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Diabolo is a Trip
2013, 101m, adventure, documentary, experimental
Paris, France. Today, Nico has a job interview. The first one in months.
Trapped in a system without direction, Nico continuously questions himself about what to do with his life.
Fascinated by diabolo since his childhood, he keeps regretting not having pushed his art further.
But during the next 24 hours, unusual encounters and situations will give him no choice but to face his dreams...
His imagination will take him on a soul-searching journey in which he will meet people sharing his passion. Today Nico has a job interview.
The last one for a long time...
Produced by: Nico Pires - Priam Pierret - Thierry Delaveau
Cast: Nico Pires - Priam Pierret - Tony Frebourg - Alexis Levillon - William Lin - Arata Urawa - Robin Spinelli - Nella Von Zerboni - Roman Müller - Marco De Matteis -
10 questions with Diabolo is a Trip director, Nico Pires at the half-way mark.
Saturday, August 27th, 2016
1Hi Nico! Thanks for being a part of our 2016 Summer Festival. First, what was it that made you want to make a documentary about this? Hi there! And thanks for giving us the opportunity to present our movie at your festival, that's a great honor!
Diabolo is a traditional art officially born in China almost a 1000 years ago. I started playing with that fascinating game when I was only 9 (in 1995), receiving one as a present by my auntie (good call :). That was it, I was hooked for life.
In 2004, a team of 9 french diabolists released the DVDs Diabology, which initiated a true revolution for our art. The creativity and diversity of styles of those guys inspired a whole new generation of diabolists around the world... including myself! That's how we entered the golden time for diabolo. Since that, the diabolo has been in an exponential evolution, limits being constantly pushed further.
I never thought I could make a living out of my passion, but someday, after my business studies and unemployed in Paris, I got offered to go to Hong Kong to perform diabolo in Disneyland! Back to China with my chinese game! From there, I started thinking how I could contribute to the art of diabolo mixing it to my other passions: travel and video. That's how the idea of a documentary about diabolo around the world popped out...
2After completing your documentary, what surprised you most about the
creative process and watching yourself in a film? It has been a 4 years long journey, with of course its bunch of ups and downs. Definitely the most special project I have had to lead so far in my life. Being able to watch it finished after that many hours of filming, editing, erasing, doubting... One of the best feeling !
But I would say that what surprises me the most, though all the difficulties we have met, and it is paradoxal maybe, it's how naturally things ended up being put together. I often had that sensation that things were "meant to be" through the creation of that movie. The people met, the locations found to shoot, sometimes the little signs of chance here and there, the support of key persons.... I am also very happy that the movie ended up being something pretty close of the starting idea, without major concessions on the content.
Being able to meet all those amazing people, with different visions of our art, different paths, techniques, as been a way to slowly define myself as an artist, and to grow as a person. Leading that project gave me also a sense of duty towards all those people, who had the patience to support it till it was finally out!
3Diabolo brings different countries and cultures together. How would
you like to see the game evolve? Diabolo is still evolving at huge speed. Of course I am a supporting the fact that it would be great if more and more people could one day have one in hands... But I often feels that it still is a very unknow game in the wide audience mind. That's the big paradoxe of our art: most people heard of it, or even have played it, but so few truly know what it has become. That is a chance too, it means diabolo can surprise a lot and break quite a bunch of preconceived ideas.
I feel that it should be carrying its history, its diversity, its spirituality somehow too.
Now, especially in some countries in Asia such as Taiwan, Japan and Malaysia, where it is really popular, diabolo is really considered as a sport too. Some competitions and battles with a hip hop spirit are rising up. In a way that is great as the technical level is constantly pushed further, but I hope that those events won't give a too commercial view of our art. And I encourage each and any true diabolist to do his own spiritual journey to China to meet the elders playing in the park as their morning meditation. That definitely impacted me!
4Since this is your first full-length documentary, what were the
biggest challenges? The first big challenge was to convince the diabolo community and people I would want to join that such a project was realistic, especially not being very well know by my diabolo mates by the time! Took a while, I did a few PowerPoint presentations to reach each of the artists to convince them and after that a few big names accepted, well it was easier to convince the others! Aside from that, all non creative part basically have been difficult to deal with : establishing a company, dealing with contracts and music copyrights. Those parts have been pretty frustrating but are essential. And of course, distributing and getting your movie known is a full time challenge, even more 3 years after the release !
