C

C

2014

Best Culinary Program

NOMINEE

2009

Best Culinary Program

NOMINEE

2009

Best Single-Camera Editing

WINNER

2008

Best Single-Camera Editing

NOMINEE

2008

Best Lifestyle Program

NOMINEE

DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS

2009

Best Limited Series

WINNER

INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY ASSOCIATION (IDA)

2021

Best Short

NOMINEE

2020

Best Documentary

WINNER

NYC WEB FEST

2008

Best Editing/Doc Series

WINNER

NEW YORK FESTIVALS

2016

Golden Eagle

RUNNER-UP

2009

Golden Eagle

WINNER

CINE GOLDEN EAGLE

2019

Best Food/Travel Series

WINNER

2018

Best Food/Travel Series

WINNER

2017

Best Food/Travel Series

WINNER

2016

Best Food/Travel Series

WINNER

2015

Best Food/Travel Series

WINNER

2014

Breakout Storyteller of the Year

Rob Tate

2014

Best Food/Travel Series

WINNER

TASTE AWARDS

Awards

Fashion Doc Eleven Minutes Dresses Down Reality

NATASHA VARGAS-COOPER

OUR GRADE: A -

In a Hurry: A superbly crafted, bargain-budget documentary that profiles a fascinating underdog— Project Runway's season-one winner, Jay McCarroll— and skillfully explores the troubled territory between reality TV and reality.

The Bigger Picture: You don't have to watch a single moment of Project Runway to know that McCarroll's story is something special. In an effort to disrobe his "reality-TV entertainer" reputation and claim the mantle of legitimate designer, Jay secured a runway, a hanger tent, and 11 minutes on the last day of Fashion Week to showcase 30 different outfits to the merciless style elites of New York City.

The stakes are rightfully high. If the incredulous tastemakers smile upon Jay, he could be rewarded with huge contracts from major retailers. If they turn up their perfectly sculpted noses at his collection, then Jay will be considered a has-been—or worse, a never-was.

It's difficult to sympathize with the ego and affectations of a fashion designer, especially one who was introduced to style neophytes through a reality show. Yet Jay's laborious struggle to put together his first fashion show is irresistible. Not only do you care about Jay, you are avidly rooting for him as he haggles with publicists, Chinese sweatshop barons and a squadron of unpaid—and at times mutinous—seamstresses.

Reality-style, the cameras never click off. So the film crew captures Jay in all the grubby conversations every artist secretly dreads and simultaneously aches to be a part of: Who sits where at the show, which model is hot and which is a hag and most pressing, will Lindsay Lohan actually show up?!

But unlike a typical schadenfreude-inducing TV contest, you want Jay to succeed. Badly. He is relentlessly endearing. Whenever you are ready to dismiss him as an insufferable art brat, he says something so utterly self-aware, so filled with good intentions that your defenses are shot. In the end, all you want is for the ruthless fashion world to embrace this affable ball of desire and grit.

Imagine an episode of Project Runway without the manufactured drama, the shameless product placements, and Heidi Klum's blind stab at acting. It is possible, dear reader! Eleven Minutes, Michael Selditch and Robert Tate's documentary follows Jay McCarroll, the show's first winner, during the months leading up to his debut fashion show. What results is a raw and entertaining look at the underbelly of the fashion industry and what it truly takes to be a successful designer.

Winning a reality competition like Project Runway is great. You get a car, some cash, and the title of "next great American designer" mandated by the Bravo channel. Young teenage girls, not to mention gaggles of gays, idolize you. And your likeness is immortalized in continuous marathons that will run until the end of time. What could be better? Well, judging from Eleven Minutes, a whole lot.

