Sandro Suppnig : A true image artisan
He has a name that reminds us of a clothing line that’s colors fade after 4 washes, but Sandro is not a piece of cloth that we like just because it’s new, that we ignore and that gets ruined. On the contrary, Sandro, is one of those who get better and better with time and leave an unforgettable mark.
Sandro Suppnig really loves beauty. Woman’s beauty, but also men’s and the beauty of them together. Softness and emotion are the two words that come to mind when we discover his work. Whether it is for commissioned films or for his personal visual work, Sandro puts a lot of heart into both, so it was very natural that he becomes represented in France. It is the production company Satellite my love, whom we spoke to you about not so long ago, that had the great idea of signing this talent, who holds an important position in the fashion domain for many years now.
Whether it is in production or directing, for brands such as Nars Cosmetic, Pepe Jeans, Miss Sixty, Dsquarred or even Missoni, Sandro practices his job like a true image artisan.
Whether it is the core or the shape, his subject are always sublime, without leaving out that human aspect, even for commissioned films.
His last Schwarzkops film for Valentine’s day is an example as it got more than 10 million views in only 2 weeks.
Portraying a couple and little things from our daily life that make us love each other with an overwhelming sensibility, the film resembles him. Refined, playful and sweet.
You have to carefully watch his “personal”, darker films as well, inspired by the film-noir, having a mysterious charm to them, that takes the viewer into a strange and unusual universe.
Sandro is of Austrian origins, he lived between France and the United States and speaks no less than 5 languages.
He was very natural and welcoming as we asked him a few questions.
Sandro, you are of Austrian origin and on your site you state that you are inspired by the film-noir and the “Warholian” avant-garde. Those two worlds seems paradoxical to us. How does that translate for you? Can you tell us a bit more about your influences?
Well to start with I was an only child and my parents and I travelled a lot during summer vacations, mostly in Mediterranean countries. Being around adults from an early age on and being exposed to all kinds of archaeological sights as well as different cultures, traditions, cuisine, environments, myths, stories etc certainly influenced me, piqued my curiosity and shaped my sensibility. So my first source of inspiration was certainly Europe herself and her diversity.
Then definitely Italian and French cinema as well as Photography – everything from Helmut Newton to Peter Beard, Music – here again I’m really diverse and go through different periods and styles – from Johann Sebastian Bach to the Freemasons or Phoenix and everything in between.
So yes – there is a lot of contrast in all those influences but I don’t see them as antithetical but rather as complementing each other.
Further inspirations are certainly exhibitions and museums, journeys as well as Instagram – There is a lot of junk but also some extraordinary things and it gives you a feeling of trends and tendencies . And last but not least:
Life itself. I’m constantly observing things, watching people, situations, moments. Sometimes I take notes or pictures, sometimes theses observations just become memories. Then, one day, they re-appear in modified form, in a scene of a film of mine.
You have a producer past, how do you switch from that side? Behind the camera?
I think directing really was already in my veins. Ever since I can remember I have been very curious and determined to explore a subject or story deeper.
Before I went to school for example I got really frustrated and bored when my mum would read a book next to me. As a result I taught myself the alphabet and started to read while I was still in Kindergarten. We didn’t have television at that time yet and I went through book after book to keep myself busy – It must have been hundreds over the years.
The books and all those stories enflamed my phantasy. It was like pouring oil into fire. I remember periods of my childhood where I would completely dive into a certain period or theme and gather as much information and objects regarding a certain subject or period as I could find. Since this was before internet and our local bookshop was tiny I used all kinds of sources. When we learned in elementary school about the visit of the last Austrian empress in my hometown during World War One in 1917 for example, I got so intrigued by that idea, that with the help of my grandmother, I actually managed to find a very old woman who could still remember this event. I wouldn’t stop to ask questions and she had to tell it to me over and over in all details. Another example would be a later obsession with naval history and the Spanish Armada – where I completely re-decorated my bedroom to make it look like the replica of captain’s cabin on an old galleon. Ship’s Bell included!
