Words: William Guillon
Exclusive Interview with Stephane B of Clash Production
For a few years now I remember seeing incredible drifting and car event videos on forums, made by a true enthusiast named Clash Production. The name may sound familiar to many of you by now. Recently, I had the pleasure to interview Stephane, the man behind it all. So sit back, relax, and enjoy a little insight into the inner workings of this leading videography team.
AMF: Hi Stephane, for those who do not know you, can you tell us who you are?
- Hi William, I’m Stephen, I’m 30, I live in Paris (France) and I am a film-maker and founder of Clash Production.
AMF: Can you tell us the story of Clash Production?
- Well, Clash Production first began in 2003 when I started filming my friends during track days. From the beginning, I was always both behind the camera filming and behind my computer editing. Then, with more and more Drift and Time Attack events in Europe from 2005 to 2007, it has grown quickly. But before Clash Production, I started filming as an assistant in the late 90′s on various film sets in Paris.
AMF: Nowadays, who and what is Clash Production?
- Clash Production now represents nearly 40-million views on the internet, about 340 videos made and 40 tv shows. The majority of our productions are overseas. We were lucky with my team to spend six months in Dubai and to film in Japan, Los Angeles, Norway, Italy and many in England. I still make all the videos and do all the post-production. There is always at least one team member who comes with me on a shoot abroad, helped by local teams that I find there. Clients are often communication agencies which work for car manufacturers such as Audi, Porsche, Nismo or Lotus for example.
AMF: What technique / gear do you use?
- It depends on the project, customer demand and distribution. I have just finished a commercial for a car manufacturer shot with a Red camera: this choice was made depending budget and logistics (short time to shoot), and as it will be only for a web use. For two years now, I shoot a lot with the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 7D. From 2005 to 2009, I used HDV cameras with or without 35mm kit. The most important is to work with a good director of photography, to have good lenses and being surrounded by a good team. When editing, I use an Avid Media Composer station, but I also have Final Cut Pro and After Effects for some projects shot with my Canon EOS cameras. The sound is very important especially in racing, so I use high quality microphones.
AMF: What are you looking for in your videos?
- I’m looking to never make the same video twice. Sometimes human aspect on a race interests me more than cars themselves. But I am very concerned by the technological aspect of motorsport.
AMF: The video scene just like photography, has grown significantly in recent years. As a filmmaker, what is your feeling on the international scene?
- The appearance of photo camera that allow to film in HD quality has changed the game on the international stage. At a racing event, you now have the official video, live, sometimes a TV report, but often it is the non-accredited “amateur” that gets the more original video. Showing your work has never been so easy now, facilitated through YouTube,Vimeo, DailyMotion and StreetFire. Some providers even offer simple video editing tools. It has never been easier to be a “film-maker” and share your work.
AMF: Where do you get your inspiration in your work?
- Music inspires me a lot, I never leave for a shoot without some music from Phoenix, Daft Punk and Sebastien Tellier or movies like “Le Mans” and “Burt Munroe”. I listen to a lot of different kind of music, as I love to watch movies made by Bertrand Blier or Michael Mann. Recently I took a big blow watching “Valhalla Rising” and the last “Pusher”. “Bronson” and “Drive” movies have confirmed Nicolas Winding Refn’s talent. Filmmakers like Gaspar Noé, Philippe Lioret or Audiard are also very rewarding. But I could also speak for hours about Italian cinema, Spielberg, De Palma, Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Fincher… I liked recently “Super 8”, and watched again “Gonnies” and “Cocoon”. Have you listened to the soundtrack made by artist Sebastian “Notre Jour viendra” (“Redheads”)? Magnificent. Work of the French artist JR is also fascinating. Right now, we are listening the last M83 and Justice in the office during editing.
AMF: What are your current and future projects?
- I am finishing the last edit for Audi Competition department and I am working on the last part of an experimental project which is called “Titan”. A sort of homage to motorsport started with images of Le Mans and music from Team Ghost. Then I’ll be able to devote myself to the pre-production of two fiction projects. But what interest me most are unexpected meetings with people with a passion, that’s what it makes you go further in your work.
AMF: Where can we follow your work to make sure not to miss a video?
AMF: Finally, if you had to choose three videos in all those you have made, which ones would you choose and why?
- If you don’t mind, I’ll pick 9 of 350 videos, it is my interview right? (laugh)
- I was free on this set. It was hard, I made everything to get the accreditation, and finally the video was shown on Top Gear, Autoblog and Speedhunters.
- This is the first time a brand is asking me to make a full “Clash Production” video. The agency wanted it to be a different car production. In addition, it was filmed on the Nürburgring, awesome!
- This video summarizes the past six months to film the sports car scene but also the passion from this people from the middle-east. Yas Marina is a very good memory.
- A series of three films made in Jerez with Porsche and Toyo Tires. The customer let me free to do all I wanted.
- First shoot in Los Angeles in 2008, the tripod had been blocked in France at the airport, I was filming with 17kgs on the arms, and I camera cut off at the end of the top 16. Here too the achievement to get accreditation has not been easy. In the end, the film was posted on the Formula D’s website.
- When the agency contacted me, I was in Dubai, they said that Mercedes Benz MiddleEast offer us 2 hours with the new SLS AMG to make a movie, no preparation, no team, just an assistant. We went to the desert and the film made a big buzz in Dubai. Very good experience.
- In 2008 I filmed a lot with my team the UK drift scene, this video shot in Silverstone is my first realization to cross 3 million views between Streefire and Youtube.
- A video shot on this beautiful racetrack with a different vision of sports car, Titan’s movie will be very close to this video.
- A film made with my buddies product on my own, made in 3 days with well-known actors in the drift scene in France. It was more for fun, but it made the front page of DailyMotion, StreetFire, SpeedHunters, and Fubiz with the preview (http://www.fubiz.net/2010/04/01/vernal-equinox/)