For starters, despite beating out thousands of applicants to take the title of a wildly popular show, McCarroll is at best a meager D-list somebody. When discussing the possible celebrities that might attend his show, one of his publicists name-drops Lindsay Lohan as if she were the Dalai Lama. Of course, Lindsay doesn't make it, too busy crashing cars and blogging about her why-the-hell-not lesbianism. But, wait, the publicist says, JC Chasez is coming! You know, the guy who stood somewhere behind Justin Timberlake in the '90s. No, not the gay one. Oh, forget it. But he's coming! Oh, wait, nevermind, he backed out. That burns.

On top of being dissed by former boy band members, McCarroll struggles against his shelf life, which gets shorter as Project Runway produces season after season featuring even more audacious characters. There's also the issue of overcoming the stigma of being just an over-the-top reality show personality and earning respect as a legitimate designer.

Shows like Project Runway lead viewers to believe that all there is to becoming the next big thing in fashion is a knack for design and sewing. This documentary does away with that polished concept of designers and captures the less glamorous business end of the industry. Who will finance the line, manufacture, distribute, merchandise, and advertise it? The filmmakers follow McCarroll as he tries to sort out the above while coordinating the myriad behind-the-scenes elements behind the eleven minutes of his fashion show: factories in New York and China, jewelry, wig, and shoemakers, and, worst of all, dreadful publicists.

The latter is where all the ills of the fashion world congeal in the form of the documentary's villain. Kelly Cutrone, who is best known for making blonde girls cry on The Hills, hams it up for yet another camera crew, torturing subordinates and making life for Jay harder than it has to be. "I don't like those atoms surrounding the hot-air balloon," she complains about a flyer, "what about stars?" Jay appears disgusted at the suggestion, as if saying, "And this woman is supposed to know about taste?" He later rants that she initially brushed him off until she witnessed the amount of photo-lenses flashing in his direction, and promptly changed her tune. When juxtaposed with characters like Cutrone, it seems as though Jay would be better off without the fashion industry, which seems to inflate egos and give birth to lurching sartorial critics that feast on the blood of baby lambs and virgins.

McCarroll ends the documentary declaring that he might just scrap it all, move to Maine, work at an ice cream parlor and make quilts. Which leads to the question: is fame worth all of the overblown egos, all the critics, all the back-stabbing trouble? The answer depends on which part of you answers, the rational mind would confess that there are bigger things in life than being respected by bitchy fashionistas, but then that troublesome ambition crops up and professes that yes, it is worth the long hours, the anxiety and tears that come with realizing a dream. Only time will tell which half of Jay McCarroll is loudest, but, despite the obvious allure of quilt making, I have a feeling that we haven't heard the last of him.

Eleven Minutes

(Documentary)

by RONNIE SCHEIB

A skillfully crafted, highly entertaining docu about process, personality and perception, "Eleven Minutes" revolves around the charismatic Jay McCarroll, the first "Project Runway" winner, in his real-world bid for fashion fame and fortune. McCarroll's media renown has put enormous pressure on him to prove himself more than a boob-tube phenom, particularly in an industry known for its whimsical cruelty. With little money, endless expenditures, no business experience and a lot of talented best buds, McCarroll manages to cobble together a collection for his moment in the spotlight. A working man's "Unzipped," this hugely diverting docu struts strong niche appeal.

Shambling, teddy-bearish McCarroll, like some gay Michael Moore, invites the documentary crew -- and, by extension, the viewer -- to bear witness to his production process and all the contradictions implicit in turning out high fashion on a low budget. McCarroll and his minions scour Canal Street and the Lower East Side for cheap materials, meeting with grommet makers and silkscreen artists to turn his drawings into garments.

No prima donna, McCarroll insists on chronicling the meticulous handiwork of his unpaid colleagues as they concoct jewelry, shoes and wigs to accompany his designs. McCarroll retains his sense of humor as numerous actual and potential disasters parade by, from the vagaries of outsourced Chinese manufacturing to torrential rains on D-day.

Curiously, it's when the pic turns its attention to the PR firm working on McCarroll's show, perversely dubbed "People's Revolution," that the contradictions between art and industry, innovation and conformity play out most vividly. McCarroll has already compromised his vision for this first show, highlighting none of the overweight models, women with atrophied limbs or albinos he might prefer. Thus, the suggestions of the PR people, based on years of industry work and codification of the way things "should be" done, prove particularly unwelcome.

