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Interview: Simon Eléphant is slowing down

Interview: Simon Eléphant is slowing down Simon Eléphant is one of France’s hot young directors. Recently commissioned to direct the COS Frieze Art Fair short, Eléphant’s career spans high-fashion movies, pop music videos and commercial videos for other French brands. Maison Martin Margiela have appointed Eléphant chief filmmaker to promote their collections, causing Vogue France to extol the director’s abilities. Electronic Beats caught up with Eléphant post Frieze Art Fair to chat about his work.

Vogue France recently praised your films for Maison Martin Margiela’s collections – do the ideas come from the designer, or from yourself? To what extent do the collections inspire your work?
For the past two years, I’ve been collaborating with MMM. I did many products films for them and two films for shows. Each project is a collaboration between me and the art director Sophie Toporkoff who comes up with many ideas. It’s very interesting work, since we are a real team, and we are complementary.
I am more inspired by the MMM spirit than the specific collection I’m working on and I am very much inspired by the minimalistic vision of MMM and the simple, falsely low-fi appearance of the MMM collections.

You have directed COS’ Frieze Art Fair film – a minimal, engaging film, did you attend the festival?
COS invited me, but unfortunately I am working on another project right now – so I did not manage to go to London to the Frieze art fair. Hopefully I’ll be able to visit the fair next year …

COS – FRIEZE ART FAIR 2011 from Simon Eléphant on Vimeo.

Which directors do you find exciting right now?
Spontaneously, I would answer with Terrence Mallick, Alain Cavalier, Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche and David Cronenberg. It’s always difficult for me to make a list of “the best” directors cause there are so many good ones !

How do you choose which music videos to direct?
I am a pop music lover, so I mainly work for pop music groups. Moreover, the experience has shown me the track should not bore me after the second time I listen to it as I’ll have to hear it around five hundred times when I do the editing!
Actually, I would be interested to try new experiences and work for electronic music composers.

You’ve been making films for many years, how has your style developed over time?
I’m getting more and more convinced that less is more! As Truffaut said, I’d rather show ten ideas in one shot then ten shots in one idea. I am slowing down, using black and white, trying to eliminate everything that is useless to the topic of the film in order to oppose this culture of “fast-food” disposable images.
I want to take my time and offer a breath of fresh air to my spectators, to make them feel the atmosphere “off screen” rather than bombarding them with gratuitous images.

MAISON MARTIN MARGIELA -Men- Spring Summer 2012 from Simon Eléphant on Vimeo.

What’s the difference between making commercial films and music videos?
Well, at first making a music video allows me much more freedom but sometimes with brands like MMM or COS, even if there are more compromises to make, I’m still happy with the result.

What does the future hold for you?
A feature film !

Published October 19, 2011.