A conversation between Pauline Chalamet and Frederic Monceau
A conversation between Pauline Chalamet and Frederic Monceau.
Fred to Pauline : You live between New York and Paris. What would you borrow from these two cultures if you had to create one in-between?
This question. Ha! It’s tricky. I’ll make it short: I would take my life in Paris and sprinkle hardworking, positive, no-bulllshit New York energy in my work. And I would add a few coffee breaks.
Pauline to Fred : Your work has brought you EVERYWHERE from Los Angeles to Moscow and New York to Bangkok, where you had your latest exhibition. I assume as work starts to pick up again you will start to travel again. Where do you feel the most inspired to create your work? Has Covid-19 changed any of the ways in which you think about your work?
It is true that I have traveled a lot and I feel like a citizen of the world. Honestly, Los Angeles has a special energy that makes me want to create more. I love living in Paris, the lights are beautiful, the lifestyle is calmer. People have this artistic dimension and it is a city that is international enough to create great projects. But Paris doesn't have the energy you can find in Los Angeles or London. In Los Angeles, every street is cinematically interesting. Covid-19 and the overall world situation today hasn't really changed the way I work. I think the creative process remains the same. The conditions under which we have to create have changed because there are certain rules to be observed but the main subject of creation remains the same. I think we have to learn to live with new things that were unknown before, we must not completely change the way we do things, but just be able to adapt and evolve by protecting our creativity.
Fred to Pauline : I first met you after a play reading you did at the Studio Théâtre d’Asnières a few years ago. Are you still passionate about theater now that the cinema is more present in your life? How do you relate to these two disciplines ?
The first play I saw after quarantine was Littoral by Wajdi Mouawad at La Colline in Paris. The play starts with chairs coming down from the ceiling and then a monologue by a young woman. I cried as soon as the actress opened her mouth to speak. Really cried. In that moment I realized that I had terribly missed the power of live storytelling over the past few months. Something about the sharing and exchanging and listening that is just…unlike anything else. I am preemptively excited for the next opportunity to be on stage. In terms of how I relate to these two mediums… I don’t think much has changed. I only feel like I’m learning more with every project. In film I am awed by all of the moving pieces that come together to tell a story. I feel that the energy loop is more intimate. In theater much of the work is done in the rehearsal process and by the time you’re on stage in front of an audience you are playing, the story is yours to share in the present moment. It is a great gift.
Pauline to Fred : I’ve had the honor of experiencing first hand the comforting energy you exude behind your lens in the studio. Have you ever thought of moving from still photographs to le septième art ?
More and more, I want to make movies ! To tell a story. The cinema offers incredible possibilities that I can't wait to explore. I also have the intuition that we will work together one day! You know what I think about you Pauline and it would be an honor if you could play in something I create. The direction of photography in a film is so important. I love films that have a particular aesthetic. I love the work of Darius Khondji, Christopher Doyle or Steven Soderbergh. I would love to work on the artistic and photographic direction of a film or direct my own feature film. I still have time! Let's see where life takes me.
Fred to Pauline : I know you are a person committed to equality and justice. The past few years, the industry has been shaken with the #MeToo movement. How do you feel today as a woman in the film industry ?
I think things are changing and more progress needs to be made. The movement is helping me be more aware of what it’s like to be a woman in this industry and in society generally. It’s helping me find courage to speak up and out and apologize less for doing so. I like to use this image: Power is a circle of men holding hands at the top of a mountain and all women (Black women, women of color, trans women, ALL womxn) need access to reach the peek. Once we get there, men have to let go of each other’s hands, give us a little room and let us find our place in the circle. Power must be shared, and the status quo will change. I think most men want a fair and just society but don’t realize that there is work they need to do. There’s often a lack of awareness of how they, perhaps unknowingly, play into the status quo.
Pauline to Fred : I know that you have worked with Rose McGowan who has courageously spoken out about her experience(s) of abuse and about the sexism that abounds in the film industry. What do you think about the role of men in this fight for justice?
I love Rose and have been fortunate enough to work with her. I am proud that she managed to find the energy to speak and fight. She is an example and an incredible woman ! The situation of women in the film or fashion industry does not only concern women but concerns everyone! We should be all concerned by fighting for justice and making the world better. There should be no gender in the struggle for equality and justice and we should live in a world where the feminist does not need to exist. Unfortunately, things are not perfect and the fight for rights and equality is not over. Regarding men, they must take their responsibilities and get out of their comfort zones to change the situation. Men should no longer be silent. Defending the rights of women in the entertainment industry is about defending the rights of women in all industries. We have a duty to set an example. Men must dissociate themselves from inappropriate behavior, they must be a support, listen and talk.
Fred to Pauline : You always have a book with you when I see you ! What are you currently reading and what would you recommend to me?
My favorite question! Currently I’m reading two books: Ingmar Bergman’s autobiography Laterna Magica and Iris Brey’s Le Regard Féminin (but just so you don’t think I only read literature related to cinema, last week I finished Homegoing by Cynthia Voigt and Hugo’s Les Misérables which I had started this summer). A book you should read, Freddy, is James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room. I think you’re really going to enjoy that. And then we can talk about it. Like a book club!
Pauline to Fred : Has a piece of literature ever inspired your artwork?
I think inspiration comes from a multitude of different things that surround us or that are internal to us. The literature and the various books I have read have impacted me and helped create the person I am. Literature therefore logically influenced me in my work and inspired me because it outlined my personality like many other art forms that I have encountered (cinema, painting, etc.). I don't know if some books have inspired me more than others, but I can share some of my favorite books with you (I only know the french titles versions) ! I would say, “confidences à allah” of Saphia Azzeddine, “le sumo qui ne voulait pas grossir” of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, “Jonathan Livingston – le Goéland” of Richard Bach, etc.
Fred to Pauline : What is your definition of art?
I think my answer to this will always be different. Right now I’ll say that I think art is anything that calls upon the use of imagination to bring humans together.
Pauline to Fred : What is your definition of art?
Art is an extension of our soul that collides with society. Art is an essential part of a successful life. art has this exceptional and particular capacity to be able to express the indescribable. It allows the awakening of the senses and allows you to feel alive, rather than just survive. If we take a step back and talk about art in the conceptual sense of the term, we can say that art is essential and what makes human “human”.