Director of the video for “The Odor of Essence” for Orelsan, David Tomaszewski is also the designer of the very Bondian credits of “OSS 117 – Alert in red in black Africa”, which he mentions with us on the occasion of its video release.
1. The title card of the credits of “OSS 117 – Red alert in black Africa”
© Mandarin Production / Gaumont
If he made a strong impression thanks to the music video of “The smell of gasoline”, shock song signed Orelsan, David Tomaszewski was also illustrated in the cinema this year. And in a very nice way thanks to the opening credits of OSS 117 – Red alert in black Africa. While Nicolas Bedos’ film has just been released on video, it comes back with us on this experience and allows you to discover extracts from the storyboard.
AlloCiné: How did you start working in the cinema industry? What was your background before?
David Tomaszewski: After a literary plastic arts baccalaureate, I left a cinema college in Paris after three weeks of boredom. I had a VHS under my arm with a few short films made during my high school days, and a digital visual effects demo tape that I was tweaking at home. So I approached various companies and I was hired by Jacques Bled, previously director of MacGuff Ligne – now Illumination. I started working on films as a 2D computer graphics designer, following supervisors on sets – including Rodolphe Chabrier, my main mentor – and meeting inspiring directors.
How did you end up working on credits, which are almost a movie within a movie? Is it your experience of the music video that played, since you also have to tell a story in a few minutes?
I made my first real credits on 99 Francs by Jan Kounen, which was – and still is – often at MacGuff’s. It was there that I met him. A short film that I directed and self-financed in 2005, Covered, contained visuals that looked like what he was looking for. Then Jan gave me the credits of his next film, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. His faithful editor, Anny Danché, and now also editor of all Nicolas Bedos films, calls me regularly since. I am very grateful to him for that. I had never done a music video at the time, it came later.
Making Bond credits has always been a fantasy. So with OSS 117, the wish has come true somewhere.
When was there any talk of making a James Bond credits roll for the latest “OSS 117”?
From the start, it was a wish of the director. A short paragraph in the script mentioned this desire for credits. The credits were therefore considered upstream as a scene from the film.
When we think of a James Bond credits roll, we obviously think of Maurice Binder and Daniel Kleinman, who worked on the franchise. Were these influences for you?
Sure. Totally. I have been a die-hard James Bond fan since I was young. It is these two artists, whom you quote, who gave me a certain obsession with the art of the credits. Making Bond credits has always been a fantasy. So with OSS 117, the wish has come true somewhere.
Did you have other influences here?
Jean-Paul Goude, obviously, for whom I had the immense honor of working when I started at MacGuff. Someone whom I admire enormously and who has had a great influence on me. This new OSS 117 taking place in the 80s, and Goude having marked this decade on several levels, it was essential that I quote it visually in this credits.
How is working with a director in a case like this? What were Nicolas Bedos’ indications?
Nicolas had a lot of ideas, like having a singer on the screen, and many others. We had a few meetings, brainstorming. Then, after reading the script, I offered him a treatment, which we went over several times. We shot the credits on set B while Nicolas shot on set A. He came from time to time to see what we were doing and express his desires. But I have to say he had great confidence so it was very fulfilling.
Are you completely free when you make a credits, or do you have elements to integrate imperatively?
Fairly free. Of course, there are always specifications to be respected, and a budget to be kept. But in general, I am mainly called to propose things, and not just to do the executive. It’s also good to have a framework to work. This keeps you disciplined and pointed in the right direction.
At what stage of a project do you generally intervene?
In 95% of cases: in post-production, when the film is shot and being edited.
Concretely, how was this OSS 117 credits shot? What were the different stages?
A day of shooting in the studio, in the Parisian suburbs, on a black and green background. We shot it on 35mm film, like the movie, except I didn’t have full reel magazines. We had to shoot with the offcuts, the ends of the reels, which was not very comfortable. The credits were shot in the winter just before the pandemic. So it was during all this first confinement that I was then able to manufacture, home made, this generic, in my apartment in London. This then spread over eight months, with various breaks and interruptions.
What are the three credits that will have marked the most as a spectator?
The three that immediately spring to mind are from three David Fincher films: Seven, Panic Room and Millenium – Men Who Didn’t Like Women (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in original version). These are generics that still remain. But I must also quote Casino by Martin Scorsese, Enter the Void by Gaspar Noé. And of course, pretty much every James Bond.
Do you already know what will be your next film?
Interview by Maximilien Pierrette in Paris on December 6, 2021
“OSS 117 – Red alert in black Africa” has been available in video since December 8: