“..I was a bird. I am a bird: she knows how to fly, she feels the wind, she touches the sky and reveals the wings to the space, the space of freedom..”
We met by accident during the latest Fashion Week in Paris in September.
At the restaurant of a conspicuous and glamorous Hotel Costes I had a meeting set with my friend and a fellow photographer Antoine Verglas (we’ll talk about him a bit later). Benjamin joined us briefly to discuss his and Antoine joint project. We exchanged a couple of words and I got a business card of the famous photographer, who directed a short feature and is a Director of a Fashion Movie, a very fashionable title nowadays.
Benjamin Seroussi was a mysterious person yet his artistic melancholy was attractive…
Two days after we’ve met I got an invitation from him to take a part in his new project. When I received a script and the project description I agreed to it right away.
Shooting day: call time was 5 am, outside temperature was about plus 3 degrees Celsius. The shooting took place at a plowland near Paris.
I’ve never experienced such a cold, especially when I had to run through the filed barefoot and only swimwear clad. I felt like freezing to death and loosing consciousness. Anticipating the beautiful result of work, that what helped me stay afloat.
My partner, Olivier (and yes, I dubbed him “The salad” after this famous Russian salad called “Olivier”), played the he-bird, and his geometrical costume tore his back to blood in a striking resemblance of Jesus Christ’s back after the flogging. Sometimes he had to stop to remove an occasional wooden splinter from his foot. We felt a deep urge to quit but these emotions were sent to us for a reason.
This discomfort gave us an opportunity to erase the artificially adopted human nature, to understand and to show our true wild selves, based on the survival instinct that comes so natural for animals and birds in their habitat.
Between sky and land, between fear and desire. The purity and freedom, man and woman, yin and yang are the synonyms of this beautiful picture.
Crispy clear images of these two free birds are masterfully supported by the geometry of the costumes. The story of their first encounter, the development of their relationship, emotions of their dance and the feeling of a free flight.
Interpretation of the phrase “love in bird language” was a long-awaited result of our short fashion film magically called PARADOR.
PARADOR was an official participant of ASFOFF FASHION FILM FESTIVAL in Paris. To the much joy of all Seroussi fans a big exhibition of his works was organized in Paris and a first closed screening of the film took place there. Viewers were given a chance to enjoy the video and an opportunity to purchase stills from the set. Honestly, it was a great pleasure to see myself on the big screen. I did not miss the moment to ask Benjamin about the conception of the film, about his creative process and his plans for the future:
First of all, let me congratulate you with such an amazing video project! For me it was definitely a unique experience and unforgettable time to work with such a great team, and personally with you as a director! It’s such a stylish, sophisticated and graphic movie! Tell me please the whole story: how PARADOR’s idea first came to your mind? And what does the PARADOR mean?
PARADOR is about desire and geometry. It shows the complex rules of attraction and repulsion that end up creating energy, shape evolution and anti-gravity.
Inspired by bird parades, Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and his divine proportions, flying mythologies such as Icarus and Daedalus or even Graham Bell’s first tetrahedric constructs. Aeronautics and Golden Ratio are mixed in this short movie to reveal the poetry of love in the immensity of changing skies.
Was it difficult to make it? What were the most unforgettable moments during the process of making the movie?
It was difficult to express what I had in mind, to find ways to create the structures and to make sure they made sense all together.
We can see it’s a game of geometries in the movie… Where all these incredible costumes came from?
I’ve been a bit obsessed with geometry these past years and all the ways it could be represented. I also love to see geometry being seen on the human body.
For this project I asked my friend and collaborator David Tajchman to start a workshop with his assistants to develop various possibilities of costumes using many different materials like metal, paper and wood.
The main influences for making the costumes were early dynamics of the first flying machines, Da Vinci Study drawings and Bird of Paradise wich are also called “shape shifters”.
