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The Work That Made Me: Grégory Ohrel

Quad director Greg Ohrel shares his favourite ads from his childhood and how a non-official music video for Kanye West and Jay-Z changed his career

The Work That Made Me: Grégory Ohrel

Paris-based director, Grégory Ohrel has a passion for experimenting with live-action storytelling. Through his work on music videos he developed an uncanny ability to find new and innovative ways to use the camera, earning recognition from the Grammy Awards, among others. From his use of creative perspectives and clever transitions, to the mesmerising use of effects, Grégory finds a way to breathe life into every frame.

The ad/music video from my childhood that stays with me… 

I have two immediately coming to mind. And trust me, I have seen millions of commercials since I was watching TV all day when I was a kid, as long as I could, until my parents would freak out and force me out to play in the sun aha! 

The first one was a commercial for unbreakable glasses: 

The rhythm of the edit, the cinematographic quality of the shots and of the VFX (for that time) were amazing. It has something very 90’s and at the same time, it’s still good to watch. 

The second one is for the Chanel perfume called Egoiste: 

They did another one that was also cool and choreographed, with women opening their shutters in perfect synchronicity, shouting the name of the perfume... But I always preferred this one, with the guy fighting with his own shadow. 

I always felt these commercials were way cooler than the ones for kids, it was more impressive and it was making me feel like I was watching a movie! 

The ad/music video/game/web platform that made me want to get into the industry… 

In school, next to me, was a girl who was a huge Martin Scorsese fan. So after a year of sitting next to her, I was an expert in his work. My favourite one was Casino, and I was starting to think that directing films like that would be a hell of a job. This is the moment I started considering directing as a real job. Thanks to my friend and to Mr Scorsese! 

The creative work that I keep revisiting… 

90s music videos. Gondry, Cunningham, Spike Jonze... I really see that time as a kind of 'golden age' of music videos. All directors had their own very personal style, they all created very different masterpieces. I can watch Gondry’s videos for the White Stripes, the one of Chris Cunningham for Aphex Twin, or Jonze for Fat Boy Slim over and over. 

My first professional project… 

A music video for an artist coming from my own town, veeeery low budget but still fun to shoot. Let’s say it was half professional, half amateur since the 'crew' was mostly made of friends.

The piece of work made me so angry that I vowed to never make anything like *that*… 

You mean something I hate so much I don’t want to direct anything that could look like that? I would say all the French sitcoms from the 90’s with the fake laugh etc. And on a more political aspect American Sniper from Clint Eastwood. There is something I don’t like in the patriotism it portrays and also how he made his character a hero, justifying war and killings. 

The piece of work that still makes me jealous… 

Every feature film! Or almost ahah! I am so busy with music videos and commercials that I don’t take the time to write a short or a feature film but since feature films were my first love and brought me into the world of directing, I should definitely do one. I hope one day soon! Or even a super cool TV show! The last two I really liked were Tales from the Loop and Too Old to Die Young. 

The creative project that changed my career… 

I shot a non-official music video for Kanye West and Jay-z song Ni**as in Paris. We really loved the song and decided to bring our own vision of that track to life. We did it and it got quite popular on social media. Famous french rapper Booba saw it, loved it, and we finally got to work with him. It definitely helped my career take a professional turn. 

The work that I’m proudest of… 

None of them, and all of them! It might be stupid but I consider all of them as my babies. So even if some of them may be prettier or wittier, I know all the effort I put in all of these to bring them to life, so I can say that I love them all. Even if I mostly see their defects when I watch them back ahaha. 

I was involved in this and it makes me cringe… 

I seem to always propose scenes linked to the actors’ phobia, without even knowing it! And they always tell me about it AFTER it’s done... Like putting people afraid of heights very high on building edges, putting people in a coffin when they are afraid of death, having a vegetarian close to meat etc. I always feel extremely guilty when they tell me about it as the scene is over... They usually feel like they overcame their fears though, but I feel like I am a monster aha! 


The recent project I was involved in that excited me the most… 

The previous projects I did are already in the past to me so I can’t get so excited about them, but I am very excited about the next ones, especially one that I might shoot in Puerto Rico in barios rarely filmed.

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