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Uprising: Arthur Couvat’s Passion for Skiing and Filmmaking


Halal’s director on his rural French upbringing, how it fuelled his love of the outdoors and why he’s not just trusting the process but working towards it, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Uprising: Arthur Couvat’s Passion for Skiing and Filmmaking

Growing up in the French mountains, Arthur Couvat found his passion for sports and the outdoors at a young age. In the rural setting, he found himself drawn to his mother’s camcorder, which he picked up and started making ‘little films’ with. Eventually, that turned into editing and now, Arthur is in Amsterdam, having made his hobby a career.

“I spent my time doing many outdoor activities,” says Arthur, reflecting on his childhood, “I had loads of energy and wanted to try everything… And I did. I played football, basketball, and volleyball - which all led me to the feeling of community and teamwork early on.” This community is what he believes brings his work together now, as he focuses his efforts on showcasing sports and humanities at the forefront.

With the mountains at his doorstep, it’s no surprise that he says he learnt to ski before he knew how to walk. Those experiences built up his formative years - memories of “being outdoors, beating against the forces of nature, and being on top of the mountains,” gave him a real driving force. Although this connected him to nature, there was a downside of being in a remote setting. He says, “growing up in a small village in the French Alps, there wasn’t a lot to do. I was always trying to kill the boredom by coming up with new activities - such as filming.”

Picking up his mother’s camcorder at age 12, he remembers, “I created my first little film that starred my siblings, and I remember how I edited things on my mother’s computer. I think that was the moment that sparked my passion for filmmaking.” From then on, he was hooked. “From making small film trailers with my siblings, to skate videos with my friends in Annecy, to hip-hop music videos in Paris. Throughout the years, these practices taught me all there was to know about cameras and coming up with creative concepts.”

As Arthur continued to create these videos, there was no thought in his mind that this might one day be his career. “I didn’t know anyone in the field,” he says, “so I absolutely wasn’t aware that this could ever be a possibility for me.” As fate would have it, while Arthur applied to study science and politics, he ended up going with his last choice, at the University of Montpellier where his course was cinematographic studies. It’s safe to say it was a formative experience.

He says, “This changed my whole perspective on making videos in ways where I realised that this could actually become my job after all. They lectured me about the history of cinema, where I also got to study films which altered my brain in so many ways, both theoretically and culturally. My favourite part was a class about Werner Herzog - this changed my perspective on life forever. Herzog is a legend.”

While Arthur’s first job wasn’t in the industry, rather as a delivery driver for Dominos, there was still quite a bit of charm to it. “The job was located in Montpellier in the South of France - where it was always sunny. It’s such a beautiful place. I was driving around on a scooter for five hours per day, meeting people. I loved it.” But naturally, he wanted to continue on his path to filmmaking, which is when he landed an internship at a camera rental company in Paris. Describing it as ‘perfect’ for him, it gave him an in-depth knowledge of the equipment he’d be working with as well as gaining knowledge from the people around him who already knew so much. 

Working at the camera rental company had several benefits, as he explains, “One of the perks of the job was the rental discount on equipment. This was an amazing opportunity to test out all the new cameras.” As he gained experience, Arthur made friends with Mario Guay and Nastassja Bonnabel while on set for a shoot with Paris Nord. The creatives worked at Wieden+Kennedy and 72&Sunny in Amsterdam at the time and connected him with Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, who were looking for an in house editor.

Applying for the role, he says, “After a few phone calls, I got the position, left everything behind, and moved to Amsterdam. It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me at that time. This was the breaking point - right there, right then, I was serving orange juices in a hotel in Lyon. This was the moment where I thought that I either should stop dreaming about it or go for it. I’m so thankful I’ve gotten the opportunity; it was exactly the right moment.”

Arthur says, “I got to learn about everything the film industry has to offer: about advertising, how production runs, how creatives, account managers, and service production companies work. This was a whole new world to me, full of fascinating people from different backgrounds.” It left him itching to get his hands on some commercial work and after five months, that’s exactly what happened. “I was the one to film the social media assets for a Nike campaign, next to Matthew Vaughn, who was the main director. The campaign contained big names such as the soccer legends Pirlo, Coutinho, and Gattuso. This moment was where it all started, when I knew I could do it. And that was the kickstart of my career.”

During those first projects and while he was editing, Arthur learnt a valuable lesson. “In my first job as an editor, they pushed me to thrive in my essence. I learned to be confident and to trust my own creative ideas.” Not only this, but he also learnt the value of working with people who have a similar thinking, and part of the reason why he landed himself at HALAL in Amsterdam. 

As he continues to hone his skills, he says, “I’m still aiming to get to that ‘project that changes my career’. I’d love to get more into fiction, and am currently working on my first short film. I trust the process, believing this could be it - or at least, I’m working towards it. I aspire to make films that translate emotions and dreams into moving images. This has always been the dream that I’ve been working towards.” 

His favourite part of the process is the time he gets to spend travelling and being on set, it’s that moment where everything comes together that makes him keep doing what he does. “When you’ve been working on a project for a long time - going through the pitch, location scouting, casting, the moment you get to the set and see everything come to life is the most euphoric feeling. It’s like a dream you imagined, but then happening for real.”

Like many creatives, Arthur can find it hard to switch off, especially with social media as a readily available asset. Both a blessing and occasionally a curse, he finds some of his inspiration from various platforms while also staying connected with people who inspire him to create. “I also watch a lot of movies,” he says, “Criterion Channel is an amazing source of entertainment - they have the best selection of films ever, with great remastered old Hollywood and foreign art house films.” He also mentioned LeCinemaClub as a useful resource, naming ‘Skaterdater’ by director Noel Black as a particular favourite.

One of his biggest inspirations is also undoubtedly Werner Herzog, “He’s my favourite filmmaker. His way of looking at things is insanely original, and his choice of subjects is so inspiring. A film like his ‘Encounters at the End of the World’ is so good - it feels so genuine. It also has this ‘stranger than fiction’ aspect about it, which I find astonishing.” Arthur also mentions ‘independent authors that push the boundaries of filmmaking’ such as Laura Poitras, the director and journalist, as well as films that inspire him, such as ‘Honeyland’. But with so many genres and incredible directors, mentions also go to Ruben Ostlund, Thomas Vinterberg, Bong-Joon-Ho, Lee Chang Dong and Yorgos Lanthimos.

Speaking of passions, with his friends and skate crew in Paris, and inspired by the genre, Arthur and his friends have been cooking up something exciting. “We’ve been working on a skate video shot by Elliot Bonnabel that is going to be released soon. All my best friends are in it.” Having recently signed with HALAL, he’s excited to be part of a production company for the first time, with colleges around him to support his ventures.

When Arthur isn’t working, you can find him with a book in his hands, getting his mind away from the screen and immersing himself in a whole new world. Though fiction is a particularly favourite genre, he’s expanding his horizons, “I recently got hooked on Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Poe novels. I am getting more and more into non-fiction, though I loved ‘Slightly Out of Focus’ by Robert Capa.”

He leaves us with this: “I’m currently working on my first photography book, compiling five years of travelling and street photography around the world. I’m excited to release it. I have selected all the photography I’ve shot and accumulated over the years into a book. Photos were taken on the streets of Marrakech, New York, Oaxaca, Paris, and Mexico City. Keep an eye out for that.”


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Halal, Thu, 19 Jan 2023 18:00:35 GMT