What might seem like some sort of eccentricity at first hand, actually laid the foundation of who I’m today as artist and how my creative process as a director works: It is based on the natural curiosity, instinct and interest to explore the soul of each project and brand, as diverse as they might be, distill the information, source the inspiration and create the film. The more information you gather beforehand the more profound the motion piece usually gets. No matter if it is 30 seconds or 2hours long.
However I actually never really knew I could become a director until I was one. I guess simply because I wasn’t exposed to this world. Things rather happened progressively for me. I first studied international economics, then I did a Masters in Marketing & Communications in Paris. During that time I met Oliver Hirschbiegel, Oscar nominated Director of “The Downfall” at a party. This was the first time I started to think about working in film production. UCLA filmschool followed. However through different obstacles that life threw at me, it wasn’t until years later when I worked in luxury advertising in NYC that, almost by chance, I directed my first fashion-film. The rest is history.
You worked and lived in many different countries, are the rules different in the image content?
Well of course there are certain countries in the Arabic world for instance that have codes and rules to respect in terms of nudity and things like that due to religious beliefs.
However overall we are living in a digital world and that said I think there are no real specific « national » codes in terms of image when thinking of different countries. They are rather defined by the brand identity, whom you create the film for.
How did you do to adpat to the changes in your life?
For me it really is the same. I have a similar rhythm and lifestyle no matter where I’m in the world. In everyday life it is rather the little things that change like speaking in another language and having my coffee in Paris sitting down in a Café, rather than walking down the Highline with a Starbucks in NYC for instance.
I have close friends in all cities and places that I like and know, such as restaurants, neighbourhoods or gyms. So it kind of always feels familiar. It somehow always feels like coming home. And yet it is quite paradox as I’m constantly missing something or someone.
What is the film that changed your life?
Definitely MILK with Sean Penn. I was actually quite unhappy professionally when I watched it. The story is super inspiring itself but when I then found out that the film’s Oscar winning screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black was only a few years older than me, I really thought I have to change something. Three months later I directed my first fashion-film “La Demimondaine”….
What is the film that you would have loved to direct?
Out of Africa
If you had to choose between color and black and white, what would your choice be?
If you had to choose between color and black and white, what would your choice be?
Color : Color is life !
Why do we have the impression that your films are of the “one man’s vision” type?
Do you have a gift of convincing clients to do whatever you want?
That’s a beautiful compliment. However the opposite is the case. It’s brilliant teamwork. I think I have the great advantage of having had a very good education in Marketing and a previous career in two upscale advertising agencies in NYC. I therefore had the best training to understand a client’s needs, also from another perspective than that of the director. If you understand people, listen and communicate your ideas well, you will inspire them and the result shows in the project.
You have to know that you have very good looks, did anyone ever offered you an acting or modeling job? If so, why haven’t you dived in?
Hahahaha !!! Well first of all – Thank you for this charming compliment. How very French of you !
Well it has happened but I’m not really comfortable in front of the camera to be honest. Two years ago however I was approached by a casting director to play an SS Officer in « Le Louvre sous l’occupation » directed by the great Aleksandr Sokurov. I seriously first thought it was a joke but when I realized that thee offer was serious, I accepted immediately. It was a small role and I only had three or four lines, but the shoot itself and the experience were incredible – Like being transported in time.
In the era of “everyone is a director”, we’re witnessing a shift in the audiovisual sector, what do you think “the image of tomorrow” is going to look like?
I really don’t know or actually I don’t think about such things. I’m doing a job I love and I do it the best way I can. If the environment changes, you have to adapt. That’s kind of my approach.
What are your projects in the near future?
I have a lot of new, really beautiful work coming out over the next couple of months for clients such as Nioxin, Max Mara and Davidoff. Also my short-documentary « Sequence Journey », about kids that are in danger of being corrupted by gangs in El Salvador, will launch in November.