Filmmaker Of The Month: Arthur Chays

Hi Arthur!
Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m 29. I am a film director. I grew up in Chamonix in the mountains in France. I now live in Lyon, where cinema was born.
I have had quite a broad professional journey, but a lucky one!
I started with documentaries; a 52’ when I was 20, then a bit of reporting and some shorts. After some time in cinema school in Lyon, where I met friends I still work with, I worked a lot as a location manager on feature films and at festivals.

Also, as many people do, I tried some different experiences and had a secondary role in a feature film.
Then I worked with my father, a scenographer, by making video content for exhibitions. It’s a very interesting job because you have to think of video in space, away from classical frames.

I joined the corporate video world via a contest. I made a short movie for a client who I sill work with, and he really liked the video. And this is how, little by little, I gained new clients, made other films, and now I have been living from my video work for nearly 10 years.

Today I work for big French and International companies such as Michelin, Volvo, Egis, Nexity, Engie…
Even for these briefs, I always try to preserve what, I hope, defines my style: an original concept, some softness, and a little bit of poetry (which is not always easy when you are talking about digging tunnels!)
These days I feel like working on more “fictional” projects, so let’s see!

One project is taking more and more space in my life: in 2012, I created a short movie Festival and Contest for 15-25 years-olds, in Chamonix. The Préambules Festival, to help young people create films. This year we started funding winners, so they can shoot their next film!


Your idea for Action Aid was really striking, how did it come to you?

I write lots of my ideas out of intuition and constraint! I quickly read the brief then I leave it aside. I write down everything that crosses my mind: an idea can seem wrong, but only because it is not structured. I think of it a lot, it is not a very enjoyable step, I feel as if I was stuck at the bottom of a cavern, and the exit is the idea!

Then suddenly, usually at an incongruous moment, I see a scene in my mind, and that’s where the idea comes from. For this project, I had this image quite early, of someone you can’t distinguish, who comes to help the young lady unable to find a way out by herself. This someone became a shadow, and finally this shadow became the young lady herself. Simple!

Believe in Yourself

Video Vincitore del contest "Today is the day to say NO" contro la violenza sulle donne di Rosato & ActionAid Italia Contribuisci anche tu, condividilo e lascia anche un piccolo un commento… per non rimanere indifferenti.

Publicada por Rosato en Martes, 27 de febrero de 2018


We’re really curious about the FX process, how did you manage the shadow trick?

I knew that I would have little time to produce this project, so I immediately went for something with only one character. For the shadow, I made a few tests to understand how to make it react to its environment.
Initially I wanted to film a real shadow, but the rendering was too complex, so I went for a technique I have mastered, which is incrustation.

We dressed another young woman (Marie Laroche, who also composed the music!) with a blue jumpsuit and a green wig. Then we only needed three takes per shot:
1. The actress and the silhouette in the jumpsuit
2. The actress alone
3. A take of the empty place

Then, we grouped all this in post production, we created the silhouette of the shadow from the jumpsuit, and voilà!

For equipment nerds: we shot with this light configuration: one mini pro ursa with Celeres HS series, 2 flexible Aladin and one Fresnel Led.


I imagine you must have met some challenges, what was the biggest one?

Finishing in time!
The shooting went really well; we shot everything in 2 half days.
I started editing on deadline day! And in the middle of the effects process (90% of the film has effects), I started to believe I couldn’t do it. I was working in parallel on the editing and on the effects. When one was blocked, I was going to the other, and the editing was still not fixed, so I could not start composing the music…But difficulties started disappearing as we got further in, and it worked!

Marie did an amazing job on the music, because I think she only had 3 hours to write, compose, play and record the track! It really brought something to the movie.


Can you recall a funny moment during the shooting?

All the shooting was quite funny, despite the serious subject. Looking at this silhouette in a jumpsuit and a green wig, made the whole thing quite unintelligible! That’s what the passers-by must have thought when we were shooting in the city…


Where does all this inspiration come from?

I try to get inspired by everything around me: books, movies, places…
I don’t really follow videos on Youtube, I am more into Vimeo, where the content is less buzz oriented.
Actually it might be a bit old-fashioned, but I try to not get influenced too much by Internet videos. There are some beautiful things, but ephemeral… I prefer cinema from that point of view.


What did you think of the project overall?

I thought it was really interesting. It’s nice to make movies, which although they are made for a brand, focus on a message – when movies are “inspirational” more than “advertising”. I enjoy working on brand identity content.


Do you have some more crazy ideas with Userfarm, or personal projects?

Of course! Many! Production ideas, processes, formats, stories… But I’m keeping all this secret for now!
I work in parallel on many projects, with a focus on sponsorship. Companies need to produce more films, not only for themselves. The subvention system doesn’t work anymore on the long term, in this economy.


What did you learn from Userfarm?

This concept didn’t exist when I started making films. How excited I was to see a platform that would allow us to touch brands that we thought were inaccessible!
The motivation to participate in contests can come from many reasons, but to me, more than everything it is the desire to challenge myself, as I am a professional. It is an opportunity to try new things, new ways of writing, new effects, new directions.

You really want to train in film? Participate in the contests!
For those who are starting, it is a great way to get practice, to learn to read and interpret a brief, to imagine the expectations of the client, to write efficiently, short, concise, to fit in the imposed format.

Of course it is very enjoyable to receive a reward!
But sometimes what is really helpful is to not get selected. You don’t get discouraged, and next time, you try to go a little further! To me, these contests are refreshing for my young career, they are creative chances that give sense to all the rest.

More than once I have recommended people around me who want to make movies, to participate in Userfarm projects. When you take part in the game, it is worth it.


Thank you Arthur!


By: Marion Ratié

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