“Sun Ladies VR Film – Teaser
1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first spot was for the organization Women In Film to direct a PSA for “River LA”. I had only DPed branded content before that. I went scouting without any pre-conceived idea of what my shots were going to be. I let the locations inspire, and in this case, they were calling for sweeping and uncut drone shots. It was a challenging shoot, 1 day with over 60 extras. When the PSA was released, it gathered 20k views the first week and won a Telly Award. My next spot was for the Children’s Burn Foundation. No drone this time, but three children from ages 2 months to 5 years old. I learned a lot working with such amazing young actors. I love to use different mediums to tell stories. Traditional 2D, stereoscopic 3D, or virtual reality. It’s about having different tools in your tool belt as a storyteller.
2) How did you get into directing?
Funnily enough, it was because my best friend in junior high wanted to become a director. I didn’t even know it was a thing. I was addicted to books, TV and films, but I never thought it could be a possible career. When I studied the various film schools in France my friend wanted to go to, I fell in love with the idea of becoming a storyteller. But it was only many years later, during my last year in high school, that I made the final decision. I was born and raised in remote France countryside, no one I knew was even remotely an artist, let alone working in the entertainment industry. It was a difficult decision to make.
3) What is your most recent project?
“The Sun Ladies”, an interactive virtual reality experience about the Yazidis women fighting ISIS in Iraq. It was my first time in a war zone, and also a film I produced, co-directed and DPed. A passion project, which premiered at Sundance and went on to be selected at SXSW, HotDocs and Cannes.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
My favorite part is seeing someone being touched emotionally by my work. As a child, I would daydream all the time and visit one story world after another through books and films. If I can give a little moment of awe to my audience and create a lasting memory for them, it makes me very happy.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
The struggles of the real world. Finding financing for projects. Convincing clients of my vision. I had to learn how to network, pitch, and communicate efficiently. Quite a stretch for a dreamy kid who just wanted to make great stories.
6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
With the success of “The Sun Ladies”, I’m planning on continuing my work in the field of Virtual Reality, both for narrative, docs and branded content. At the same time, I want to reconnect with the “traditional” 2D world and focus on directing commercials. As I’m also a cinematographer, I love to direct highly visual kinds of content, such as cars, luxury products or action.
7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I produced “The Sun Ladies” with actress and activist Maria Bello. I learned a lot from her, her passion and her experience both in TV and film. She often helped me overcome my impatience and frustration as I’m building my career in entertainment. She says, ‘Just do the work’. The success of “The Sun Ladies” proved her right. We worked tirelessly on this project, with no budget and no support whatsoever. We did the best we could, and it was worth it.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
Steven Spielberg. He has mastered a lot of different genres, but always puts the story first. Each shot is precisely crafted to convey a specific emotion or reveal an unknown side of a character. His camera work is precise, yet feels organic.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
The Fountain, Master and Commander, and Jurassic Park are my top three movies. For TV, Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid reader. I’ve lived a thousand extraordinary adventures, through the stories in my books. Many years later, I am an independent filmmaker, a 3D and VR specialist for studio films, and have directed several short films and PSAs. I have also published two books, one about 3D filmmaking and my second book “Virtual Reality Filmmaking: Techniques and Best Practices for VR Filmmakers”. I then moved to Los Angeles to work on Stalingrad and Transformers 4: Age of Extinction. As a director, I possess a unique and recognizable style with a strong visual sense because of my background as a DP. My favorite genres are character-driven science fiction and thriller/horror. My films usually exhibit a blurred mix of dream, fantasy and reality, but they’re always guided by a strong story.
Ross Grogan, The Cavalry
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