Much of the conflict stems from McCarroll's seat-of-his-pants operation (born, one feels, as much from inclination as from necessity), which relies on the kindness of friends, as opposed to the industry's dependence on "in" brands.

And everywhere, increasingly, the press congregates. Thrust into the fashion limelight with no schooling or experience, given prominence by a "vulgar" medium and financed by the Humane Society, McCarroll hovers dangerously between darling and buffoon. He alternately describes his collection as being inspired by a '60s London architectural group, vaginal discharge or hot-air balloons, providing few recognizable hooks for the trendy fashion press.

But this hardly matters to helmers Michael Selditch and Rob Tate, who, having collared McCarroll for an hourlong puff piece on Bravo, welcome the opportunity to film a let-it- all-hang-out expose. Beautifully paced and edited pic, building majestically over an eight-month period to a state of chaotic hysteria where Murphy's Law reigns supreme, celebrates a triumphant fiasco.

Tech credits are superlative. Lensing creates links between fabrics and dazzling hot-air balloon silks, while the quasi-classical score nicely ratchets up the suspense.

ELEVEN MINUTES

Tension in NY's fashion world

KEVIN THOMAS

The title of Michael Selditch and Rob
Tate's lively and suspenseful "Eleven
Minutes" refers to the time allotted aspiring designer Jay McCarroll to show his first line of clothing at New York's Fashion Week in Bryant Park. McCarroll was heralded in 2004 as "the next great American designer" when he won that season's "Project Runway" reality show. But it wasn't until 2006 that he was able to mount his first collection.

Between February and September, it is a flurry of nonstop activity, constant decision-making, a tug of war between McCarroll, a talented novice with a vision, and his experienced, dedicated publicist, Nancy Kane. The filmmakers cram their slice of the fashion world with no detail overlooked, and in doing so they capture that brisk, intoxicating New York atmosphere of smart, no-nonsense professionalism.

As the show draws nearer, the tension increases. McCarroll is a strong personality but a vulnerable man, admitting to bouts of angry insecurity, loving fashion and the creation of it, but aware both of its financial realities and its absurdities. For his first collection, he takes inspiration from architectural fantasies, creating clothes that are simple and beautiful but that are vibrant with color and distinctive motifs. By the time of his debut, the campy, witty McCarroll has us rooting for him.

Portrait-Cum-Procedural Eleven Minutes Profiles

Project Runway's Jay McCarrol

By Aaron Hillis

Two years after winning the first of Project Runway, flamboyantly charismatic fashion designer Jay McCarroll still hadn't launched his first clothing line, the pressure of being internationally famous for being famous playing hell on his nerves and insecurities.

Beginning production then, doc filmmakers Michael Selditch and Rob Tate's charming and unexpectedly perceptive portrait-cum-procedural proves the DIY-authentic corrective to Unzipped, a warts-and-all chronicle of McCarroll's year-long preparation for his inaugural show at New York Fashion Week. Hardly a glamorous daily existence, McCarroll—a stressed- out but good-humored teddy bear whose naked sensitivities balance his ego—scours Chinatown for cheap material, milks as much as he can out of hemorrhaging budgets and unpaid employees, attempts to micro-manage when outsourced work gets botched, and squabbles with his publicist over creative compromises. What truly elevates it all is how the directors (deliberately appearing on-screen at times) subtly address our perceptions of filmed "reality," from their even-handed vérité here to the more grossly manufactured confines of reality TV, a medium McCarroll is quick to call "vulgar." Like Soderbergh's two-part Che—yes, I'm making this comparison—Eleven Minutes is less about its subject and more about formalist processes (both McCarroll and the filmmakers'), and shouldn't exist as a stand- alone without viewers having experienced its other half, Project Runway.

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