San Francisco-based filmmaker and photographer Britt Caillouette is on a constant quest to capture moments of raw, honest beauty. Whether he’s journeying to Peru on assignment for Alternative or jetting off to Japan to document snowboarding, his ability to convey a sense of cinema to his subject matter and a unique approach to storytelling have led him to work with some of the world’s top brands like Nike, Levi’s and Intel. We were fortunate to partner with Britt for our Made in Peru series and between the process of reviewing footage, editing and releasing final cuts, we paused for a moment to get inside the mind of our talented director.
A student of art history with a passion for photojournalism, Britt’s first foray into filmmaking was no small feat—he directed his first documentary feature “Sliding Liberia” in war-torn West Africa while studying as an undergraduate at Stanford University. After the experience, which garnered the attention and awards of several major film festivals, “I was hooked,” Britt says plainly. It was from this point that he embarked on a career that parlayed his love for travel with his skill for translating narratives through visuals that present a real yet cinematic view of life.
“For me, it’s about the visuals before anything,” says Britt when asked about the key components of good storytelling. “I’m always trying to bring a feeling of high-level cinematic portraiture into my work, so I’m looking for images that are inherently strong enough to tell stories on their own.” Citing photojournalism heavyweights such as Sebastião Salgado and the late Tim Heatherington and American documentary photographers like Alec Soth and Mike Brodie as inspiration, Britt gravitates towards those who are able to create beautiful images filled with raw emotion. “I am constantly inspired and amazed by the works of photojournalists. To be able to capture a moment from a fleeting and often times difficult situation and compose it in such a way that makes an impact on the viewer…it’s really unlike any other art form.”
A self-described music fiend, Britt also emphasizes the important role sound and music selection play in shaping a story. “Everything has to work together to be able to break through and make an emotional connection. Sound and music are key; they’re a critical part of elevating the story of a film.”
When Alternative traveled to Peru to deepen its relationship with the land and people that bring us the finest cotton in the world, we welcomed Britt along to document it all. “Peru was an idea trip in so many ways,” reflects Britt. “Nothing was scripted and we had to keep ourselves open to what we found. It was basically like a road trip where we just kept filming everything as it truly was. It was a journey of discovery that I’ll never forget.”
Peru’s unparalleled beauty, the kindness of its people and the special connection they have with the land helped to inform the direction of the Made in Peru series. “I wanted to show the beauty, depth and power in what is being done there, and help to remove the divide between the finished good and the process.”
Britt’s work has been an important tool for being able to tell Alternative’s story and that of the people behind our products. From the Alpaca farmers in Pacomarca to the farmers and workers involved in cotton production, our Made in Peru series is a reflection of partnership in practice through Britt’s aesthetic lens and unique point of view. Our latest videos unveil the people and process behind our 100% Organic Pima Cotton and Natural Dye Ecotintes Collection and does so in Britt’s signature documentary style.
Be sure to view our Made in Peru section to see all the films in the series directed by Britt Caillouette.
Written by Rachel Maniago
Photos by Britton Caillouette