Cloé Bailly on why comedy makes life less boring, and the effects of winning YDA

Cloé Bailly picked up a YDA prize in 2017 and here she tells us how the recognition helped her career and why any moment, even the shittiest, “can become interesting when twisted with a comedy eye”.

You picked up a gold Screen Award in the Web Film category at the 2017 YDA for your Vogue film, Alexa on Alexa; what do you remember most about that year’s ceremony and your success at it?

I was shooting a commercial in London during the ceremony… Sadly, I couldn’t attend nor celebrate the proper way, but my EPs at Caviar London took me out to compensate the FOMO!


[The YDA] offered me great exposure as well as credibility in the industry. I started getting more boards, bigger budgets, projects better-suited for me.

How hopeful were you that your work might come out of the YDA with some form of recognition?

I wasn’t hoping or expecting anything to be honest. I actually was quite oblivious to awards at the time… I only realised how big of a deal winning a YDA was when I found out about my nomination.


What effect did the win have on your burgeoning directing career?

There’s definitely a before and an after. It offered me great exposure as well as credibility in the industry. I started getting more boards, bigger budgets, projects better-suited for me. Winning a YDA also changed something inside me and my approach to work as it made me feel more ‘legit’. Getting the recognition of your industry felt like a reassuring pat on the back.


An award or even a nomination can really give a huge visibility to a young talent.


What made you want to get into directing in the first place?

I still can’t say exactly. It started when I was a kid, I was obsessed with making little comedy films with a DV camera, films that I still recall as hilarious although they might be the cringiest and most painful videos to watch.

In my early twenties, I constantly gravitated towards filmmaking as I was in acting school but also working as an assistant director and a producer’s assistant. I loved being on set but I didn’t know what my part really was. It was only when I got to work for director Dimitri Basil in LA that I realised I wanted to direct myself. But I guess I truly understood I wanted to direct when being ‘on set’ directing for the first time. I was freaking the hell out but I remember feeling more driven than I’d ever been before. That’s when it clicked.


Your work is visually stylish with a comedic and irreverent twist; is that something you’ve always gravitated towards and, if so, why?

Comedy has always been a way to express myself, in my personal life as well as in my craft. Putting the humour filter on life makes it less boring, I guess. Any moment, even the shittiest (especially the shittiest), can become interesting when twisted with a comedy eye. That’s probably why I direct comedy, because it’s the natural extension of my way of approaching life.

About the stylish visuals… the movies that I grew up with and that inspire me are aesthetic. Almodovar, the Coen Brothers, Mankiewicz, Paul Thomas Anderson; this cinematic self-education has defined my taste. Art direction is super-important to me, and I believe you can make people laugh while entertaining their eye.


Alexa on Alexa: Dating Alexa Chung – Gold Screen winner 2017

Do you think it’s become more or less difficult for new talent to break through in the world of commercials?

Honestly, I have no idea. I have no comparison. I guess there’s more and more competition, in this digital era where everybody has an easy access to filming. It’s probably tougher to break through or even to make a solid living in the industry than in the golden age of advertising. But I don’t like to think ‘it was better before’, it’s too easy to nurture a fantasy about the past.

On the other hand, I feel like new talents have a place and a voice in the industry nowadays. There’s less judgement about being a junior if you have a strong vision. Hierarchy probably means less that a few years ago.


How important do you think competitions and events such as the YDA are for allowing new directing talent to get noticed?

Super-important! An award or even a nomination can really give a huge visibility to a young talent. It’s also an occasion to meet people from the industry in a less formal way than in a meeting. And let’s face it, recognition is also a fuel for creativity. Come on, we’re directors, we love a bit of love and attention.


Let’s face it, recognition is also a fuel for creativity. Come on, we’re directors, we love a bit of love and attention.


What advice would you give to any director looking to carve out a career in advertising?

1. Never take no for an answer.
2. Work your ass off. No, like, really.
3. Be patient (toughest part).
4. Surround yourself well. Filmmaking is about collaboration.


What are you working on at the moment?

I’m shooting a few commercials and writing my feature film (a comedy about sex). Lolz all the way.


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