Not wanting to put you off ever visiting Directors Notes again by getting too confessional, but if I were searching for the perfect adjective to describe losing my virginity, ‘underwhelming’ is probably the best fit – much more so for my unfortunate partner in crime I’m sure! If only I’d had Director Axel Courtière on hand to work some of the CG, mixed media magic he seamlessly weaves together for his fantastical ‘first time’ music video for Poom’s Toi & Moi. I caught up with Axel to discover how he managed to create a film all about sex which was both cosmically sensual and innocent at the same time.

Toi & Moi is far removed from the frenetic pace of Big Bang, your first collaboration with POOM. How did this concept of a fantastical rendition of the ‘first time’ develop?

When I first listened to the title Toi & Moi, I was surprised by its melancholic nostalgia. The rhythm here is definitely softer and more subtle than in Big Bang, which is exceedingly more frantic – I always feel it’s more complex to make a film for a gentle song. When I received the title, I was working on another music video for which I had developed this idea of the ‘first time’ similar to a space odyssey experience. But the project wasn’t really going anywhere. And boom, I listen to Toi & Moi and I think to myself how perfectly this idea of the ‘first time’ would stick to this song! Sometimes you just have to let things run their course! 🙂

Very often, the less you show, the better it works!

There’s a innocence to the film, but not at the expense of sexiness. How did you walk that line between the two sides of this formative experience?

This was in fact the challenge in this film, to keep it sensual whilst maintaining a certain innocence in the characters. I think that the use of symbolic images, as well as choosing to resort to oneirism to express the yearning between my characters helped me a lot. Very often, the less you show, the better it works!

The combination of live action and CGI is fantastic throughout. What was your gear setup on set and what methods did you employ to make that combination easier in post?

The set was relatively simple. We used a green screen, a jib arm for the fly over of the young girl as well as a turnaround. This type of shot is usually done in motion control which requires complex wiring for the actors, but this being a fairly tight budget music video, we had to be quite resourceful in order to simplify things. For the actors to float in the air, we simply laid them down on green cubes and in the end it worked just fine.

We had well prepared everything to the last detail upstream with Digital District, our post production studio. Each and every shot was in the storyboard, timed and pre-animated. This way we knew the exact position of each actor, how to direct them, which way they had to look, etc. This type of film, quite technical I mean, requires a very well thought-out pre-production prep. Otherwise when you start editing you end up with numerous inconsistencies.

What do you have coming up next?

Well, I’m currently finishing a sci-fi short film, more or less 15 minutes long, titled Belle à Croquer with Lou de Laâge and Catherine Deneuve. It’s a big project I’ve been working on for several years now, and it takes place in a fantasy completely zany world (it’s the story of a cannibal who falls in love with a vegetarian but he’s terrified by vegetables). Another ‘first time’ story…in a way.

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