Up-and-coming French director Maxime Bruneel, represented 1stAveMachine in the UK and US and Eddy in France, is not only a skilled filmmaker – he’s also a prolific artistic talent. He’s an illustrator, animator and filmmaker who’s making impressive work which is turning heads. And, with just shy of 100,000 followers on Instagram, his work is proving popular online.
2017 saw the release of Maxime’s first ever short film ‘Olga’ and he’s got more work planned for release too. LBB’s Jason Caines decided to sit Maxime down to chat about his favourite projects of his career so far, his inspirations and influence, plans for the future and what it’s like to work with Kate Moss and Diplo.
LBB> What were you like as a kid?
Maxime Bruneel> I was very happy. I grew up by the sea and I spent my childhood sailing in competition in great places.
LBB> How did you first get into filmmaking?
MB> I went to Paris to do an art direction and drawing course and I did an exchange program in New York for a year, at School of Visual Art. I met a great motion design teacher there, so I got into animation and motion design. And I started to get very curious about learning new techniques, new styles and mixing them together. So, as an extension to this I started to shoot live action for music video and commercial.
LBB> You made a short film called ‘Olga’. Tell us about how that your experience making it.
MB> The experience was amazing. I found it very challenging, way more difficult than anything I have done before, but very rewarding on an intellectual level. I wrote this story based on a personal experience and it was fascinating to go through the process of bringing this story to life. I had the chance to work with a great team that was more experienced than me, and they helped me all through the process to make the film that I wanted to do. The film has been shown in many festivals around the world and I’ve been travelling with it a lot this year ; it’s a lot of fun.
LBB> How did you get your first role in the advertising industry and who was it for?
MB> In 2010 I was working in London doing an animated music video all by myself, for a Los Angeles band. The singer came to Paris, so I went to meet with him. I wanted to shoot his mouth singing to turn it into an animation, and a friend of his passed by while we were doing it. He was working for Microsoft and they were creating their version of the Cloud. It’s famous today but at the time he needed a commercial to explain how it worked to his clients. So I did this spot for him in direct contact with Microsoft.
LBB> How did you get into creating stop-motion?
MB> In 2009 when I left school, my first project was a music video for a Canadian singer. I was working with a good friend of mine, Olivier Wyart, and we came up with this idea of making 15 drawings with seeds on a wet piece of tissue, and let the seeds grow for a week.
We took pictures every 30 minutes, day and night. It was a very abstract week, but at the end the drawings were animated and it was super cool. One of them represented a lung and it looked like it was breathing.
j'imagine_Mathieu_Lippé from maxime bruneel on Vimeo.
LBB> On the directing side, you’ve worked with Kate Moss for Adidas Originals. That’s impressive for an up-and-coming director. What was that project about? Tell us about that experience.
MB> This was one of my favorite projects. The idea was to hack a famous picture of Kate Moss, to lead to the message ‘nothing is sacred’.
I love Adidas commercials, they are always questioning the relationship between the street and the fashion world. They truly are trend makers, so I really felt that we were doing something original and new with the way they wanted to approach this spot. The agency Johannes Leonardo gave me great freedom ; their creatives were the best I’ve met so far and the producers at 1st Ave Machine were amazing too. They helped me create this specific work flow that allowed us to edit while we were creating content. I had the same sensation that I had when I was working alone at home, when I had time to do my own experiments. But I had the power of a great team and a cool message to support.
MB> I guess, but I am doing such a bad job posting images that make sense with my real work, that I think the work comes from a more standard channel. I work with great producers at 1st Ave Machine and at Eddy; they are family to me and they do an amazing job to found the projects that I want to do.
LBB> Alongside your social media following, you’ve also directed for Facebook, the world’s biggest social media platform. Has this helped you to find new jobs?
Facebook "Facebook outstanding stories" - Maxime Bruneel from Eddy on Vimeo.
MB> Yes sure, this spot is also a continuity of the Adidas, ‘Gazelle’ spot so I guess it helped me to show another example of what I love to do with a well-known brand.
LBB> What do you think is the best film project that you've directed?
ADIDAS NMD from maxime bruneel on Vimeo.
MB> My short film Olga was the most intense experience as a director. I really have a lot of love for this film.
LBB> On your Instagram there are a lot of paintings, illustrations and photography. We’ve also seen your brilliant stop motion animation work. Do you also shoot photos and paint?
MB> I love to touch everything that create images, sound or stories, so I do a lot of experiments, just for fun on my free time. It’s just for recreation, I don’t take it seriously but it feeds my creativity for commissioned work for sure.
LBB> You’ve worked on a series of animated films such as the music video for Diplo & Swich. How did you create the animation and what was that experience like?
MB> I did this music video for a friend. TT the artist is the singer on the track. I started to animate frame by frame all the best existing shots of twerking that I could find, to see what we could do with it. I did that by myself for six months and then I had the help of Eddy production and a couple of animators to help me finish it. Great experience, long time to spend in front of asses twerking but very fun.
LBB> Is there any advertising work that inspire you to create work or that influence your directing?
MB> I love sport commercials ; Nike, Adidas and Under Armor spots have inspired me a lot. I want to do more of this kind of spot where you experience the reality of an athlete’s life : the preparation, the mental strength and the tension of the fans.
LBB> Do you have any advice for budding film directors?
MB> Work hard, play hard.
LBB> Are you currently working on any projects that you want the people out there to know about?
MB> I am writing a short film based on a family story and I am doing a 15 minute animation for a trippy surf documentary that will be out next year.