Art director Fleur Fortuné tells cinematic stories through music visuals
Fleur Fortuné – one half of the famous filmmaking duo Fleur & Manu – is an award-winning director who consciously pushes her art forward, having produced cinematic videos for the likes of Travis Scott, The Avalanches and a handful of commercial companies, including Nike and Chloé.
With her first beginnings at the Paris-based H5 graphics studio, Fortuné began her career as an art director, and a clear, artistic approach seeps into her visuals with the creative boldly exploring outside the lines of what defines a music video; stretching the format to go widescreen and producing work that sits in that unique space between music visual and film. Fortuné considerably extends the running length of conventional videos, placing a higher importance on building a deeply evocative story by drawing on the essence of a track and taking it into a highly conceptual realm. A prime example of her work is Travis Scott’s dystopian Birds in the Trap, wherein a lengthy 12 minutes sets the scene of his death, featuring those in-between moments of dialogue and drama that gives the video space to breathe. and draws viewers in with its elaborately constructed narrative.
Throughout her dreamy, stylistic portfolio, Fortuné consistently creates beauty from widescreen shots of breathtaking landscapes, and seamlessly segues between various formats – retro stylings are stitched together with modern non-sequiturs, and enhanced with special effects.
Below, we catch up with Fortuné to discuss her large-scale projects, how they came to life and how music videos may continue to evolve.
Read Crack Magazine’s list of 10 music video directors switching up the game. Work by these directors will be screened at the and& summit and festival’s A/V screening room and Oscar Hudson will be in conversation with Crack Magazine at the event, discussing the art form and its future. Find out more about and& here.
Can you tell us about your background – when did you first begin making music videos? Have you always been fascinated with the format?
I have to say I was more fascinated about some movies that really marked me at an early age. I remember sneaking out of my bedroom at night when my parents would go out to watch TV. I was something like 11 and discovered the TV show Twin Peaks, which was a shock but in a good way. It wasn’t necessarily the format but more different universes, ways of thinking. Then later I discovered that music videos was a great format to experiment out of the narrative rules and codes of classical fiction, even if some directors like Tarkovsky managed to apply this into their features.
I started doing music videos for friends who had a music label: Record Makers which was the label of Air or Sebastien Tellier.
I’ve read that you began your career as a graphics designer and later, an art director and you’ve worked in fashion. Have these fields shaped your approach to music videos in any way?
For sure, art direction is something that is really important for me in order to build universes and ambiences that feel different and more emotional as well. I think that visual emotion is as important as the acting and the narrative. My references come from manga, fashion, movies, comic books, art books and I like to mix things together that are not supposed to coexist in a certain way – it is disruptive.
Your music videos bring the format closer to being a short film, with the widescreen effect and a longer running length to set the scene. Do you consciously try to push your art and expand upon traditional formats?
Definitely. I do music videos to push boundaries, not to follow them. It is more about a concept, an emotion that the music conveys. I feel like the audience today is more open-minded, they don’t need us to explain to them how it works. They expect novelty and innovation.
How do you see music videos evolving in the future?
I feel like the industry tries to keep us in a format that was made for TV but today, most music videos are seen on other internet platforms. I can see that artists are also evolving in many ways concerning how they communicate on their music. We need to jump on the bandwagon and be more creative on the format and support as well. Music videos need to stay a source of reference
What are the components of a compelling music video to you?
First of all, it needs to transcend the music without overwhelming it. In many ways, it should convey its essence, concept, lyrics, what kind of mood and emotion the artist was in when he wrote and composed it. Then – and this is maybe the most difficult – it has to be new, unseen, open new perspectives, create a new experience and, finally, it has to be emotional and outstanding.
How important is technology to your work?
Well, a lot. But it has to stay a tool serving the concept or narrative. It should never lead the idea. But today you can’t really escape from technology, it’s part of the world. And it’s the future too! Which is frightening and exciting at the same time.
Are there any technological advancements you’d like to utilise, or explore, through your work in the near-future?
I have to say I’m intrigued by virtual reality. Some documentaries have been made, for example, in a really interesting way, so maybe for a scene. But for the moment I wouldn’t go on a full VR project because I think I’m too attached to the cinematographic approach visually and narratively.