27th November 2013
Softly moves the light
Title of film: Ghostpoet, Cold Win
Director: Cyrille de Vignemont
Artist, photographer and director Cyrille de Vignemont, whose video Cold Win for Ghostpoet has just scooped up the cinematography award at Camerimage, talks to 1.4 about capturing the perfect light. See his work in related content

Your lighting is a key characteristic in your films – a tableaux of shadows, panning shots of changing light, watery reflections, textures of the night – how much do you prepare from the point of view of lighting before the shoot?

My obsession with light has driven my emotions since my childhood: the shadow of a eucalyptus tree quivering in the wind, the way the rays of sunshine light up the nape of a neck, diffract on a curtain, between the diffuse and the solid…
All these images, these feelings, are an obsession to me. That’s where I come from. So I know what I’m searching for, it’s intimate, and I love to spend time on how to get it.

Are you always chasing the dawn and dusk?

Yes, I often wake up a few minutes before dawn or I wait for the sunrise to get sleep. Not exclusively for the light though, I’m also fascinated by the dividing lines, when we cross them… Like dawn and dusk, the passage from childhood to teenage years, the beginning of the spring, falling in love, transitory and lively places suddenly deserted, such as empty highways or airports…

Did your photography work inform your films – or is it a completely different creative process for you?

It’s getting closer and closer. For example, my music-video for Mohini Geisweiller was close to some of my photographic work, even the strange breathing creature came from two of my art series.

The commercial I did for Converse about a teenager trying to bring his old electronic toy back to life, to find the soul of his robot, was also in a way inspired by another personal project.

But I want my films to be more narrative now, to tell stories in a more simple way.

I will spend more time directing this year. I really enjoy creating something collectively when I direct a film, to be a part of a team, with a band on a music video, or an agency on a commercial, my producers, the DoP, all the people on the set…

Did you begin your career as a photographer or have you always been making films?

I began photography ten years or so ago. At first I used to take pictures of different faces, roads, house windows, and I stored films but did not dare to process them.
It went on like this for almost two years. I just kept those hundreds of films in a big Adidas sports bag, and I liked this impression of having captured what deeply touched me, without knowing it for sure. Or I was just scared.

Finally one day I took them to a local lab: most of the images were totally overexposed, but a few of them conveyed the emotion I had felt and it was an amazing experience to discover them.

My pictures were soon exhibited, in France and abroad, in contemporary art shows, galleries and museums… I was particularly supported by the artistic directors of Paris Palais de Tokyo, who commissioned my first artistic film, shot on 35mm, a real leap into the unknown.

There’s a languid intermingling between the human form and nature (and some pretty cool architecture too) which is made even more sensuous through the colour palettes you use. How would you describe the core of your creative expression?

I’m trying to create sensorial narratives to explore the ambiguous spaces that exist between animals and humans, youth and nostalgia, summer sunsets and vanishing lights, biology and technology…

For three years now, I have been recreating my childhood, the sensations, the places, the people… it’s my main art project: the end of holidays, my best friend running on a hill, a night procession, a girl smiling, a year spent in the countryside far away from my family…

But also my dreams about strange creatures living around a lake, the simple act of breathing, the wind in the trees…
I would like to make memories so vivid you could touch them.

Where have your favourite locations been to work in – and where is that stunning road trip in Ghostpoet’s Cold Win?

We were in Iceland, in June. I loved those two days, we were four in a car, and we became friends, driving all night through this ethereal landscape. But my favorite place is still rural America, which is completely fascinating for me.

Contemporary art, music videos, fashion, advertising – where does your heart lie?

I have this trick: I hold onto my breath underwater, as long as I can, until I feel I’m about to pass out, with the sounds muffled, the diffracted sun above my head. Things then seem dazzling when you come out of the sea to breathe and you exactly know who you are. I should do it again to be able to choose, but I don’t know how many neurons I lose each time I use this method.