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Meet Your Makers: Managing Expectations with Clement Martorell

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Hamlet Paris' executive producer on being a dancer, a desire to make great films and following in his brothers footsteps

Meet Your Makers: Managing Expectations with Clement Martorell

Clement Martorell is executive producer of Hamlet, Paris. Clément began his career at Onirim et Rita, the in-house production at BETC, where he rose through the ranks of production and became senior producer. His production career includes commercials for Puma, Carrefour and Nike, and as a keen hip-hop dancer, has produced music videos for French rappers Todiefor & SHOEBA ft. Roméo Elvis and Lefa to name but a few.


LBB> What first attracted you to production - and has it been an industry you’ve always worked on or did you come to it from another area?

Clement> I went to an ad school because my older brother Julien had started working as an AD/motion designer and I guess I needed to follow his path. We’ve always been very close, with the same friends, same hobbies, same dance company, and when he took on his first job in Paris I did what I had to do to join. These two years in ad school weren’t a great success but it basically taught me what I didn’t want to do in the industry.

But even before advertising, the area I really feel I come from is dance. When I was a kid I was a hip-hop dancer (sounds like a verse from a song, no?). It has been my first true passion and will stay as such. I gave it my all and you could say that my studies paid the price. From age 15 to 25 I danced in my crew and was teaching breakdance, and there was really no space left for school and uni. But today I’d say it has been a real strength, breakdance is a huge part of my life, and my personality. To me, it very much resembles our industry, you have to be creative all the time and look for moves that no one has done or shown before.

 

LBB> What was your first role in the production world and how did this experience influence how you think about production and how you grew your career?

Clement> In school the main thing I’ve learned is that you learn by doing things, so after my studies I got internships in production houses. It lasted for a year and a half, first at Onirim (a luxury-oriented production company), then at Bridges (a very small shop) and lastly at Rita (ad agency BETC’s in-house production structure, at the time). My role then really was to be reliable for any role! Give a hand on a PPM document, deliver camera lenses on a video clip set, dance on the lid of a giant Nutella jar in a video mock-up for an ad, act as line producer on small projects… It gave me a better understanding of how this industry worked and above all it made me realise that everything was possible if you were resourceful, scrappy, and prepared to fight your way through anything. I made it my personal goal to make the others feel I was a valuable cog in the machine and I guess it worked since Rita/BETC offered me to stay at the end of my internship. It was freelance work, underpaid, but it wasn’t even a problem, I had done it :) It was my first real job, and I stayed there for five years.

 

LBB> How did you learn to be a producer?

Clement> By producing. Producing all kinds of films, for all kinds of brands, with all kinds of budgets, constraints or mandates. For five years at BETC I worked with very little money for a very big agency with great expectations and great standards. You had to find clever ways to do things without ever sacrificing quality, and respect the integrity of the creative work. I had to develop the resourcefulness you usually have when producing videoclips, but for very picky and demanding clients.

But to be honest I am still learning. Each project is different, and each time I try to learn from my mistakes -you necessarily let one slip and that’s normal. The important thing is to keep on looking back on your work and grow. To try harder! The urge to do better, it’s what keeps us going. The day I feel like I’ve seen and done it all and that I can’t learn anything anymore should be the day I stop doing what I do. If you feel that way, it means that you’ve got stuck in your own past, whereas our industry is constantly evolving, and that you have to keep up to its pace.   


LBB> Looking back to the beginning of your career, can you tell us about a production you were involved in where you really had to dig deep and that really helped you to grow as a producer?

Clement> My very first one. I was one week into my first internship, I didn’t know anything about anything but I had said during my job interview that I wanted to be a line producer (without really knowing what it implied). My brother was having his first directing gigs and had written a short film on dancing, and Remi Pietka, my internship supervisor told me “Well if you want to be a line producer, handle your brother’s short. You’re in charge.” Cost estimates, film crew, everything was new to me but they trusted me to do it, and that month of hard work taught me more than two years of sleeping in the back of a classroom. They had thrown me in at the proverbial deep end, but it went well and we even got a Vimeo staff pick -which was quite a big acknowledgment at the time.  