I know that Parador became a part of Fashion Movie awards in Pompidou, in Paris. What are the next steps? Are you going to present it at other projects, exhibitions, countries?
It was a part of ASVOFF, a fashion film festival that starts in Pompidou and then travels worldwide. We already made an exhibition showing PARADOR and KAPLINSKI in Paris in mid January of 2015 in a gallery showing pictures, videos as well as costumes. Now we are at the cinema, where we are going to present PARADOR on a big screen.
We will try to make the exhibition travel to NY and Shanghai.
Personally, I live with music 24/7. The music for me is one the most important elements to describe the emotions. The soundtrack of PARADOR is very strong and sophisticated, which is true to all short movies and commercials you made. Do you use a composer? And have you ever worked in the music industry before (I definitely see a professional touch)?
The composer I work with is Georges Bacter, he’s a very talented man. We exchanged a lot on this video, I think we have perhaps 20 versions. I am always trying to find with him a balance between a great melody or mood and with a touch of violence brought by the heavy metal noises or the twisted musical instruments. It can’t be too clean and has to match or bring up the video.
Who did the casting of the actors? And what is the most important feature an actor needs to posses to get a part in your movie?
The dancer I met through choreographers I work with. Olivier was someone I’d always wanted to work with.
The lovely Katya Pushkina was an instant crush when I met her though other friends. It’s very hard for me to imagine myself working with an actor or model without meeting them before.
I’ve got a small file at home with people I’ve met, sometimes they are not actors, just interestingly looking people I would like to work with. The other thing I like to find in people is a special skill. It’s always fascinating
to be able to capture years of work and training of someone.
Your work is about exploring new formats and processes. Parador is a perfect example, but I also know you made commercials for Swarovski, LVMH group, Cacharel, See by Chloé, L’oreal, Galeries Lafayette, Martin Margiela, Maxime Simoens, Alexandre Vauthier, Lacoste, L’officiel magazine and Vogue Italia. It’s not easy to combine your personal art taste and your commercial work. What ‘s the key? Do you have your personal brand style?
I love doing both, and both are important and related for me.
The personal work let me explore things and experiment, be in touch with my emotions with no filters.
I never know what I’m going to find until I’m in the editing room. It’s exciting for me to get from a quick drawing in a notebook to the day we’re actually shooting.
I absolutely need to express myself this way at least once a year, it’s what keeps me going.
The commercial work is also very important to me. It’s the way I make a living today.
I also get to work with very skilled and precise people who have very high expectations.
I very much like to be challenged, and commissioned projects are great for that. I develop my taste and skill making my personal projects and then use it on a bigger scale in the commissioned projects.
Your latest work was for KERASTASE campaign with Russian prima ballet dancer Diana Vishneva. Was it hard to work with her?
I loved that project. It felt like a personal project. Diana wasn’t so sure of what I was doing with my shaky cameras and flashing moving lights but after she watched a couple of shots I saw a big smile on her face and she started to trust me.
The choreographer of this project was Caroline Carlson, she’s amazing and is very close to Diana.
All your videos are incredible. It goes without saying that you are a super talented person. Tell us about your plans and what do you expect from the year 2015?
Thanks a lot Katya, First project of 2015 is the exhibition in Paris. After that I will work on a fiction project involving architecture with David Tajchman.
Benjamin Seroussi & David Tajchman at the opening of exhibition PARADOR
You are successful and experienced in your industry. Can you please share with us a secret to your success and give a few advises to those who dream to work in fashion and film industry?
Thank you very much, I guess…
I think that the most important thing is to never give up on what you believe in and what you want to be doing in life. It took years to do what I do. Today I work with people who a couple of years ago thought I should’ve been pursuing another job.
No one will ever be convinced that you’re good at something other than yourself, I don’t believe in magic that makes you a genius in one day. There are great talents or stimulating collaborations but I think it’s all in us.
Katya Pushkina and Benjamin Seroussi special for F.A.C.T.S.