After releasing their final film, the guys behind this fan-favorite French film crew open up about the struggles a small production company faces in a changing industry.
The final Gpsy Feelin film is being released this fall, sad news for fans of this highly creative French crew. Their last, meticulously edited film mixes great urban and backcountry skiing with an original soundtrack in collaboration with a French music label. Carried by quotes from a philosophic interview that lull the spectator into introspection, Cruise Control is the last of a great series of Gpsy Feelin films.
Interview: David Malacrida
It’s Saturday morning at the High Five festival after a rowdy opening-night party, and surprisingly Yann Barthelemy, 29, and Jeremy Feburier, 35, are in good shape. Since what’s supposedly their final film as Gpsy Feelin is debuting here at the festival, there’s not better time to talk with Yann and Jeremy about Gpsy’s past present, and future.
After a few minutes of pleasantries, I press the record button, and it’s on.
What happened last night?
Yann: I walked to the Bowl night club but I didn’t have the all-access pass, so I couldn’t get in. Anyway I’m too old for that shit. We don’t go out to clubs often, but we did one epic one in Japan where Jérémy was rolling on the floor.
Jeremy: We don’t do it often, but we when do, we do it right.
How was Japan?
Y: There was so much snow, and seeing that for the first time was insane. It was the first time for me. Our whole crew went there this season.
Was Japan affordable for you?
Y: It was the only trip that we spent much money on last season. Besides that, we only skied in Switzerland or in Italy where we could find free tickets and accommodations with the ski resort. We didn’t travel that much.
J: We were already working with a tight budget even in Europe, so in Japan it was even more complicated, even though we were well-welcomed there.
Y: It was truly money well spent because of the experience. Eating healthy food, sleeping on tatami mats, etc. We all went there together, eight guys.
J: We learned how to identify everyone’s unique snores.
You had to work with a tight budget although your previous film was a success.
Y: Our biggest partners followed us, but we had to stop with a couple of others that didn’t want to reach our minimum. We did the movie with just three sponsors and the same budget as last year.
J: Even less.
Y: Yes, we can say that it’s lame [laughs]. Last season we got a emotional pump, an ego boost. We saw that people liked the movie, so we went for it again, and tried to make the movie we really wanted to make. That was the problem, because even with all the motivation… if the season had been good, it could have worked, but the guys had to ski and jump on hard snow all season long. Everyone says that to do a good movie you should add emotion, tell a story etc. – you can do a lot of things, but in our dynamic, we needed more financial support for traveling. We didn’t want to do the movie for free.
Talking about that, can you pay yourself?
J: Paying ourselves would be a lot to say. We don’t do it totally as volunteers, but we also have to buy a lot of gear to stay on top.
Y: On top of the bottom [laughs], we are on top of the DSLR. But we are not really frustrated about our situation.
J: We have the faith.
I have the feeling it’s always the same story. Starting as an amateur you don’t care much, and growing up you start to expect more.
Y: The problem when you start as a rookie production is to be stuck in the situation where the sponsors don’t understand when you ask for more money for a new project.
Is there is a point when the passion is not enough anymore?
Y: Yes, totally. I think it’s mainly the redundancy, the feeling of not moving forward. I spent almost ten years of my life doing this, and I’m not a huge fan of freeskiing or even snowboarding.
J: Something I would to add is that we never filmed skiing to film skiing. The principle was to film our friends and the sick things they do. We could do that with another sport. It’s the people who matter.
Y: The sport shows noble movement, it shows the most beautiful humanity, in terms of pushing limits and teamwork.
J: It could be aqua-gym in a river. If there’s passion, you can do a movie about it.
So it’s not really the action that interests you?
Y: When we make a movie we are really focused on action because there we have respect for the public who comes for the performance.
J: It’s also a wish of the riders to show their best.
What’s next? We heard it’s your last movie.
Y: Now, looking at it, currently, today [laughs], we would like to turn to something else, without totally leaving what we do. Maybe having some new formats.
J: We would do shorter projects.
Y: I don’t like this webisode thing, the fact that people expect a recurrence? There is a vomit of content today, and there is always something to watch. I mean, you work your ass off for eight months and dedicate your life to something, find a concept and do something cultural, and in the end you post something for free that’s not even taken seriously and gets drowned in the flow. It’s at the same level as a GoPro video.
Where can you place yourself? Even this thing with Facebook. People ask us to publish video on Facebook, which has a shitty player. You buy great camera gear just so that people can watch your movie on a smartphone. I don’t want to be the guy saying “it was better before” but when we were watching movies on VHS, we had three movies a year and we would pass those around among our friends. Now everything has changed. Look at the action camera. Leo (Taillefer) gets more visibility jumping with a camera on his head than filming with us, and it’s what brands want.
Is more a problem of the distribution now? Would you continue if TV were interested, for example?
Y: It’s what we’re doing, we are working with a TV distribution company, but we had some problems with the music rights. It’s one of the reasons why we worked with a label this year from Lille named Cosmonostro, with whom we made an original soundtrack. In the end, we should be on the Internet but also on TV.
So is this the end of Gpsy Feelin?
Y: For sure, it will change.
J: But then, Gpsy as you know it right now has also changed a lot since the beginning.
Y: I think we need to change, not dig our own grave. It’s time to reinvent ourselves because we definitely don’t want our quality to go down.
J: And we still have fun working.
And you doing projects beside Gpsy?
Y: This year we did commercial work for the first time.
Do you consider yourselves a production company, and is that where you see your future?
Both: Yes, totally.
Y: It’s something positive about what we did. We know how to start from nothing, do everything, find the financial support for a project and bring it to the end. Really poorly, but…
J: [Laughs] We are progressing.
Y: I don’t think there are a lot of professional movies that have only two guys in the credits at the end.
Are you anxious?
J: It’s difficult to not be anxious right now.
Y: I just started a credit on my house, I need money.
J: As the budgets melt and our ambitions grow up, it’s tricky.
Y: There are a lot of people with camera nowadays because it’s not expensive and you can learn how to use them on the Internet. It puts pressure on people and pushes the average level up, which is good in the end.
Are you satisfied with your last movie?
Y: Personally, I can’t watch it anymore. [laughs]
J: We spent a lot of time working on it.
Did the riders check it while you made it?
Y: They could, but they trust us.
J: They have a eye on it when we shoot, because we know the one they liked.
Y: Only Flo had watched the full movie before we released it, and I thought it was cool that rest of the guys could discover it at the cinema.
Looking back at Gpsy, where is the meter – positive or negative?
Y: It’s really positive, and as long as people liked it, we won, and that’s what’s important. And that it’s not Nazi propaganda for energy drinks. [Laughs]
J: It’s like the hydrocarbon companies that own the forests.
Y: At the same time, it makes us shut up. All these movies are made to present the brands well. Back in the day in the skateboarding industry there were core movies, but now you can’t compete if you want to get paid. We need the brands, but it sucks. And I don’t think we are ecologically friendly, because our way of living is shitty, but their are some basic rules that can help, like: [deleted]
J: Don’t say that in the interview please…
No problem! Thanks for everything!