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Interview with Thibault Menu – Downhill Filmmaker

Today we’ve catched up with Thibault Menu, downhill filmmaker who recently put together amazing edit with Brendan Howey – “Flowey.

 In case you’ve missed that, here’s the masterpiece: 

FLOWEY – Brendan Howey – Thibault Menu – 2016 from COMMENCAL on Vimeo.

Here’s the helmet cam from the course: 

How long did it take you to shoot the movie? How many film days?

I went to Canada for 8 weeks in total, not just for filming, 2 weeks in Whistler then 6 weeks on the sunshine coast. We needed to build new things so it took us some time, I guess we ended up shooting for something like 8 days in total. Howey was working during the week so it was a little long. The other days were spent building, preparing, exploring the coast and riding of course !


How long did you edit the movie? 

It took me 2 months to come home in France and finish the edit. I needed a break after Canada so I didn’t edit it quickly. Everyone had different expectations for the edit so I had to please everyone and I ended up re-editing the film many times. Finding the right music took me so long as well, it’s always the worst part for me I never find something that sounds exactly how I picture it. I’d love to have enough budget for a sound designer, maybe next time.


How did you get this amazing, cinematic look?

I’d say I’m getting more into a cinematic style, less video-ish. I’m still not quite there but this is where my style is going I think. So I used more handheld movement and less glidecam, tried to read light a little better to have the right exposure, and used an old vintage lens with a shallow depth of field. It gives a more intimate feeling, more emotions I think and I definitely like that. Now I want to tell stories not just film some action, I want the viewer to feel something and connect to the film, big program !


Did you use some color correction? 

Yes definitely, My camera has a flat look so you have to color correct to get colors and contrast. Same as sound design, I have to do it all by myself. It’s a fun process but it’s easy to overdo it and ruin everything. One of the major problem is that we all have different screens (laptop, tv, smartphones…) and they don’t show colors and contrast the same way so what looks good on my laptop might look awful on your tv…


What equipment did you use for the filmming?

I have a Sony a7 sII, Sony 16-35 f4 , Canon Fd 50mm 1.4, Canon Fd 80-200 f4, Dji phantom 3 pro, gopro 4 black, Instamic (small microphones), and a glidecam HD 2000. It’s a good gear list, I wish I had more but my bank account says no and it’s actually good enough to create good films. 


Were there any issues during filming? 

Actually no major issues, the main concern was time as Howey was working on weekdays, so we sometimes had to dig and shoot in the morning before work or right after in the evening. The last shot with the drone in the sunset needed the right light so we showed up many times on location before having the right light. The shot I used was actually filmed the very last evening, I was flying home the next day so it was a last minute thing !


Were there any serious crashes during the filming? 

No, there was no serious crashes during the filming. I was careful not to crash too, I was riding  when we were not filming so I couldn’t go too crazy, not finishing the film because the filmmaker crashed would have been a bummer and a little bit stupid.


Do you have any films planned for this season? 

 I have to say it’s pretty hard to make a living out of filming MTB in France, brands don’t really want to spend money as they do in North America. So right now I have to focus on other topics to make it sustainable. I actually want to film other things, it’s not a bummer at all. I’m trying to get in contact with outdoor brands to do some documentary about passionate people and athletes, film some trips around the world, so we’ll see how it turns out.
I will definitely film some MTB this season, it remains a big passion of mine.


What’s your background? Did you go to film school?

No I didn’t go to film school, I actually went to University but for a master degree in marine biology, but then thought it was more fun to film stuffs. I’d say filmmaking is something you can learn by yourself, there are so many ressources on the internet. Not saying that filmschool is wrong, it just isn’t a negative thing if you haven’t been there.


Why didn’t you go for RAW video with just biking noises? 

I did film some Raw videos before, I just didn’t want to do it this time, it really is something you have to think about before shooting and prepare in advance. But I want to film a RAW video soon, I like the feel of it, just like I said before it’s more intimate and you really feel close to the rider and the action, it engages the viewer. I love riding and the feeling you get when riding, a RAW video usually represents that.


In what locations was it shoot? 

It was Only shot on the sunshine coast, Canada. A little bit on the coast gravity park, thanks to the guys in charge who let us use the park. Then other locations were secret trails around the park.  Thanks to COMMENCAL for the trust and thanks to anyone who helped us on the way, thanks Downhill24hours for the interview

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