5Is there a particular scene that you loved -- which you had to cut,
and it does not appear in the film?
Cutting out some stuff was heart breaking. In fact the movie you see in the fest is already a cut out version! In the DVDs Planet Diabolo, the movie is almost 1hour longer... But this is for true diabolo geeks!
So I would say that all the scenes cut between that long and the shorter version have been tough to remove. If I have had to think of one, I would say the sequence about the diabolo schools in Malaysia. Dozens of diabolists synchronously performing high diabolo skills. Mind-blowing!
6Since making the film, are there any countries where Diabolo has been
embraced for the first time, and become popular? I wouldn't say that there has been a huge wave of diabolists popping in one specific country since the movie, but definitely here and there, in countries with non diabolists at all. A guy for example from Egypt contacted me letting me know about his growing interest for our art, and he is now an amazing diabolist. His improvements have been phenomenal!
There has been quite some enthusiasm for the project in Japan too. I hope to go there for a screening someday. There are also some growing scenes in Chile and Mexico, I wouldn't claim that the credit goes to our movie, but I hope it can help supporting the passion of those people.
7Are you in touch with most of the people who are interviewed in the
film? Can you give us an update on their lives? Of course! That's the best part of all that. I would arrive on the other side of the world, meeting people for the first time, but with who I'd share the same love for that art. That breaks all the barriers of the world. I have made countless friendships through that project. We of course don't see each other that often, but when we do, for example on juggling conventions, we truly have a feeling of family. Some have decided to become professional artists, some still keep it as their hobby only, but the love for it is still there for most of them.
8Can you talk about the musical score and if some (or all) of the music
was composed for the film? Music was a central issue in our movie for several reasons. Our art is very visual and rythmic, for some of us we are clearly dancing with it ! As en editor, I do not see music as a background, but as a real part of the essence of a sequence. Being limited in the sound capturing for our movie made it even more important to properly choose our tracks. Each of them had to fit the place of the sequence and add to its atmosphere. Music is a trip as much as diabolo in our movie. Very often I would have a track in mind before starting the shooting and editing... but very often too unfortunately we couldn't clear the copyrights ! So our soundtrack is a mix of independant artists (Sizzlebird, Ronald Jenkees) and few other for which we had to deal with labels. We add only a couple of tracks tailor made for the movie. A funny anecdote for the track FUYA from C2C (team of french DJ's): their Major Label asked us for a crazy amount of money, so we decided to show the artists themselves the sequence... They love it so they asked the label to clear the price for 10 times less the amount ! Felt great !
9If you don't mind me asking, how did you secure funding for this film? Key question :). Well, I have led this project with 2 associates, Priam Pierret and Thierry Delaveau. Each of them passionate diabolist, Priam being the leader of the Diabology DVD in 2004, and Thierry having a great network of diabolists and informatic skills. We decided from the beginning to try to cover the costs ourselves as much as possible. On my side I was reinvesting all the savings from my Disneyland Hong Kong job into that project during more than 3 years.
Aside from that, we were able to get some support through a crowdfunding campaign.
And last but not least, the major diabolo brands and distributors out there backed up the project late in the process with some sponsoring.
Having studied project management and communication definitely helped me out with dealing with that key part of the project !
10What's next? We found out that the spirit of the movie can reach the audience better through live screenings during which the artists, my associates and myself could present the project, give anecdotes on this and that. Building that project gave us the opportunity to get a great bunch of diabolists closer all around the world. Therefore one of the dreams for me after that movie would be to actually build a proper live performance out of it with some of my closest diabolo friends. I have started adapting it on a solo show that I have been performing since a couple of years, mixing video, dancing, and live diabolo and the audience has been pretty welcoming. So yes, we feel the potential of such a thing as it has never been done before in our field! Building such a show would require quite some logistics but we are planning to start presenting the ideas to a few producers in the coming months... If you know anyone interested to back us on this, feel free to let us know ! Aside from that collective project, I wish to keep spreading our art through my acts and workshops, and learning from new artistic fields too such as live music and dance. And maybe a 'Diabolo is a trip 2' in a few years!
About the Interviewer: Jeff M. Giordano
I have been making films for over 12 years. I enjoy being the messenger of other people's life stories (struggles, triumphs, and wisdom). Currently, I'm in post-production on a feature-length documentary about San Francisco. Also, I'm writing a story based on autobiographical elements. Recreationally, I write poetry and paint.
Most of directed films (big and small) can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/user8416459
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