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The Directors: Reynald Gresset

The Directors 189 Add to collection

tempomedia director Reynald reflects on creative ideas, relationships with DOPs and the joy of telling stories

The Directors: Reynald Gresset

Reynald Gresset’s journey as a filmmaker began when he worked as an operator for international news outlets filming from Afghanistan to China and Lebanon to South America. He followed his passion for filmmaking and music shooting live performances and  personal interviews of world renown musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Metallica, Sting etc….  

These early experiences shaped Reynald’s interest in the world’s ever changing human landscape and the power of creative expression, feeding a curiosity that has only grown with his experience. His desire to constantly evolve as a director and master the craft of filmmaking prompted his transition into commercials.  

Reynald has directed numerous successful campaigns for Samsung, National Geographic, CocaCola, Peugeot, Renault, T-Mobile, Toyota,  Heineken, Verizon, Orange, Vodafone and many more. His work was awarded numerous times over the years, e.g. at the Clios, Epica Awards, Kinsale Shark Awards, Eurobest and a few Lions in Cannes, to name only a few.  

Reynald’s approach to filmmaking is defined by his desire to understand the personal dimension of a story and to capture with his camera powerful  fragments of human experience. Naturalism and a  photographic sensibility in the use of light infuse Reynald’s aesthetic with the patina of life. His is a lucid and yet poetic look that translates on screen into visually sophisticated, cinematic, and truly vibrant imagery. 

What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?

I am foremost interested in scripts with a creative idea. We are all, as directors, attracted to those. I also like scripts that are different from what I usually work on. An idea or narrative that I have not already included in my reel. I try not to shot myself out from other creative styles.

How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

When I get a script I first try and imagine how to make it more cinematic. An agency script is often just a few lines that need to be incarnated and developed. It is what is expected of me.

I have to develop the visual mood, describe the acting and actors and the general artistic direction.

I listen to music while looking through pictures and progressively the narrative and the film becomes more obvious to me.

If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

To be honest, I only research if the brand is totally unknown to me so as not to make an obvious error in my treatment which could lead to a general misunderstanding on the part of our agency and client. In general I focus solely on the script.


For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

The most important to me is my relationship with the DOP. It is the person with whom I have the important artistic relationship. For the last 10 years I have also worked closely with my producer in the preparation phase to discuss all creative aspects of the narrative. We work ardently on the elaboration of the story board to keep the essential aspects of the story-telling…which for a director can be the more difficult part of the process.

What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

As mentioned previously, I like telling a story. Finding the right casting is possibly what I appreciate most. Nonetheless, more conceptual work from a strictly commercial point of view, also attracts me very much.

What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

I am not sure it qualifies but I am often accused of being too passionate and of working too much…before and after the shoots.

Crews are aware that our working together will not be a ‘vacation’ but I believe this to be the same for all directors.

There is no secret for lasting in this business. You have to work hard and think/reflect constantly. It is the only way I know how to do my job.

Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

I never work directly with cost controllers…it is my producer’s prerogative. However for the last few years, directors have been more implicated in the production process and I have learned to appreciate it more and more. It feels like a natural evolution and I like it.

What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

In my career I have often run into complicated situations. We have always found a solve…not always the right one but one that allowed us to move on. Wrong casting, bad weather, technical issues…sometimes all on the same shoot. On a shoot I once had a weather issue compounded by a broken Russian Arm and a drone crashing thereby destroying the lens attached to it. It was a tense on set moment…we made do.

It is important to keep in mind that a commercial shoot/production is always a prototype. Each with its inherent problems. It is one of the reasons this job is so addictive: you can never control everything.


How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

It is more and more important. There is no longer nay room for DIVA directors who believe only their word and ideas make sense. Times have changed. It is better to be clear on your intentions both with agency and client.

What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Sadly I don’t have much time on my shoots to counsel but I do appreciate seeing the work of promising young talents. Sometimes that person is someone who worked with you on set a few years back…and you noticed then that there was promise and a similarity with you at the start of your career.

How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time? 

I am not sure what I can answer here…A year ago, few could imagine what the world was going to become. Even fewer how long this would last.

I do believe that we will use remote systems more often for meetings and PPM’s. We have learned how to do video call-backs and possibly to reduce the number of people on set. Before the onset of this pandemic I always did live call-backs. Met the actors in person.

Today it is more difficult to judge an actor’s skin, his personality, charisma but it has now become so common that it may well become the new norm.

Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Yes, sometimes it is a little complicated to integrate all these formats but it is another evolution and we must adapt. It is very Darwinian: We adapt in order to survive.


What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

I am a storytelling type of director. These technologies have yet to be widely used in my realm of film making.

Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why? 

Telekom - Rotation 

Vodafone - Enjoy the Power of Freedom 

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tempomedia, Thu, 25 Mar 2021 09:13:02 GMT