LBB> A good producer should be able to produce for any medium, from film to events to digital experience. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why/why not?

Clement> Yep, nowadays you can produce anything for any medium, provided that you surround yourself with the right people. And that’s the producer’s role: you’re like an orchestra conductor, you get the right people around you, you make sure all the instruments are finely tuned, and you play with all that… There are so many things to do, so many things that are now in our reach -it wasn’t exactly like that before and I guess I’m glad in a way to be young and able to see what it all becomes. There are many exciting things I’d love to explore -if it has to do with music, image or art in general I know I will give my all to produce it, and to produce it well / in the best possible way. 

 

LBB> What’s your favourite thing about production and why?

Clement> I’ve always loved working with new talents, young directors. Even if they only have one small good film in their reel, if I feel there is artistic interest there, I go for it and get out of my own way to sell them, and produce the best shit possible with them. We are serving our talents, it’s not the other way around. So working hand in hand with them, making them feel supported, whatever their experience, to me it’s the key to success, and that’s what ultimately makes a difference for a production company. That’s the goal I’ve set for myself and for Hamlet. To work with talents and help them grow -and it will help us grow in return. 


LBB> How has production changed since you started your career?

Clement> Looking for new talents has changed a lot in 10 years. With Instagram you can get in touch with people from all over the world in under a minute. It has become a lot easier to discover and reach that young Scandinavian director who has made one great local Ikea film, but on the other hand you're unlikely to be the first one to call them… One out of two times they’ll tell you they’ve just signed somewhere else. There’s a bidding war on talents, especially in France where there are a lot of great production companies on a relatively small market. 


LBB> And what has stayed the same?

Clement> The will to create films that will leave their mark, become references for a whole generation. That’s the one true goal, whether in advertising or music videos, with a lot of money or almost none at all, make something out of it that will have people say “oh wow, I wish I had done that myself”. All in all, the desire to make great films.  

 

LBB> What do you think is the key to being an effective producer - and is it something that’s innate or something that can be learned?

Clement> Every producer is different, and that’s what makes our job so special. There are no two producers in Paris that have arrived where they are now by going on the same path. You can start as the Spice Girls’ bodyguard and end up at the head of the production of one of the biggest French advertising agencies. There are no rules, only determination to overcome the highs and the lows of the job -just as it is true for an athlete.    


LBB> Which production project from across your career are you most proud of and why?

Clement> ‘Puma - The Flow’, directed by Julien & Quentin and produced back when I was working for Cream (my second job after BETC). La Fourmi, the ad agency, briefed us with only one word, ‘the flow’. Julien and Quentin were almost free to imagine anything, which is incredibly rare nowadays, and even more when you are still quite young. There wasn’t much money but we managed to make a 2 min 30 film out of it! We had to look for ways to make more with less on each step of the way, just like on a music video. Julien and Quentin come from motion design so they took on the post-production all on their own. It was an intense four months of work, but it was worth it. We had been given a chance, and I feel we seized it without thinking too much about the money, and it actually paid. There really was a before and an after with that campaign. It gave Julien & Quentin international awareness, and thanks to that film they met with Jason and Ruben, Hamlet’s founders, who are now my associates. 


LBB> And in terms of recent work, which projects have you found to be particularly exciting or have presented particularly interesting production challenges?

Clement> At the moment it’s hard to choose just one. One year ago I had the opportunity to open Hamlet’s Paris office. Before that, whether it was at BETC or Cream, I was ‘just’ a producer, managing one project at a time. It’s completely different when it becomes your company. Hamlet Paris has kinda become my baby, and each and every project has big and different stakes. The first years are key, people have expectations, you have expectations yourself, and you want to set the right tone. So at the moment all of our projects are exciting and interesting challenges!   

