IN FIVE YEARS TIME
IN FIVE YEARS TIME
A Conversation with Filmmaker Benoit Lalande
INTERVIEW BY TOMMY MOORE
PHOTOS BY BENOIT LALANDE
Originally from Quebec City, Benoit Lalande started out shooting any action sports his hometown had to offer. Hungry for new experiences, the young director moved to California to attend college and jump-start his career. Today, Ben is known for his elegant style and high energy films.
His images evoke mystery and ingenuity, and his editing and cinematography skills make him one damn versatile director. Despite his young age, he has 3 Vimeo staff picks under his belt and has traveled to over 20 countries. His clients include Red Bull, WSL, Coors, Disney, Air Canada, and others. DAYBREAK Editor-in-Chief Tommy Moore sat down with Benoit to talk about his creative process, his approach to filmmaking, and what he’s hoping the future holds.
Tommy Moore : When it comes to your creative process, do you start with an idea you’re pursuing or are you primarily working with clients and then formulating around their general art direction?
Benoit Lalande: It’s a mix of both. With the projects I’m most passionate about, I’ll usually start building a concept from scratch. But when working for most of my clients, they’ll usually have some sort of direction they want to follow. That said, I often find a lot of my inspiration from different industries and try to use that in surfing. I love working on surf films, because it seems like the creative industry within that sport is still quite unexplored.
TM: Thinking about it, growing up I would always see ski and snowboarding films rather than surf films, and it never made sense to me. It seems like those were pioneered first.
BL: Everything in that industry is still kind of unexplored. Because of that, it’s easy to make a change and create your own style. Whereas if you try to do that with anything like a car or fashion commercial, everything’s been done in those industries already. Surfing is still a bit of a blank canvas.
TM: It seems like fashion, auto, and perfume, are always the three that get to take more of a cinematic approach. I can definitely see the combination of the two, because you do a good job capturing the action and buildup aspects from ski films, but then also showing it in a way that feels like a cinematic movie trailer.
BL: People have said that before about my work and I take it as a bit of constructive criticism. I love short, impactful pieces, but at the same time, I want some of my work to be more impactful and a little bit longer.
TM: In that regard, what in your eyes makes a Benoit Lalande film a Benoit Lalande film?
BL: It’s hard to really put my finger on exactly what it is I want to do with all my work. I definitely want to transmit some sort of unique, in-your-face energy, but I’m still really young and dabbling with different styles and industries. If I were 45 years old and had won dozens of film festivals it’d be easy for me to really put my finger on what my style is, but right now I’m still exploring all of that.
TM: Are there one or two filmmakers or photographers out there that you’re pulling from a lot?
BL: I definitely separate the photo inspiration from the video inspiration. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Woody G. He has some really cool composition and color in all of his photos, and I pull a lot of inspiration from him. He’s definitely one of my favorites.
When it comes to video, there are so many great directors. A couple names that come to mind are Dexter Navy and Natalie Canguilhem who have worked with various fashion brands and rappers.
TM: Are you making the stuff right now that you expected to be making now four or five years ago?
BL: Oh yeah, absolutely. It’s crazy looking back and being like, “Wait, I’m doing what I was dreaming about doing just a few years ago”. I’m achieving all my goals and that I’m where I want to be, but when I look at where I am now, it’s definitely a reflection of where I wanted it to be a couple years ago. Now, I’m really hoping that where I want to be in four or five years is actually where I end up. I think always wanting more is kind of a double-edged sword. You want to be satisfied with your work and enjoy your workflow, but at the same time you have to not like it enough to want to improve upon it. It’s this weird balance between being stoked on your work, but not too stoked.
TM: It’s a weird mental game to play too, because it gets dangerous when you’re too far in either direction. Why do you do it all in general?
BL: I mean, it’s just fun. When it comes to surfing, you’re traveling with people who’ve been around the world. They end up as your personal tour guide. They know all the locals, they know all the spots, and as soon as you become friends with someone who’s super connected, your circle gets so much larger.
TM: You’re spot on about finding the right person, because your whole world gets unlocked then. This whole new world of people, and places, and friends.
BL: You definitely have to be lucky. Those people who are very connected and kind of in line with what you do are really hard to find. For the longest time I was trying so hard to find that one person, and I wasn’t satisfied with where I was. I think eventually life just kind of sets you up. I believe everything happens for a reason, and eventually life will put you in the right path. When I say that, pushing you in the right path, I really mean meeting the right people. You grow through your relationships with other people.
TM: Creatively, too, it’s so easy to work in your own bubble. Both your own personal bubble and your bubble of people around you. Things start to get stale without you really knowing it.
BL: For sure. If you don’t know anyone in the industry you want to work in, you’re not going to get work. You’re not going to get people’s attention. You need to make your way into the network of people who do what you want to do, and eventually you’ll be getting work.