Mill Director | Axel Courtière

Newly signed to The Mill’s roster, Axel Courtière cleverly fuses live action, 2D, 3D and in camera work, elevating mixed-media to a new level and is renowned for his beautiful art direction and graphic approach.
Work May 25, 2020

Welcome to The Mill! Talk us through your career as a director so far?

I have been a director for eight years now and my work consists mainly of commercials, video clips, title sequences and short films. In all of my work you will find a passion in mixing live action & animation. At the beginning, I studied graphic design in Paris, at Penninghen, so I love to use strong graphic elements, typography, and stylized objects that I design especially for my videos. In fact, I like to draw everything, to create a special universe in itself. I started my career by doing Art direction for other directors: I was making their designs, storyboards, etc.… For commercials like Ikea, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Dolce Gusto… and video clips. With them, I learned a lot about working in a team, and how to communicate as precisely as possible with your different collaborators. And then after four years, I decided to go out on my own and become a director. Working on commercials for Lacoste, Tropicana, Dolce Gusto… I am now splitting my time between commercial works: doing spots for brands or music videos and writing & directing my own movies. I am currently writing two Fantasy film features.

 

What sparked your interest in animation?

My love for animation started when I was very young. I grew up with films like The King and the Mockingbird from Paul Grimault, the amazing work of Aardman studio and the first Tim Burton movies. I think those first images had a huge impact on my imaginary world, and my taste for creating stylized universe, full of fantasy and colours.

 

Your Instagram page is beautifully visual – how has social media changed the way you work?

Social media is now something we cannot avoid. It’s something all brands must include in their communications. So, when I am shooting a commercial, in the back of my mind I always have to think how the video we are creating can live on social media. It has constraints but it can be a way to develop new formats, to have a more interactive approach with the audience. And as a user, I enjoy it, especially to discover artists from all around the world and to keep in contact with the creators I like.

A section from Axel’s Instagram

What are you excited about most in working with The Mill?

The Mill has always been a company that I admire, for their impressive post-production creations, and the great talent that works there. So, I am very proud to now be part of the team, and excited for the future collaborations we’ll have. I can’t wait to create new challenging videos and interact with the team. Another exciting thing is that The Mill is well known in the UK and the US market so for me it’s a great opportunity to work with brands I haven’t work with yet. I am curious to find out how my work is going to evolve through The Mill.

 

Tell us about 3 projects that define your career and why you’ve chosen them? 

I think the first one that I should mention is a videoclip I did a few years ago for the French electro band ‘Poom’. I built the videoclip as a succession of literal puns on the lyrics of the song and used it as a way of twisting the lyrics, to create a surprising mix of images. This piece of work took us six months to build (every image has been designed and created for the video from scratch). I think in a way it’s a big mix of all the things I love, so it’s a very representative work for my style 🙂

Below: Poom Promo ‘Bang Bang’

The second project is a commercial I did for Lacoste, with the French post-production studio Mathematic. It has been created by using 250 Lacoste Polos and for me it’s a great example of what you can create for a brand, when you have a certain freedom from your client. It was made to celebrate the 80 years of Lacoste.

Below: Lacoste ‘Lacoste 80 Years’

The last project and I would say is the most definitory for me – a short-movie I did called ‘Delectable you’. The story is about a Cannibal that falls in love with a Vegetarian girl, but at the same time he is frighten by vegetables. It’s a perfect combination between my love for live action and animation and how you can stylize reality to create a universe at itself, more expressive and poetic. On this project I had the honour to work with the French actress Catherine Deneuve, that plays a little part in it. The short movie has also been selected in 84 festivals and won 26 prices all around the world.

Below: ‘Delectable You’

What have you learned about yourself during this period of lockdown?

 The first thing I’ve realized is how nature is so important to me: after a month in lockdown in Paris, I realized how much I missed it… The second thing I learned is how adaptive we are: after few days without being able to see friends, we all found ways to spend time together with the help of new technology, so we don’t feel too isolated, even if we cannot see each other. And the last thing: isolation is good for writing.

 

You can check out more work on Axel’s Creator page or on his Instagram @axelcourtiere.

Mill Director | Axel Courtière