Pierre Ponchant won Best Music Video in the FilmConvert Competition 2019, as chosen by Ted Sims of Indy Mogul. Ted said for him it was the most “visually stunning of the films, and I’m a sucker for a little animation/live-action crossover.”
Give us a bit of detail about yourself – background, profession, how you got into filmmaking and your current role
My name is Pierre Ponchant and I was born in Lille, France. Around 15, my cousin showed me films by Terry Gilliam or Dario Argento and we soon started making some crappy camcorder movies down his basement or in my garage.
In High School, I formed a rock band and started writing songs. Inspirations were mostly Radiohead, Suede, Pink Floyd. Then I tried to go to university but it was a complete failure.
I spent a lot of time on my computer making music while my parents were pushing me to find a job in a “creative” domain. I started my first job as a Sound Designer for an e-learning company. The first days were pretty cool as I was paid for using music software I used to learn at home. Then, with the help of my good friend Justine Buseyne, I got a new job as a Webdesigner.
During the job interview, I heard: “- I’m sure you know Photoshop like the back of your hand”.I didn’t know what to answer as I had never used it… so I said: ” – Yes! For sure !” There I met Sylvain Daudier who taught me pretty much everything I needed to know to start working.
Two years later we both got fired.
I worked with him on illustrations and animations:
Then I worked as a “Flash designer” in a “not so creative” web agency.
Then I got fired again.
I ended up working as a freelance videographer and some times as a Photographer.
Tell us about your film – how did it come about?
I met Jeremy (Jelly Bean’s singer and composer) at a party hosted by some good friends we had in common. He told me he was looking for someone the create visuals around the music of Jelly Bean’s first Album.
I said: ” – Great! I’ll let you know if I think of someone in particular! ” Then I realized he was asking me to do it! I listened to the songs and instantly loved it. I followed the band to a photoshoot in a beautiful swimming pool and started filming the place. The result was what could be called an “animated diaorama” for their song
Practice makes better
We quickly got to work on a second music video for Holiday:
My favorite track on the album was Astronaut. I think we all wanted to find a pretty unique way to illustrate this one.
The song itself is pretty much already led as a movie, so I didn’t want to make a “traditional” short film over the music. That’s pretty much what all the other local bands would produce in our area, so maybe that was a way to stand out from them.
Then, one night as I couldn’t find sleep. I started thinking of a way to make a man leave the ground and fly to space without showing it. I had the idea to let it be perceived through the reflection of his helmet visor. This idea finally did not make it to the actual video, but that was a starting point.
I thought it would be cool if the whole story could be shot with the main actor always standing at the same spot but with all the elements moved around him. From then on, I knew it had to be a sequence shot.
For the first time in my life, I made a storyboard and showed it to the band. We started to work on every element of production design and costumes. Everything was done by the band’s entourage and with our own money.
I crafted the helmet out of EVA foam and several retrieved items from my garage.
Marion Prouvost was a huge help as she was able to materialize the costumes that had to be made of old ladies’ clothes I bought in a thrift store. It was a big challenge since the costumes had to be slipped on and off during the video !!! She finished everything the day we shot. The hands you can see on the screen are theirs!
We were lucky to have a friend who is working in a studio.
She managed to keep the key for the weekend and let us in.
How did you find out about FilmConvert?
I’m pretty sure I found out about FilmConvert in a tutorial on YouTube, maybe on Indy Mogul’s channel or something equivalent. The first time I used it was as a third party plugin for Vegas Studio.
Why did you decide to use FilmConvert for this particular project?
At first, we tried to dirty up the image and almost get a VHS look. We also tried to mimic a super 8 look. But we realized we were losing ourselves. We decided to focus more on the performance, so we needed something more precise and subtle to get a look.
And to me, the easiest way to get the job done is to use FilmConvert. All the tools are gathered at the same place and that’s so handy to speed up the workflow.
What was the particular look or style you were going for with your video?
As I said before we did not want to match any particular style, era or filming technique. We just wanted the image to look more flattering. Film convert also helped merge the first and the second part ( with visual fx ) consistently.
Tell us about your workflow. What settings, film stock, camera profiles and tweaks did you use in FilmConvert?
I shot with Sony A7r3 with the “Neutral” profile.
I don’t know why but FJ Ast 100 is my favorite film emulation, I always end up with this one.
We used the curves tool in FilmConvert to get the contrast needed. The color setting is great to alter the original tones that can be sometimes too harsh. Adding some grain is a pleasure in Film Convert as you can precisely set it to taste!
What other effects or tweaking did you use?
I used many handmade techniques to create the Space visuals. My girlfriend Estelle Hüther painted beautiful textures that I used for the planets.
The star fields were made with glitter liquid watercolor paint.
I used after effects to blend all the elements.
I am very happy since we had a lot of good feedback from now on.
Funny Fact: We released Astronaut in September and a few weeks later Thom Yorke ( which is one of my favorite artists) released a video for his song Last I heard made at Artcamp. I watched the video and I was blown away by the beauty of it.
I wrote to Art Camp to tell them that it was a masterpiece. I told them I also made a video featuring a “sea of astronauts”. Guess what? I got a very nice message in response from Santiago Carasquilla. He told me he saw “Astronaut” and found it cool, with a “Michel Gondry” vibe!
Of course, Michel Gondry was a great influence! How couldn’t it be? I always loved Michel Gondry’s work because it has always been way more about the ideas rather than about the money. He invented so many techniques with this way of working. I sent him a message via Instagram, but unfortunately, he did not respond. I told him that it would make very happy if he got to see it.
Another impossible dream I have is to get Thom York to watch it! Even if he hates it!
His personality and his music always followed me.