Director Biography – Noah Sheldon (TAOBAO)

Noah is a filmmaker, photographer and artist based in Shanghai and New York City. Noah started his career as a photographer and brings a strong eye for clean and compelling composition and natural story telling to his films. He favors an observational approach to capturing subjects; authenticity is a hallmark of his work.

Noah’s work has seen him included in numerous exhibitions across the world, including MOMA PS1, ICA, D’amelio Terras, and has seen him collaborate with some of the 21st century’s biggest modern brands, including Apple, Nike, Louis Vuitton. His debut documentary STYROFOAM was featured at AFI Docs 2017.

Director Statement

Taboo Model is part of a short doc series about different jobs that are often unique to China. The project tells the personal stories of people working in jobs that are not often known about or visible to the public. Video clips of Pin’er the Taobao model first started going viral in 2015. I knew immediately I wanted to make a film about her. Most modeling jobs usually involve a lot of sitting around, waiting and not so much time in front of the camera. Taobao modeling is an entirely different beast- it’s purely a numbers game and the models have the prerogative to cram as much work into their day as they like.

Upon meeting her and hearing her story, I was most struck by the ephemeral nature of the industry. Everything is incredibly short lived, from the life-span of the models’ careers to how quickly the fast fashion pieces will be replaced in people’s wardrobes. There’s a quiet sense of urgency behind the work, everybody is trying to capitalize on a moment, aware that things change very quickly and abruptly. The feeling of transience was infectious and I wanted to capture the the fleeting nature of this work before she disappeared from the Taobao modeling industry.

The mood of the story is set by Pin’er’s style of modeling, poses timed to the clicks of the camera. It’s hypnotic to watch. Nick Zinner’s soundtrack quietly amplifies her repetitive and trance like performance.

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