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5th February 2014
Hot hot hot
Title of film: Wonderbra 'Mermaid'
Director: Charlotte Rabate
Spotlight falls on the multi-talented, multi-national new director Charlotte Rabate. Press Related content button to see more work

From winning at the Porsche Awards and the AICP Award with your fun-filled clever Durex spec spot you’ve now created two more spots – for Wonderbra and Odiseo magazine- that show you’ve got a very distinctive visual voice. Each spot is very different – what were the main challenges of making the films and what were your creative solutions?

As always, the main challenge is budget. I like to find interesting and cinematic places to shoot at, hoping that the location will also play a part in the story, but sometimes it comes at a price… Even a beach which is public is not free in NYC. For Wonderbra, I sacrificed most of the budget on location as I immediately fell for this industrialized place next to an old aviation field. It was full of trash and run down trees. It was different from the usual beaches you see in ads and I thought it went well with the concept of a washed up mermaid.

Another challenge from that shoot was the weather – asking a model to roll around in wet sand on a windy beach, end of winter. However, Lindsay was amazing to work with and never once complained.

For Odiseo, again, we had little money so we had to shoot in a friend’s apartment in the heart of hipsterville Williamsburg. We were lucky that they had good taste and ideas would come as we were shooting, as we would find random objects lying around.

The spot for Odiseo is very sensuous. Please tell us about the collaboration with Pensacola – weren’t they fellow students of your’s at Tisch? Most grown men would weep to have this kind of project, how did it come about?

Pensacola are crazy! Crazy good and friends of mine from Tisch. They are a very talented duo from Barcelona (and now based in NY), Odiseo is a gentleman’s magazine, from Barcelona too. Pensacola created the concept of the girl waiting for someone or something, with many images as references. They couldn’t finish it because of another project. So Vladimir de Fontenay (who co-directed with me) and I then collaborated with them and added our own images to the story. It was a lot of fun because we could play with anything. You can do so many things with a naked girl.

That sounds wrong but what I mean is everyone sees the naked body differently. I think that’s one of the reasons why they chose two directors with opposite genders.

What I find sexy is not necessarily always relevant for the male perspective. I was editing a fashion video with one of the Pensacola boys a year ago and it was funny because some parts of the body I would find beautiful (i.e. collar bone, hip), and he would value other parts, and vice versa. So I guess this video can hopefully appeal to both men and women.

My personal inspiration for this video was photographer Lina Scheynius, who coincidentally took pictures for the magazine in the past. Scheynius is extremely good at capturing intimacy and the nude with natural light. And yes, most men would weep for this kind of project. When my brothers saw the video, they were wondering if they were in the wrong industry.

What sort of work would you like to pursue?

I just finished my MFA in Filmmaking at Tisch and now definitely want to work in commercials, fashion videos and music videos. Anything with a quirky style and fun energy. In the long term, I would like to do feature films too.

You’re French? Or multi-national?

I’m a strange one with a split identity. I was born in Paris with French parents, but went to London at one week old, where I spent all my childhood. I went to a French school there hence the accent, and did my undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics. I wanted to do a Master’s in a subject I was passionate about, different from business or economics and chose film. I had always dreamt of spending time in the US, especially New York, so NYU was a natural choice.

When did you realise you wanted to become a film maker?

Good question. I think it all started with storytelling. I was at home a month ago and found these really weird short stories I wrote as a child, about lonely kings having affairs with their golf teachers who wanted them to lose weight – anyway, I liked writing a lot and then it gradually became about the visuals. When I read a book, I think about the image and how it would look as a film. When I was an undergraduate student, I got involved with the filmmaking society and made my first short. From then on, I loved the whole process. I loved the idea of making ideas concrete.

Are you looking to be signed with a production company?

Yes definitely, I can’t wait to work on exciting projects.

Do you have people you collaborate/work with on a regular basis?

I think it’s important to know who you work well with and to keep the relationship ongoing if it’s beneficial to the result. I often work with the same DoP, Chananun Chotrungroj (one of the DoPs on Odiseo) and we created together a collective with another friend Lola Vi, called Tiger Power. In this collective, we gather directors, directors of photography, stylists, photographers and graphic designers, that we find are talented and work together as a team.

Charlotte Rabate

Wonderbra, Mermaid   Written and directed by Charlotte Rabate Director of Photography: Joshua James Richards Producer: Assal Ghawami Costume designer: Mira Veikley Assistant Director: Marie Constantinesco UPM: Joseph Eulo 1st AC: Mia Coffy Henry 2nd AC: Laura Moss DIT: Nikita Liamzine Steadicam operator: Kyle Fasanella Gaffer: Ben Rutkowski Best boy: Zach Schamberg Grips: Sophie Finkelstein HMU: Ciara Rose Griffin Assistant to L.Frimodt: Abu Shawky Editor: Charlotte Rabate After effects: Aina Rosell Song: "Je t' non plus" by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin Odiseo Directors: Charlotte Rabate and Vladimir de Fontenay Directors of Photography: Chananun Chotrungroj and Bruce Thierry Cheung Original idea by Pensacola Production designer: Evan Saarinen HMU: Atsuko Shimizu Durex Written and Directed by Charlotte Rabate Director of Photography: Thrinnanon Samrej Produced by: Chananun Chotrungroj