The Directors: Thibault Dumoulin
Thibault Dumoulin is an award winning director fascinated by people who have a passion for life. Raised in the South West of France and living between Ireland and Biarritz, he spends most of his time surfing and sailing when he is not filming.
His passion for sports, nature, travels and real people brings a true authenticity to his films. As a former creative director Thibault also has a great sense of aesthetic and beauty.
Thibault has worked for brands such as Azzaro, Addidas, NIKON, JO2016, HP, or Sosh and directed music videos for Citizens! Feder (with millions of views) and Hollysiz among others.
Name: Thibault Dumoulin
Repped by: Quad (FR) and Couscous (US)
Awards: Best Director and BMVA, Best international video clip at Bogota, vimeo staff pick
What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of scripts get you excited to shoot them?
Life today. I'm excited by emotional pieces trying to show how curious and exciting humans and the real world are. Also I love daring projects, anything related to adventure or with a crazy idea.
How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?
I always think about the story first, even if it's a more conceptual script. Then, I look for striking visuals, but it has to make sense.
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?
I increasingly try to work only with brands and markets whose values I'm comfortable with. I think that it's always better to be on the same page, for the brands and for the directors.
For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?
They are all important, making a commercial is a team effort. It is very important to understand the client's needs, the creatives first vision, to have a solid and trustful relationship with the producers, a strong artistic shared vision with the dp, a similar pace with the editor, eye sensitivity with the colour grade artist etc. It's a card castle.
What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?
Well, I like narrative pieces, I actually just wrote my first feature film scenario. I always try to tell a strong story and make it look authentic.
What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?
Very often people think that my work is too awesome, I like to remind them I'm only human :(
What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?
A thousand things can go wrong on a shoot. A few examples : frozen waterfall, wild animals not in a working mood, knocked out athlete, stuck in a storm in the ocean, got robbed, a crazy night in Vegas... But we always find a solution and I'm still alive.
How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?
It is always a fine line to find. Making the best film possible is the best way to make everyone happy.
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?
Yes, it is very important, creativity needs people from every kind of background. I was actually not supposed to become a director, I grew up in a small town dreaming about becoming a reporter. In my head, being a film director was only a job for rich kids. And I learnt the trade thanks to open minded and welcoming people. I will mentor too eventually.
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?
Yes big time, I changed my mindset with this crisis. I spent the first year of this pandemic in a very small surfing town off the west coast of Ireland to refocus on what I wanted to achieve. I am now back in France with a lot of new projects that I'm proud of: a film, a photo book and some new business perspectives. It is impossible to know now how deeply this crisis is going to change, affect us. But I can already feel the first effects on me.
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)?
It really depends on the project, I still think a lot in 16/9 but I am very used to doing the crazy stretch to 9/16. We just have to shoot more material but it's not a big deal, we grew up with the Internet, so we are used to. I quite like to play with new square medium formats as well, easy to use in every kind of platform and quite cinematic.
What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?
I must say I am a vintage guy. I still shoot analog photography, always suggest to shoot in 35mm , prefer real edgy locations than studio and CGI's, love instrumental music... But I'm aware of what's going on, no worries.
Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?