Award Winner - August 2021 Edition
. Best 360° Film
. Best Women Film (Nominee)
Nice to meet you, Vicky. How did you meet Vanessa Ferle and Anna Gradou, who co-directed the film?
Nice to meet you too. I met Vanessa and Anna at the joint Greek-French Master entitled “Art, Virtual Reality and Multi-user systems of Artistic Expression”, which was held by the Athens School of Fine Arts and the University Paris 8 - Vincennes - Saint-Denis (Arts et Technologies de l’Image Department). It was an amazing postgraduate program on digital arts that also gave us the opportunity to live in Paris for one year. Another great advantage of this program was that the selected students formed a multi-disciplinary group, as everyone had different backgrounds (both artistically and scientifically). This resulted in fruitful collaborations such as this one.
Vanessa is a neuroscientist, digital artist and graphic designer and Anna is a computer scientist and digital artist. Apart from digital arts, we also have one very important thing in common: We love cinema. Vanessa and Anna as directors and I mostly as an actress. And there we are.
You are credited as a civil engineer and performer. How do you combine both professions?
I am a professional actress, who happened to have graduated from the school of civil engineering in the National Technical University of Athens. I have never worked as a civil engineer. What I do combine though, are the qualities I have acquired from all my studies, so as to build interactive multimedia performances.
The school of engineering was a “study of mind” that inevitably has structured my way of thinking and processing. That’s why, apart from being an actress, I also call myself a “Performing Engineer” – a term I invented while I was writing my Master’s thesis. “Performing Engineering” is a technique for actors who want to create their own artistic projects.
Thus, they perform in the artistic environment they create. Consequently, the final project is an individual artwork, a very personal artistic statement, that includes acting as a basic element and focuses on creating interactive multimedia communities. This fact liberates me from the actor’s never-ending anxiety of waiting for a callback. It keeps me focused on my art, fuels me with optimism and offers me the joy of communicating with people. In short: “Thank you civil engineering for making me a more creative and resilient actor”!
A Greek, entirely feminine crew, a shoot in Paris, France, a sound collage in English speaking voices… What would you have to say about the project's multicultural approach?
It’s just a reflection of who we are and the stimuli we had when we decided to shoot the film. We were in Paris, a very artistic, rich, multicultural capital, we lived in Saint-Denis, a rather poor suburb, we were some Greek strangers trying to communicate in French while observing our new reality and we had in our hands a 360° camera.
We wanted to use this camera and capture as much as possible of our experience, always accompanied by our observation of the social events around the world. Refugees washed up on the shore like garbage, immigrants searching for a better life, women struggling to escape abusive environments. The whole idea had attained a more global essence and no language but an international one, English, could express this.
How do the Greek youths feel about immigration nowadays? What is the migrants' situation like there at the moment? As you now live in France, what is your take on their situation in Europe, on the whole?
My personal experience is that there are quite a lot of immigrants in Greece and a lot more in France. Indeed, if we read the numbers, we will see that the percentage of migrants per country’s population is higher in France. At the same time, my observation is that immigrants are better integrated in France than in Greece, obviously because the country is richer. And this is the norm on the whole in Europe I think.
The richer the country, the more the immigrants, as people usually immigrate in search of a better quality of life. I have a lot of Greek friends who have immigrated searching for a better professional rehabilitation - especially in the arts and science sectors (myself included).
Your performance in front of a 360° camera is impressive. Did you choreograph it? What was your process, how did the conversation between you and your two collaborators build, to achieve such a result?
Thank you. No, it wasn’t choreographed. It was pure improvisation under the given circumstances: the story, the location of the shooting, the weather, the directors’ instructions, the 360° camera. One conversation with Vanessa and Anna was sufficient to communicate everything needed: the story, the atmosphere, the aesthetics. Then on the shooting days, they gave me some basic instructions and they left me free to improvise. If they liked something, we built on it, if not we kept improvising. We trusted each other’s work and were open to suggestions.
I feel we all three have a similar artistic instinct. About this performance, the challenge for me was acting for the first time in front of a 360° camera. Some technical things are different with this medium i.e., distances and the level of distortion. Plus, the shooting was held outdoors in December – in Paris, so I had to endure very low temperatures with very light clothing.
On some of the shoots, I wasn't even wearing shoes. But this is one of the things I love about acting: when I act, my levels of resilience increase. It’s kind of a magic moment when my whole being is more present than ever, thus the more stimuli, the better. And this was the basic element in my process: trying to absorb every single stimulus in my environment, so that I could intensify the sense of danger and fuel my role’s goal – the need to escape.
Do you think that contemporary interdisciplinary arts will be more and more present on the global landscape? What part does technology take in this phenomenon?
It’s sure that contemporary interdisciplinary arts will be more and more present on the global landscape. This is happening for a number of reasons. Firstly, nowadays artists tend to study many different disciplines apart from their art. Secondly, the internet is a great source of information and exchange. And thirdly we live in a “Do It Yourself (DIY)” era – because technology is cheaper, more accessible and user-friendly. As a result, experimentation is increasing, new ideas travel easier and conceptual dimensions are expanding.
As a performer, do you have any "role models", past or present, that inspire you?
There are many great actors that inspire me, especially when their acting talent is accompanied by beautiful personalities. Being a good actor is admirable for sure, but being a sensitive artist, whose actions and words resonate around the world in everyday life is a source of true inspiration. Fortunately, the list can be very long. And that’s what keeps me going.
Short statement describing your vision of the post-covid music business, do you think there will be notable changes?
The post-covid cinema will possibly reflect for some years the effects of the pandemic. Firstly, we will continue to see stories inspired by it, as this is our new reality. Furthermore, we will see more experimental DIY films, as the confinement reminded us that not a lot is needed to do art.
ACRESS & PERFORMING ENGINEER
VICKY MICHALOPOULOU - BIO
Vicky Michalopoulou is a Greek actress, performer, digital artist and multimedia theater researcher. She is currently based in Paris, France.
She has been working for more than ten years as a professional actress in Greece and has participated mostly in theatrical performances. She has been trained on Meisner’s Technique, Method Acting, Grotowski, as well as the Method of Theodoros Terzopoulos. Lately, her love for cinema led her to apply for the professional program Acting for the Camera at UCLA School of Theater, Film and TV. Successfully, she was one of the 16 worldwide actors admitted to this highly selective program for the year 2020-2021 and she is now pursuing her career as an On-Camera actor.
Vicky has also graduated from the School of Civil Engineering in the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and she is a certified pianist from the Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM).
Her desire to explore the possibilities of the art of theater in the digital era, led her to the joint Greek-French master on digital arts “Art, Virtual Reality and Multi-user systems of artistic expression”, which was held by the Athens School of Fine Arts and the University Paris 8 - Vincennes - Saint-Denis. Her research is entitled: "Performing Engineering Towards a Poor Interactive Multimedia Theater".
She calls herself a "Performing Engineer”, because she combines all her skills in order to create interactive multimedia performances. Her artistic goal is to communicate with the spectators, so that they create artistic events together. She has participated in international festivals (Ars Electronica Festival 2020, 15th Animart Festival, 17th Athens Digital Arts Festival, TiSFF, iFSAK, Cannes World Film Festival-Remember the Future).