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Interview with Mikros Image CEO Gilles Gaillard

On the occasion of the ParisFX French Showcase for Creative Week 2013, we’ve interviewed French studio Mikros Image CEO Gilles Gaillard, who will be presenting some of the most innovative and creative works in digital arts and VXF at a special event celebrating digital advertising and post-production arts on May 7th (more information here).

Laura Pertuy: Can you tell us about the projects Mikros will showcase at Paris FX during the Creative Week?

Gilles Gaillard: We have been fortunate to work on really great projects over the past years. Mikros Image was born 28 years ago and we are still really very excited to deliver amazing films. We will showcase a selection of our last works. Some of them are currently making ad history, like the last “Baby & me” Evian crazy buzzing on YouTube these days, or did get the attention of the community last year. Canal+ "The Bear" has reached n°1 position of gunn report, a n°1 of all time -since the creation of the report- making this ad the most awarded... of all time. Along with the crafting recognition received for numerous projects around the world, we will share recent images we cooked in Animation, digital retouching, matte painting: we wish to please everyone... and attract the attention of the most demanding New Yorkers !

LP: What are the latest projects for Mikros in the film and advertising industries?

GG: The diversity of projects we work on makes it hard to pick specific ones. In the film industry, we complete roughly 40 feature films per year. Last year we worked on the visual effects of Michael Haneke’s Amour or Rust and bones by Jacques Audiard. This year The congress by Ari Folman will open the director's fortnight in Cannes Festival and a sweet selection of 6 other films we have been working on have been selected in the international competition. It is always really exciting when films reach their very first audience in such a great environment.

In the ad industry we can add to the previous quoted ones the "Dior j'adore" ad or the "Nissan Juke build to thrill", also the very absurd "Orangina Cannonball & Pigeon" campaign. We recently collaborated to make an other funny WWF campaign, and we created the talking squirrels in one of this year superbowl ad "Toyota rav 4 Wish granted" with Eight VFX, our local partner here in US. Eight VFX did complete an amazing list of projects this year including Twix "Ideologies".

More generally speaking, we focus on delivering the very next projects. We opened our feature animation studio last year in Paris, this year in Montréal, and we have a smooth lineup of 3 features to deliver by the first semester of 2015. A move we long awaited for since "Logorama" received the Oscar in 2010. 

LP: What's the main difference between working for a movie and working for a commercial?

GG: Well... an ad is a craft that must generate sales, making a movie is an art aiming at changing the world ! Or is it the opposite ? I think duration is the main difference. Making a feature film takes a lot of time. The main skill remains the same however : translate ! Translate an idea to the final moving image / sound.

LP: Mikros has an American branch, Eight VFX, in Los Angeles. Does the company work on a lot of American projects ? Do you think Mikros will further expand in the USA?

GG: Eight VFX has been our partner in the US since 2008. Eight VFX was created in 2005 in Santa Monica with a simple philosophy – let craftsmanship and artistry be the guide. As relentless champions of this core belief, Baptise Andrieux & Jean Marc Demmer, the two co-founders, have been delivering ads and pixel magic for film in the US since more than 15 years now. They have build unique relations with creators and delivered amazing piece in their boutique size offices. Eight opened an office in NY last year, a piece of news we are happy to share at the creative week! We, as Mikros Image, are supporting their development because we want our partners to be strong in their market, the best option to build an attractive community around our know-how. Their unique "boutique" set-up is supported by our industrial capacity and long time collaboration: ambitious projects are very welcome. Eight VFX’s supreme commitment to craft, to details and to innovation has attracted directors such as Tom Kuntz, Rocky Morton, Brian Beletic, Mr Hide, Stacy Wall, Sam Bayer, Bryan Buckley, Olivier Gondry, David Lynch, James Mangold, Jospeph Kahn, Paul Hunter, Ruben Fleischer, Jonas Akerlund, and Francis Lawrence, among others. Recently, Eight has put its personal stamp on commercial for clients such as Prius, Carl’s Jr, Adidas, Hahn Beer, Converse, HP (the now iconic “hands” campaigns), BMW, T-Mobile, Spring, Bavaria Beer, LUX, Fidelity, Avon, among a slew of national and international brands. For instance, in features they’ve completed 50+ CG shots for Academy Award Nominated director James Mangold’s 2010 summer blockbuster Knight and Day.

LP: A Tribeca panelist recently said it was now almost impossible to make films like in the 70s. Do you believe the place of visual effects will expand dramatically in the film industry in the coming years? 

GG: Lot of things did change over the past 40 years. The culture of visual storytelling has moved from an edgy / expert position to a common practice. Cameras, editing and publishing tools are in everybody's palm now. The basic know how for creating moving image has been spreading fast, sometimes bringing confusion on how easy it would be to build an engaging film / spot. To me, we are entering a very promising stage where the "self experiment" practice brings so much noise that emerging from crowd takes us back to the basics : chasing the right emotion and using the wide palette of crafting for this, from scriptwriting to delivery, and visual effects have a lot to contribute in this field!