In the spirit of celebrating creativity, we invite talented individuals from around the globe to delve into our Q&A on the whats and hows of their creative journey. This episode is dedicated to the Paris based duo of directors behind Cokau, known for their innovative fusion of visual artistry and compelling energy.
How would you describe what you do?
Achille & Thomas: We are Cokau, a directors duo based in Paris. We mainly work with luxury brands or food industry but we also like to explore our artistic limits with experimental films.
How did you get started?
Achille & Thomas: We both attended a specialized cinema school for postproduction, where we acquired skills in editing and motion design. Our paths converged when we landed our first job at a postproduction house. We quickly teamed up as a creative duo and collaborated extensively with Nike for eight years. It was while filming the new jersey of the French soccer team in macro that we were inspired to create a short experimental film featuring insects. Winning the Vimeo Award for Best Experimental Film provided us with the confidence and motivation to embark on this new career journey, leading us to establish our own studio.
A strength or skill you value most:
Achille: Drawing upon my experience as a chief editor is a valuable skill that I consistently apply when conceptualizing new ideas. I believe that the pacing and rhythm of a film are fundamental elements in the creative process. These aspects play a pivotal role in shaping the overall impact and storytelling of the project. Whether it’s a fast-paced action sequence or a contemplative moment, understanding how to craft and manipulate the rhythm enhances the effectiveness of the final product, making it a critical aspect of my approach to filmmaking.
Thomas: With my background as an artistic director, I derive immense satisfaction from the ability to swiftly conjure a meticulously composed visual frame in my mind during the creative process. This innate capacity allows me to vividly envision the desired aesthetics of a scene, and then translate that mental image into reality. The goal is to ensure that the audience not only comprehends but also fully engages with our creative vision. By seamlessly transforming these mental blueprints into tangible visuals, we can captivate and resonate with viewers, bringing our artistic vision to life on screen.
One of your favourite projects you’ve worked on:
Achille & Thomas: Our experimental film, H₂élyos, stands out as one of our most exceptional experiences. It was a remarkable journey filled with an abundance of extraordinary talents and captivating insect-related content to capture. What made this project truly powerful was the inherent challenge of not being able to exert complete control over the insects’ behavior. Instead, we had to adapt to these fascinating creatures, embracing their unpredictability as we pursued the extraordinary in our shots. This dynamic interaction with nature’s subjects added a unique and compelling dimension to our creative process, making it an unforgettable and impactful endeavor.
Which phase of the creative process thrills you the most?
Achille: I have a profound affection for the editing process. Following the exhilarating chaos of the shoot, there’s a special thrill in the solitary act of reviewing the shots for the first time and meticulously piecing them together. This stage not only offers a sense of creative satisfaction but also allows me to relive the moments captured during filming, bringing the project to life as I shape its narrative and visual storytelling.
Thomas: The adrenaline rush of being on set during a shoot is incredibly exhilarating for me. It involves a constant battle against time, the task of keeping an entire crew motivated, and the challenge of swiftly resolving unexpected issues that may arise. Witnessing our creative vision come to life before our eyes for the first time is an unparalleled source of pure energy and inspiration. This electrifying experience fuels my passion for filmmaking and drives me to push the boundaries of what’s possible in each project.
What sparks your imagination?
Achille & Thomas: The synergy between our creative duo ignites our imagination. We freely brainstorm ideas, even if they seem far-fetched or initially flawed. However, it’s in this spontaneous back-and-forth exchange of concepts, a creative ping pong of sorts, that the magic happens. Sometimes, it takes just a few minutes, and other times, it might be a few days, but eventually, the spark of a brilliant idea emerges from this dynamic process. This collaborative energy not only fuels our creativity but also leads us to uncover innovative and impactful concepts that drive our projects forward.
3 things you need to get into your creative comfort zone:
Achille & Thomas: 3 hours calm and quiet, our macbook pro and an internet connection
Do you keep to a special routine/have daily rituals you do in order to let your creative juices flow?
Achille: Music is an essential engine for my creativity, it draws from deep within me to nourish my creative work. It is a tool that stimulates my imagination, releases buried ideas, and allows me to approach my projects with a renewed perspective and new energy. In summary, music is an invaluable source of inspiration for my creations.
Thomas: two key activities: reading and practicing sports.
Reading opens up new realms of inspiration and ideas for me. It not only exposes me to different perspectives and storytelling styles but also fuels my imagination. Through literature, I can explore diverse worlds, characters, and themes that often find their way into my creative work.
On the other hand, engaging in sports is equally vital. Physical activity not only helps maintain my overall well-being but also serves as a powerful outlet to clear my mind. The act of pushing my physical limits and focusing on the present moment during exercise allows me to reset mentally. This, in turn, frees my mind from distractions, making it easier to tap into my creative reservoir and generate innovative ideas.
A book, movie, exhibition, podcast you recently found inspiring:
Achille: I’m a big fan of graphic novels The Pizzlys by Jérémie Moreau transported me and searched for things deep within me. The images, rich in color and emotion, create a captivating visual experience. The book addresses contemporary themes in a subtle and poetic way, adding additional depth to this magnificent work.
Thomas: the book “Le Coeur ne cède pas” (the heart does not give in) from Grégoire Bouillier. The author conducted a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding a woman’s death. His unwavering commitment to the investigative process was truly inspirational.
Cokau: Directors duo (pronounced Koko) consists of Achille COquerel and Thomas KAUffmann. They began their collaborative journey in a post-production studio, initially working as a chief editor and a motion designer, and transitioned into directing a decade ago. Their creative output is characterized by a harmonious blend of intricate visual approach and compelling energy. Their expertise spans from practical special effects to CGI, reflecting their fervent dedication to merging cutting-edge innovations in order to craft mesmerizing visuals. They mainly work for luxury brands (Beauty, watchmaking, cars) but they also like to explore their artistic limits with experimental films.
To follow Cokau’s work visit cokaulab.com and @cokau_lab