Here’s our 8 questions with French director Julie Gautier.
Based in Nice since the age of 26, she started creating artistic underwater videos that bring a new look on the marine world with her partner, Guillaume Néry, the freediving world champion.
Their strength comes from using freediving to work on each side of the camera. Being completely self taught, she draws inspiration from dance, comics and cinema.
Today, they are working with Guillaume under their own label «Les Films Engloutis».
Here’s 8 questions with Julie Gautier.
1. Filmmaker, free diver and dancer. How do you define yourself?
I am all of this combined but mainly I am an ocean lover.
2. You were born on Reunion Island and water is a recurring leitmotif in your works. There’s clearly a relation. So what does water represent to you?
I grew up surrounded by water. My father thought me to spearfish very young. Being in the water is part of my in heritage, my DNA.
3. Let’s talk about your latest short film “AMA”. It’s great work because it’s simple and direct with an important message dedicated “to all the women of the world.” Where the idea came from and how long it took to realize it?
As my father is a spearfisher, freediver and my mother a dancer I grew up practicing both of these sports. When I discovered fiming I very quickly thought that I could bring these tow worlds together and that it could create something beautiful and unique.
Dancing underwater, not in mid water but using the floor to really stick to the quality of movement of the art of dance was a dream since almost 8 years.
But I also knew that I wanted to give sense to that project in order to make it even stronger.
I wrote several ideas and scenario. But 3 years ago life made me face a terrible trial of life and I dedicated the movie to this.
More technically, I did one month of improvisation of movement underwater in a pool in Nice. It took us, me and my friend and ballet teacher Ophelie Longuet, one extra month to create the choreography and rehearsal to make it perfect.
I also prepared a shooting plan and had a lot of discussion with my DOP to prepare the shoot. We had to find a solution to do the rain at the beginning, prepare the lightning of the pool and plan the different angles I wanted for each shot. It was quite difficult to be both the director and the model so I had to prepare the shoot very precisely. Ophely and Jacques my DOP helped me a lot with that, because they knew very well the project and are close to me. I’ve been working with Jacques since 10 years and dancing with Ophélie since 8 years.
4. In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing you have faced in creating/filming AMA project?
It is very difficult to dance underwater, specially when you want to stay on the ground. You cannot let go, you have to fight against the lack of gravity. Your entire body is tense. You try not to make bubbles. It is the opposite of what makes you stay long underwater. But honestly the most difficult was, with all this constraints, to give some emotions to my movements. To live the dance, to feel the subject of the film. Because I didn’t wanted to just make a film about movement but to try to transmit emotions. So yes my biggest challenge was to express something through the choreography.
5. Tell us something about your creative and art process. What is creativity for you?
For me creativity is not something you learn but something you capture. I don’t think I create anything I just let myself be inspired by everything I see, hear, feel. To be creative is to be intuitive, so it is something external that is given to you.
6. Someone’s creativity you admire?
I am stunned by the creativity of Miyasaki Hamao. First, I am crazy about animation and comics, but I am impressed by the world he created full of onirism, poetry and kindness towards human and nature.
7. Goals for the next 12 months?
Guillaume and I came with our daughter to French Polynesia to have a life closer to the water and to be more together. We have been working a lot and we don’t want carrier to take over family and enjoying life. We will be here until January. Of course we will still work on some projects but will travel less and enjoy the whale season here. In January we go back to France to launch our last movie « One Breath Around the world » at the “Salon de la Plongée” in Paris.
I am also working on a project with the star dancer Sylvie Guillem. We want to create a duo both on land and underwater to sensibilize the public to the cause of protecting the oceans.
We are still at the premises of the project and still look for the good partners.
8. Lastly, do you have a message to Feel Desain readers?
Art is very good way to transmit emotions. Use it to protect the values you believe in, to spread words of kindness, to open the eyes to the beauty of our world. And try to think about what you can do daily to protect it.