Photograhy: Ejatu Shaw
Words: Elvira Vedelago
A-List Hollywood actor turned director. Royal Ballet prima donna turned choreographer. Going from in front of the camera to behind it is a familiar yet cliched tale of an oversaturated route into the industry. However, there lies a small uncharted territory of creative career switches that has remained dormant since the era of old Hollywood trailblazers: that of a dancer who becomes a filmmaker.
For 27 year old Londoner, Rémi Laudat, stepping outside the traditional framework seemed like a natural progression within his professional calling. “A lot of people go to film school and take the usual route up to where they are now. I started off as a dancer – ballet and contemporary to be exact. Then I shifted into film making. I’ve always loved films and just knew they were something special”, Laudat muses.
Beginning his journey into dance as a child, Laudat was training at weekends until he could fully commit to his passion. By 17, he had cemented himself in the world of dance, nurturing the development of his talent under inspired mentors in Cuba and auditioning for high-profile roles throughout Europe. Such a demanding schedule puts a strain on even the most skilled of dancers and Laudat was no exception.
Exasperated and bored whilst spending time in rehabilitation – the consequence of a particularly bad injury – he purchased a small DSLR and dedicated his time to filming the art form he loved so much, as a means to remain connected and motivated.“I’d see dancers’ showreels and be frustrated at the fact that they had this amazing technique, that they’ve undoubtedly worked on for many years, and then just show it on a crappy little tape. That became a passion of mine, to show this amazing art form in the best possible way”, he explains. While dance is governed by a certain amount of rule and routine, Laudat found himself without boundaries in film.
“You can tackle any subject matter, that’s what’s really important about film. I discovered a further reach through filmmaking than I would have had as an individual dancer on stage. That excited me.”
A fire had been lit and regardless of Laudat’s return to dance, he continued with this personal project – a tool that would not only support his fellow dancers in gaining more traction and exposure through film but also propel him into an untapped dimension of creative expression. This would soon become a tribute to a past life and the beginnings of a new adventure, once he finally made the decision to delve into filmmaking professionally.
However, breaking into the industry is no easy feat, and with the rise of social media and the emergence of new-age, iPhone photographers and filmmakers, that is only set to become a more arduous task. Yet Laudat shrugs the idea of impossible off, simply reasoning that he needed to apply to same amount of time and determination as he did at the start of his dancing career, to getting himself noticed in the film business. He recalls, “I typed London production companies into Google, got all their addresses, printed off my CV and went to every one I could. I offered my services as a runner, expressed my passion for their company, asked to work for them – I just chased around.”
Today, Laudat has ensconced himself as a director in his own right, creating fashion films and music videos for British talent such as Rebecca Ferguson, Raheem Bakare and Joy Crookes. He modestly credits his growing success to working with passionate crews: “If there’s no team, you’re not making a film. It is very much about everyone seeing the vision and knowing the best route to get there.” Featured on Hypebae, Dominance, one of his latest fashion stories about a model turned kickboxer, echoes his own unorthodox career change, whilst also highlighting the beauty in movement – a thread that strings a lot of Laudat’s work together and something he emphasises as deeply important to him.
“I always want the audience to feel something and that’s what I’m striving to have in my films.
My style is based around beauty – whether it’s something rugged or pristine. That’s probably come from my dancing background and transgressed into my filmmaking”.
Yet Laudat adamantly rejects the idea that his work is solely inspired by dance alone and to ringfence it as such would be missing the point of his refreshing perspective on film: “As a filmmaker, you are inspired by everything because film is all encompassing.” With two careers that have taken him around the world to experience different lifestyles, it is this worldly understanding of which only travel can give, as well as his own personal experiences, that Rémi attributes as being the true source of his inspiration – reflected in his newest project, Alyssad, a fleeting glimpse into the play between culture, people and passion.
He encourages others to adopt more of this all-inclusive openness to film and hints will feature more prominently in his upcoming work. When pressed to discuss this evolving style, he keeps tight-lipped about what more we can expect from him, leaving with the final statement: “my voice becoming stronger and some visually powerful pieces.” Anything less would be ill-suited to this promising luminary.
Watch his latest film الصيد، – ALSSAYD/THE HUNT below.
Photograhy: Ejatu Shaw