Behind the Lens with Dear Films

Originally from the United States, Kassia Karr and Grant Davis first came to India as college students - he to take a summer Hindi course, and she to spend a year in Tamil Nadu. Over the next decade their relationship with Indian culture, language, and arts deepened. Grant returned often, spending long periods of time in Lucknow and Hyderabad learning Hindi and Urdu. In 2011, he joined a team of filmmakers, to work on Tomorrow We Disappear - a documentary on the residents of the Kathputli Colony in New Delhi that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014. Kassia studied Indian culture extensively, before moving to Delhi in 2010. She worked at design research studio Quicksand, as a strategic planner at Wieden+Kennedy, and then as the brand manager for bhane.

Dear Films was born in January 2014, out of Kassia and Grant’s mutual interests in filmmaking, photography, travel, and ethnography. We recently caught up with them, to discuss their work, their travel, and powder blue leisure suits.
What are your favourite places in India? Where are you dying to visit?
Grant: I really like Jodhpur. Also Ladakh and Hyderabad are two places I'd always go back to. Right now I'd really like to explore more of Kolkata.
Kassia: Ladakh, Sikkim, the Rann of Kutch, Madurai and Shantiniketan have been some of my favorites. I want to get to Hampi and see more of the Northeast.

What current projects are you working on?
Grant: We are finishing up some films we shot for Blue Tokai. We spent a few days at some of the estates where they source their coffee, shooting the harvesting and processing. We are also starting a documentary project in Tamil Nadu.

Of the projects you have done, what are your personal favourites?
Grant: Back in December we shot a film in Madurai which was really fun. A lot of the auto rickshaws there have Mickey Mouse's face painted on them. We spent a few days going around speaking to auto drivers and one really popular artist, trying to see what the story was behind the Mickey, and made it into a short film (see that here.)
Kassia: I really like the films we recently did for you guys (see those here, here, and here!)Tell us about your personal style?
Grant: It's all about shirts. I always wear black jeans and focus more on the top half, usually seeing what crazy prints I can find in Nehru Place, and turn those into shirts.
Kassia: I go for unusual basics, things which are understated and wearable but still eye-catching. With my accessories I keep it minimal but striking - I like good quality leather shoes in simple silhouettes, and big necklaces.

Who are your design influences, if any, and whose wardrobe would you love to have?
Grant: I've really been inspired lately down south, seeing some funky 80s/90s print shirts guys are wearing. We've been in Madurai a lot lately and you see some amazing prints there. That's the kind of stuff that really catches my eye.
Kassia: My favorite fashion designers right now include Jesse Kamm, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Shania Mote, Desiree Klein, and Momoko Suzuki. Their clothes are exquisitely designed while also being very everyday-wearable. There are a couple girls I follow on Instagram - Britt Campagna, Elise Joseph, and Jen Szeto amongst others - whose wardrobes I'd love to have.

Has being in India influenced your style?
Grant: For sure. The biggest influence has probably been the accessibility of making clothes and turning my ideas into actual pieces. That's been a great creative outlet.
Kassia: I would agree, I think being more hands-on in creating and compiling pieces in my wardrobe has led my style in a distinct direction. Being in India has also made me more conscientious about consumption habits and led to me being more thoughtful with my buying choices.

What are the 3 favourite pieces in your wardrobe?
Grant: A Naga vest I got last winter, a really cool NorBlackNorWhite jacket Kassia gave me, and whatever latest shirt I've had made (right now that's one I had made on our recent trip to Madurai).
Kassia: My Crescioni leather necklace, Illesteva sunglasses which I've worn to bits, and an Osei Duro dress with a beautiful block print made in Ghana.

Best fashion/ style advice you've ever received?
Grant: Kassia actually recommended a good tailor to go to in Madurai. When I went there for the first time 3 year back I had some shirts made. Since then I've had at least 40 shirts made, so that bit of advice got me inspired, you could say.
Kassia: Groom your eyebrows. When my friend introduced me to brow powder years ago, my world changed.

Worst fashion moment?
Grant: As a teenager I wore lots of disco shirts and bellbottoms. I also had a really great powder blue leisure suit I found at a thrift store in Texas. The worst moment was when one day it went missing. Someone at home maybe got rid of it secretly.
Kassia: It's so embarrassing but I had an emo phase for a hot second, black hair and all.

Kassia and Grant choose their favourites pieces from the Nico closet here.

You can view view Kassia and Grant’s work on their website, and follow them on Instagram.