After discussing how Claude Mossessian started his career, in this second instalment of the interview with the filmmaker Prominent Monkey focuses on his work with French digital artist Miguel Chevalier.
Prominent Monkey: I find your long-lasting collaboration with Miguel Chevalier particularly interesting. How did you start to work with him?
Claude Mossessian: I met him three years ago at the Galerie Baudoin Lebon. He had been invited by a friend of his and one of his works was on display. I interviewed him and shot some images for a film on the exhibition. Last April, I met him again at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Céret and I asked him: “Miguel, are you interested in a film about your work, a portrait?”. He replied with enthusiasm: “Yes, of course!”. Then we started to shoot at Cité de Carcassonne. After that first film he asked me to make several shorts for promotional purposes. Our idea is to film every exhibition for one year, which will form a portrait at the end.
P. M. As a filmmaker who distributes his own content online, do you think that the Internet is providing a sustainable source of income for established professionals and emerging talents? Or do only traditional business models (e.g. commissioned or sponsored films) really work in your opinion?
C. M. My films are paid for by sponsors (museums, galleries or artists) as promotional tools. As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t work within the limits of traditional film or TV business models and I’m not even interested in those solutions, which I consider too slow. I’m used to working alone, taking care of every aspect of the production, post-production and distribution: proposals, shooting, editing, publishing etc. I don’t want to be slowed down by a TV process. It takes too long and it’s to complicated for me. I like to be efficient, flexible, on demand for special events and collaborations with great artists. They absolutely need to have an archive and filming them is the perfect way to document their work.
So, I try to make money with my works. It’s hard, but I prefer to live this way rather than in my previous salaried employment. It’s more exciting and fascinating. I’ve decided to be brave and live with passion. When you decide to do something with passion every day, I don’t know why but a sort of magic way presents itself in front of you, and then you meet somebody who is going to be important for your work, and so on… Just like what happened with Miguel: I’m totally free, he absolutely trusts me.
P. M. Is this a freedom that you also enjoy while documenting the work of other artists? What does it mean, to you, to be an “independent” filmmaker?
C. M. Three words: to be free. To decide with pure instinct what you want to do and film. Artists are alive! And I want to be a witness, to trace their creative energy. I’m not interested in other subjects.
(Images © 2014 Miguel Chevalier, videos © 2014 Claude Mossessian. Courtesy of the authors).