Pierre Andurand is President and CEO of Angénieux. We spoke at Cannes the day before the big Angénieux event to honor Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC. This year, Angénieux was a sponsor and partner of the Cannes Film Festival.
JON FAUER: Why is Angénieux at Cannes?
PIERRE ANDURAND: The question should be, “Why have we not been part of Cannes before?” That was my first impression when I arrived to manage the company one and a half years ago. Although Angénieux is a small company, it has a long and rich history in cinema—more than 75 years. Cannes is a very big international festival, and it took some time to discuss our participation with the festival organizers and with our parent Thales group. But this was important because Cannes represents an image we share about our company and the products we are developing and manufacturing for the cinema industry.
A large part of our success comes from the proximity we have with our users. Many helped us understand their requirements, needs, and the kind of products they would like us to develop. You don’t always find this proximity to cinematographers, directors, operators, assistants and rental houses at an exhibition like NAB or IBC. Cannes is a very important festival where we can have direct contact with a lot of people coming from all over the world.
JON FAUER: Were these users influential in your decision to make anamorphic zooms? You showed the new Angénieux Optimo Anamorphic Zoom at the CST reception on Thursday.
PIERRE ANDURAND: Our new anamophic zooms are very compact, lightweight, and have a range of focal lengths that will allow the user to shoot many setups a day, very rapidly. But our foremost intention was to provide cinematographers with a lens that will help them make movies in ‘Scope.
The rental companies have been in direct contact with some of the users, provided feedback and advice. Particularly in Hollywood. What surprised us was the large number of orders for this product. We did not expect such a big success.
JON FAUER: Why not? I thought anamorphic has historically been the next big thing after each wave of 3D?
PIERRE ANDURAND: Anamorphic was forecast to be a niche market. I had a feeling when I arrived that it would be bigger than that. I didn’t understand why people were saying it’s a niche product. The idea was a lens that users could afford, that would be easy to use, and practical. It was really something new. If you compare it to the anamorphic lenses of the past, when you wanted to shoot in ‘Scope, most of the zooms were very large and heavy. So our new lens was welcomed, not only in America and France, but also worldwide.
JON FAUER: Why do you think that is? What’s the reason?
PIERRE ANDURAND: Probably because today filmmakers want to make movies that can differentiate them from the films made by their colleagues. That means working with artful compositions, which you can do in ‘Scope more often than in standard format. From my point of view, it is also more difficult for the DP.
JON FAUER: More difficult to shoot in anamorphic?
PIERRE ANDURAND: Yes, to learn how to shoot in ‘Scope. It requires more experience, so it’s something aspirational as well. What can differentiate one film from the next? If you’re the director, it’s the ability to tell a great story. For the cinematographer, it’s surely the possibility to build images in a different artful manner. . This will result in bringing different emotions. But you are a cinematographer, so you can probably understand this best.
JON FAUER: Agreed. Lenses distinguish cinematographers.
PIERRE ANDURAND: I’m pleased to see that Angénieux now is in a position to provide all filmmakers with all kinds of lenses. Personally, what I want to see is a beautiful movie on a big screen with a beautiful image. And I really think that the lens is one of the biggest components of the final result.
JON FAUER: Tell me a little bit about tomorrow’s events at Cannes.
PIERRE ANDURAND: When we were invited to become a sponsor of the Cannes Festival, we realized that we had to do something not for Angénieux but something that would celebrate the competence of the Director of Photography — something that had not yet been sufficiently exposed to light.
JON FAUER: That’s interesting. I just realized that there is no ‘Best Cinematography” category in the Cannes Festival.
PIERRE ANDURAND: In France generally and in Cannes particularly. There has been some recognition in the past. But it’s a pity, because when you look at the Academy and in Hollywood it’s clear that the cinematographers are honored. I think that the DP is among the most important people on a movie. Of course, you have the producers, writer, director and actors. But the DP is the essential one to help the director moves the images from script to screen and to do incredible things with light.
And why should we have all those people and this big event here in Cannes and nothing about the DP? So we met with the festival organizers and said, “Okay, we would like to be a sponsor, but it’s very important for us to do something for the profession and the people we are working with. The idea was to give a lifetime achievement award, to bestow an honor. We did not want to enter into some sort of competition with a jury. We began with a list of more than 60 cinematographers at the start.
Philippe Rousselot was chosen. I’m very pleased because everybody said that this was a fantastic choice. Philippe Rousselot is very international. He’s a French guy, who spent a big part of his career in the United States and elsewhere and worked with a lot of important directors and stars.
JON FAUER: Some of whom will help present the award?
PIERRE ANDURAND: Yes. We see this as a really big event. Following the award, we will have a dinner off the Croisette with them. We want to associate Directors with DPs.
JON FAUER: Like a wine pairing: fine directors with fine DPs.
PIERRE ANDURAND: Tomorrow, we will climb the red carpeted stairs, have a reception, and then present the award to Philippe Rousselot. Some of the Directors and Actors he has worked with will introduce him. We have invited Directors John Boorman and Stephen Frears. Actors are coming from abroad. This is a celebration of a DP. We put aside Angénieux; it’s not a marketing event.
It is going to be highly emotional for Philippe Rousselot. He will have some surprises when he sees all the people we have invited.
JON FAUER: Who else will be there tomorrow?
PIERRE ANDURAND: It still depends on schedules and other screenings. But, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Victoria Abril, Jean Marc Barr, Carmen Chaplin…many people will be with us at the dinner and the after-party. I also hope Guillaume Canet, . who is a very famous actor and a director here in France, and is married to Marion Cotillard, will come. He’s in competition in Cannes with the movie Blood Ties, which was shot in New York with Angénieux optics.
I think Philippe is seen as one of the DPs who has contributed a lot in terms of changing the standards. Breaking out new ideas and innovating. He has been taking risks and it has been clearly successful.
The spectrum of Philippe Rousselot’s work is wide. There is a great variation in terms of his styles. He’s not somebody who has been only defining one way to shoot and only one way. This is interesting and I suppose this is part of his appeal and the recognition he receives from his colleagues.
JON FAUER: Yes. And it’s also interesting that he’s done a lot of anamorphic movies, including Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It, for which he received a Best Cinematography Oscar.
PIERRE ANDURAND: I really hope that this will be a beautiful evening for everybody. I’m already looking forward to next year.