On collaboration + reinvention: Behind The Scenes with HP short film director Stéphanie Artaud

Earlier this year our French director Stéphanie Artaud was commissioned by HP to shoot video content for their ‘Keep Reinventing’ campaign. The resulting short film, ‘Pythagoras and the Dreamer’, is a brilliant exploration of creativity and technology. Once you’ve watched the film itself, check out a special behind the scenes video above!

We caught up with Stéph to chat about her experiences with collaboration, reinvention and bringing her her HP pitch to life.

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Your video for HP explores ideas of creativity and engineering. Where did the idea come from?

I started working on the idea of reinventing, and was trying to feel what was the common ground between all (re-)inventors, meaning creators, scientists, designers, artists, technicians, etc. and it just occurred that it was passion. So I fled back to childhood, because that’s where you start creating by storytelling and building your imaginary world, and it’s even more rewarding when you grow up, if you get a chance not to lose this part of yourself.

The scale of the film is massive! Can you talk about collaborating with so many different people (and animals!) on this shoot?

There were 17 of us on the shoot, plus 1 horse. We really get along great working together. Most of us know each other either from school or because we work on other film projects, live performances or free fights 🙂 Sliman the skater is a french MMA boxing champ!

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One of the most striking parts of the video is the lighting, projections and VFX! How did it all come together?

The DOP and Mapper are two friends of mine who I often work with on creative/underground projects, so it was really natural and intuitive putting up something with them, the three of us had this freedom of being inventive, because I wanted to highlight them too in their creativity, and really they got that right, I’m proud of working with all my team.

The idea was trying to stay mostly “live”, that’s why we favoured mapping over VFX most of the time, even if it looked raw sometimes, we wanted it untamed, like the horse performance, the dancer, the skater, and let happen whatever would occur!

The Motion Designer had his part too though, he had worked with Alex our DOP before, so again, he got the idea real fast 🙂 He used Joy H.’s painting and integrated his work smoothly with ours!

What kind of gear did you use for this film? 

We shot with RED Epic 5K, with DJI Ronin, Kessler cranes, two Christie LX 100 VP’s and I don’t know something like 17 lights, 17kW and a light bridge. (I’m clearly missing 50% of the gear…) In post production, we edited in Adobe Premiere, After Effects, and colour-graded with RED Giant’s Magic Bullets. For the 3D mapping, Coste used Sketchup for modelling, C4D and VDMX for content and real time effects, and MadMapper for architecture corrections.

The ‘Keep Reinventing’ tagline is so fitting for filmmakers. How do you think your style has been reinvented over the years?

I started 8 years ago, shooting on Super 16mm roll and cameras, over the years on DV, HDV, then HD SSD’s, then blastin 5K .. you’ll never stop me! I’ll always justify the technique with the purpose, I’m very attached to picture style/aesthetic/texture as the mathematics of it, it has to be conceived in the beginning. I was quite a loner before, staying quite underground too, and over the years the team grew bigger and I learned that filmmaking is more intense when you’re doing it with the ones you respect. Scriptwise, I’m always evoking childhood somehow, it’s like reinventing your life and world every time innit? 🙂

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I am hands on both in technique and creative process… If you want people to understand you, it’s best if you speak multiple languages.

As well as directing, you’re often a screenwriter, camera operator and editor. You’re even in this film! Is it important for you to be hands on with every aspect of your productions?

Well I am hands on both in technique and creative process, it’s like, if you want people to understand you, it’s best if you speak multiple languages. Technique is a knowledge and a language, so I can completely explain and be understood by my fellow technicians on set. It’s a base for me, that way we all know I’m not asking for (completely) insane stuff, and the team doesn’t freak out when it comes to the tough shit.

On the other hand, I don’t usually feature in any films (Just the once, they deleted the scene because of me, i destroyed their sequence shot!) but for HP it’s just because we wanted to say the future-users are us! Metaphorically, it served the purpose…


A special thanks to Stéphanie for chatting to us! Watch all the HP short films here.

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