well, filmed an incredibly detailed TikTok homage to Wes Anderson using a collection of twee items she just happened to have laying around. Really. Even the working typewriter, which she says she bought at an estate sale and didn’t even know actually worked until she went to film the video and it magically still had ink. Which, honestly, stumbling into exactly the right thing you need to work — in a perfect shade of pale blue, no less — feels very apropos of an Anderson character.
Hi, Madelaine. What have you been up to lately? Though I think I know the answer.
Before the last two days, I was just hanging out and making stuff and just being creative in whatever way I possibly could. I work as an admin assistant at a construction company. It’s a family-owned business, very mellow. Recently I’ve been like, delving into the intensely creative sphere.
How old are you?
I’m 26. My joke is always that I’m way too old for TikTok. I downloaded it because I have two younger siblings who are 15 and 17. They were on it and I thought, might as well.
Safe to assume you’re a big Wes Anderson fan?
Absolutely. Oh my gosh. I think for lots of young creative sorts dipping their toes into like the film world Wes Anderson is just so delightful. He’s like candy. It’s such a striking thing to behold. The first time you see one of his movies, it’s like you’ve never seen anything like it before. He was definitely my first film love.
Which one of his films did you see first?
It was The Royal Tenenbaums. I had seen stills leading up to it and then I watched it in an English class. Oh my gosh. This is amazing. What is this?
So the TikTok … let’s dive in.
As a kid, I was always writing stories and doing silly things, but never attempting anything in any professional capacity that wasn’t underneath the umbrella of someone I was working for. I was really not anticipating the reaction. I was excited when it hit like 33,000 views on TikTok. This is it. I’ve made it. This is the best day of my life.
Talk to me about the moment you decided to make it.
A few TikToks ago I made one very loving riffing on BBC period-piece dramas. Which I so intensely love. That’s all I ever want to watch. People being tense and serious and walking through hallways and blowing out candles. In the comments, there was a little war that happened with some people saying, “This is like Wes Anderson meets Jane Austen.” And then other people saying, “This is nothing like Wes Anderson.”
Did you agree?
I thought, Yeah, you’re right this is nothing like Wes Anderson … but. I initially thought I could do a parody of Sex and the City done by Wes Anderson. I had already done a little Sex and the City quarantine spoof. But as I was thinking through the concept I didn’t think I had enough in my apartment to accomplish it. Maybe that will come later. I worked a half day, so I clocked out and I walked around my apartment and gathered little knickknacks and put them on a table and started sorting them to see if there was any sort of story.
What was the first piece of the story?
The portrait of the parrot, Aretmis. He was in another TikTok that I made a month ago. That’s one of my favorites. It’s so weird and silly and it’s just everything that I love and I want to make … that portrait was kind of a star of that TikTok. I thought, Wouldn’t it be really cute if anyone who liked that earlier TikTok saw this one. Hiding little things I used in other TikToks in this one. My own little cinematic universe.
I do have some questions about the items themselves. You own gloves?I’m such a sucker for little little trinkets and treasures. I always have been. I’ve always been like a little collector. I’ll go into an antique store and just like wander through and almost be magnetically pulled towards something. I can’t explain why I want this thing. It could be like a brass conch shell or like a random typewriter or like a jewelry box with a face on it. And I have to have it. I found the gloves and I was just like, I don’t know what I’m gonna do with these but I have to have them or I’ll die.
On a similar note … you own a working typewriter?
I didn’t know the typewriter worked until I did the video. I thought I was gonna just use it as like a fake prop. And then I started typing and I was like, “The ink! It still works!” I found it at an estate sale maybe four or five years ago. It’s been sitting in my closet for a really long time.
Was the dress a Margot Tenenbaum costume?
I was at a Goodwill and I was just going through dresses and I saw this one and I couldn’t believe. The little circle zipper. I’m obsessed. I have to have this. I’ve worn it a couple times, but it really it’s not something I wear super frequently. When I was when I was kind of grabbing things in my apartment and like getting the outfit together I thought it would be perfect.
I’m very impressed you didn’t have to leave your apartment for anything. How did you shoot the video?
I have a little tripod that’s got a phone attachment. The overhead shots are the hardest part and a lot were shot from really far away and then cropped in post-production. So it was sort of like resting on like a light that wasn’t turned on so the phone wouldn’t fall. Anytime I’m shooting myself, I have to use the front-facing camera. The way that my tripod is set up because it’s kind of cheap and terrible, I couldn’t really see my phone screen while I was shooting the overhead shot, so I just kind of had to pray and hope everything was centered.
Very important if you’re doing Anderson. Did you brainstorm other ideas for the letter to your mother you type up?
I wrote it as I was shooting it. I thought, What would someone even say in a Wes Anderson to their mother during quarantine. What am I even saying to my own mother when she checks in with me during quarantine. “I am.” That’s all.
What did post-production involve?
For the color grading I used a VSCO cam, which has great presets for video. I was able to make sure everything was along the same lighting. I threw the action shots into an app called InShot, which I use for anything I’m not editing in TikTok. For the font, I needed to be a little more exact, so I threw the project into Final Cut Pro. Very Frankenstein.
Did you reshoot anything?
I initially had the paper airplane on a string, but it looked stupid so I just ended up using my finger.
Do you have plans for a sequel?
I have an idea that’s percolating in my mind. I’ve had a couple of people say I should do other director’s style. Which would be fun, but I think it’s easier to do Wes Anderson in the comfort of your own home. So much of his stuff is so textured and very visceral. It feels like a lot of his films are shot in a small home, whereas other directors are larger and more expansive so that might be difficult to capture.
What do you think Wes would think of your TikTok?
I have no idea. He’s so mysterious. I hope he would know it was done with the most immense amount of love. I don’t think you can make a parody like this if you don’t love the thing you’re making fun of. It wasn’t even making fun of it, it was mostly let me emulate this filmmaker for the sake of attention on the internet.