We first noticed you because of your Diesel Teleportation spot. Hilarious. From hand-held, fast cuts on Diesel, and filmic gritty work for Kid Cudi’s Mr Rager, your latest work for Surface to Air is locked-off, beautifully framed, languid shots. What was the process involved in arriving at these styles.
You wanna know something? Every now and then say, “What the fuck”. “What the fuck” gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future. Sorry. I have always wanted to say that to someone and I felt it was the right time. But probably not. Anyways, to go back to our subject. In this one, we aimed to present a women’s summer collection in the Surface to Air way. Just to propose another kind of sexyness than what we see all around us in media: lazyness. I find that nonchalance and insouciance are two very seducing components of feminity. We wanted to feel the summer everywhere in this film: too hot to do anything else than read, burn, swim, drink and ….
How did you achieve the lazy pacing in Surface to Air – what speed did you use to shoot or did you use post to slow the film?
I think composing strong frames and letting the people live inside them is what creates the nonchalant vibe of the film. Regarding the movement I simply shot at 50is (Alexa).
Did you storyboard the entire narrative?
Yes, every shot was written as you see them. (Except one: see following answer).
Any magic moments when something unexpected happened that you incorporated into the film?
Oh yes many. I can remember one: my art director Jean Michel Bertin swam out from the pool crawling to get out of the frame. I shot it and this is the shot you see.
Was there a lot of footage you didn’t use?
Not really, I think only one indoor shot was trashed. Otherwise, we used all the shots we shot (we shot two or three takes of each).
Where does your eye for framing come from? Do you have a stills photography background?
I love photography and graphically composed frames but this particular project is a tribute to a hyper realistic painter that I love: Gérard Schlosser. He is a friend of my uncle Bruno Schmeltz who is also a hyper realistic painter. My uncle and my aunt had one of Schlosser’s giant paintings above their beds (a close up of a female body part). Since we were kids, Martial (my cousin and DP) and I have always been fascinated by it.
At what point in the process did you decide on the Cass McComb track?
I was imagining something epic, soft and romantic. Originally I liked Le Monde Est Fou from French composer François de Roubaix. But it felt too stereotypical of the 60s on the French Riviera with the images.
Regarding the process, the whole shoot was great: South of France, heat, listening to music. My art director played this track during a late chess game under the pine trees. Maybe I had too much Bourgogne to think straight but when I heard it I was like: “This is the one, there’s no turning back”.
What drew you to using this dp on Jeanne?
Considering the model had to spend most of the shoot half naked, I wanted her to feel cool and have a family atmosphere around her (so I tried to avoid the ex-convicts team I usually pick). The dp is my cousin Martial so I knew he would behave, and the fact that he also put himself at risk in front of the camera made her feel comfortable.
They are the techie questions. But rummaging through Google we see that you created the brand Surface to Air – clothes, stores, films. How did the clothes brand come about and how did your film background lead you to this cross-discipline creativity, or vice versa?
I have big ADD so I needed to create a system to do whatever I want whenever I want it: this is Surface To Air. I have just been super lucky to meet great people who share the vision about freedom and creativity. They make it a long-lasting dream and a great company. Nevertheless, film is my life. I have been watching two movies a day for 20 years and now I am in pre-production on the first feature film that I wrote. So it seems that I keep on being lucky.