But if I had to talk about one it would be about my first one since we started Hamlet. The clip we made for Monstart, directed by Ludovic Gontrand. Ludo used to be creative at Sid Lee Paris, then made his debut as a director. I was the producer of his first film, back at Cream. I believe he’s very talented, and we simply clicked. When he came to me with this project for an artist nobody knew, without money of course, only two weeks after we had opened Hamlet… well it was hardly the ideal first brief! But his treatment was amazing, the project was ambitious, and now I am very proud of that film.    

 

LBB> Producers always have the best stories. What’s the hairiest / most insane situation you’ve found yourself in and how did you work your way out of it?

Clement> Back when I was an intern at Onirim I was asked one morning to bring some gear at a Parisian palace. They were shooting a clip there for Cassie, P.Diddy’s wife. I had never been on a music video’s set before, and to be honest I was quite impressed to be standing there with the director, who was actually really close to P.Diddy’s crew. It was supposed to last only a few hours, but, surprisingly it didn’t, and I spent all night with P.Diddy’s entourage, moving optic lenses back and forth between the suite and the VIP Room, and smoking weed with them… My phone was out and I hadn’t even warned anyone, but this crazy night is etched in my mind forever. 

 

LBB> What are your personal ambitions or aspirations as a producer?

Clement> I really want Hamlet to become a company that counts on the French market. It’s already the case in Belgium, in Berlin or in China, but here few are those who know us. It’s my personal challenge to turn Hamlet Paris into something more than an office that solely ensures the French rep of foreign directors. I dream of producing podcasts, of representing new French talents, of producing documentaries, and even of creating a fashion brand, all that under and for Hamlet. 

 

LBB> As a producer your brain must have a never ending "to do" list. How do you switch off? What do you do to relax?

Clement> I take care of my two-year-old son. Even if work takes up a lot of my time, I want to be there, to get out of the office early enough to get him at his nanny’s every other day for instance. At some point, he dictates my schedule and that’s it. And that’s cool. In a way, I probably wouldn’t have opened Hamlet Paris if Basile hadn’t shown up. It gives me more balance, it helps switching off and keeps work problems where they should be -at work. In the end I feel even more productive that way, and it’s not rare that the solution I have been looking for all day just naturally appears after his bath time and before I settle down with him to read a musical Paco book for the thousandth time.

But let’s be honest, to switch off and relax after work, I will never say no to a fresh pint of beer…

 

LBB> Producers are problem solvers. What personally fuels your curiosity and drive?

Clement> We have and bring to the table some knowledge and expertise, but it’s our role to invent almost always new solutions, to find ways to make things happen, even if it means twisting the brief. It is, and it should be, fun to look for these ways, these tricks -I’m back to my comparison between production and breakdance. We are not saving lives here, only producing advertising, content… it has its importance of course, but if we don’t take pleasure at some point when doing this job, better do something else. 

 

LBB> What advice would you give to people who are interested in becoming a producer?

Clement> Stay curious, feed oneself with images, films, music, ideas… It’s not that you need trendiness for trendiness, but if you don’t stay up-to-date, you’re out. And if you spend your time complaining that it was better before, that’s probably that you’ve become bitter. It works with advertising, it works for rap music… basically it works with anything.

  

LBB> From your experience what are the ingredients for a successful production?

Clement> A healthy relationship between all the different partners of the production process, and planets that align… And that extra something that can make a film stay in people’s mind for years and years. 

 

LBB> What’s the key to a successful production-client relationship?

Clement> Being on the same page. When you lose a pitch because your client doesn’t share your director’s vision, it’s never pleasant because everybody worked to win and believed in their work, but in the end it’s the only good reason to lose. Winning whilst you had different views lead to chaotic production; winning for any other reason that a shared creative horizon gives you nothing but… really bad films. 

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Hamlet, Mon, 07 Feb 2022 14:15:52 GMT