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Interview

Q&A: 'Club Utopia' Directors Charlie Tronchot & Charlotte Roberts

by Christina Donoghue on 14 September 2021

Club Utopia is a tribute to the UK nightlife scene, the dance floor, and self-expression. As Charlie Tronchot and Charlotte Robert's sensual fashion film indulges our fantasies in dreaming for the long-lost clubbing scene, undisrupted by COVID-19, editorial assistant Christina Donoghue spoke to both creatives to find out more about the film, and their inspirations.

Club Utopia is a tribute to the UK nightlife scene, the dance floor, and self-expression. As Charlie Tronchot and Charlotte Robert's sensual fashion film indulges our fantasies in dreaming for the long-lost clubbing scene, undisrupted by COVID-19, editorial assistant Christina Donoghue spoke to both creatives to find out more about the film, and their inspirations.

Club Utopia is a tribute to the UK nightlife scene, the dance floor, and self-expression. As Charlie Tronchot and Charlotte Robert's sensual fashion film indulges our fantasies in dreaming for the long-lost clubbing scene, undisrupted by COVID-19, editorial assistant Christina Donoghue spoke with both creatives to find out more about the film, and their inspirations.

Christina Donoghue: How did you both get into filmmaking?

Charlotte Roberts: I'd always been obsessed with magazines and films and knew I wanted to be a part of creating those worlds somehow. I had a fascination with being able to tell a narrative, and I think film is a medium that really allows that to be explored. There's a huge amount of potential in film and a real ability to push those ideas and boundaries to the next level, which I find really intriguing.

Charlie Tronchot: Cinema plays a big part in my work and inspirations. I remember watching David Lynch's Mulholland Drive when I was little and having vivid dreams/nightmares during the night. I completely fell in love with Lynch's world. There's a self-help book written by Lynch on creativity and consciousness, called Catching the Big Fish, which I find myself keep going back to from time to time.

I discovered fashion films first through Pierre Debusschere's work. At the time, I didn't even know what a fashion film was, and I became utterly fascinated by the movements, ambience, and music involved. Age of Aquarius is a particular favourite of mine.

Fashion film is a very exciting medium to experiment with. It feels very spontaneous and intuitive to me. I am also inspired by the narration you can give to the clothes through movement and the ambience you can create through music.

'Club Utopia'

CD: How did each of your roles differ in the making of Club Utopia?

CR: We both drove the creative force behind it. Charlie has such a strong aesthetic that I was really excited about. My styling tends to lean more on the sexier side, and I often veer towards lingerie, bold colours and quite revealing looks at times. I naturally thought both me and Charlie would work really well together. We both took a very hands-on approach and had intense WhatsApp conversations on nearly every aspect of the film up until the shoot day. The day after, I was a bit like, 'where's my morning update from Charlie!' Ha! Charlie is incredible; she's exceptionally talented in multiple ways. I truly learnt a lot from working with her.

CT: Charlotte and I met through Instagram and decided to go for a coffee to discuss different ideas we could work on together. I suggested this film which I've been meaning to do for at least three years. I felt it was the right moment, Charlotte, being without hesitation, the perfect match for it. Collaboration is very important to us both and became integral throughout our whole working process, from the casting to the glam choices… we wanted to work with incredible women who all have different and unique personalities, not changing who they are but enhancing their own way of dancing.

I absolutely loved working with Charlotte. She's always fun, brings the best energy on set, and knows exactly how to translate a vision into her unique style, perfectly. We are already discussing our next collaboration together.

CD: What was the inspiration for Club Utopia?

CR: Charlie showed me the reference she had in mind for this film. It was this amazing series of dance videos from the early 2000s, with these incredible lasers and intense colours. We'd just come out of lockdown, and I was yearning to do something fun, sexy and inspirational at the same time - that had some energy to it. I was really excited about using these videos as a springboard to make our own film and create, as the title infers, this kind of 'club utopia' that felt very free and kinetic. I think we both wanted to create something quite liberating and euphoric to celebrate that kind of connection you can feel on those wild nights out in a dark, sexy club. It's almost a love letter to the dance floor in a way.

CT: In terms of inspiration, a lot of it is taken from the Daft Punk area of music; there's a certain French vibe to it. As Charlotte said, the starting point was this series of dance videos I discovered. I am also very inspired by my friend, Remi Mazet, a music producer who made the soundtrack for Club Utopia. He's an amazing artist, and his music plays a big role in bringing out the fun and style of the film.

'Club Utopia'

CD: There's quite an 80s feel to the film... would you agree, and were these aesthetics intentional?

CR: Yes. Looking at it now, the colours are quite reflective of that 80s palette. We didn't want it to appear too nostalgic or hooked to one particular era, so I think we were keen not to make it too obviously noughties/eighties etc. I think this developed over time as we prepped and perhaps wasn't overtly intentional.

CT: DOP Ben Marshall helped me bring my vision to life on set, and we decided to use a particular filter that offered an aura of 80s reminiscence. We still wanted the film to be seen in a contemporary light, though, which we think we achieved through the style and representation of the women we chose.

CD: Are there any film or fashion filmmakers you admire in particular?

CR: Well, it goes without saying, Nick is a huge pioneer of the way fashion films are made and consumed; he really changed the game. I also love directors like Eric Rohmer for his style and use of colour and Bigas Luna. I always go back to directors like Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders, who I think are both geniuses. I also love Tyrone and Frank Lebon; their films are always so beautiful and raw. I particularly loved Tyrone's Nike's music video for Frank Ocean. Anything that has a bit of subversion or oddity; I like when things don't quite make sense.

CT: Nick is definitely a huge inspiration for me. He's one of the reasons I wanted to move to London and try my luck at SHOWstudio. London just felt very creatively free to me. A Nick Knight favourite of mine is the fashion film Joie de Vivre - showcasing Gareth Pugh A/W 21.

A lot of my inspirations come from old movies with a retro-futuristic vibe, such as Blade Runner. Colour is essential to my work.

Most of my influences in filmmaking are pretty dark... Lynch, Tarantino, Kubrick are all huge inspirations to me.

CD: What do you want your viewers to take away from the film, if anything at all?

CR: A feeling of optimism and freedom... we want Club Utopia's viewers to be ignited with a sense of nostalgia for the good ol' clubbing days.

CT: This is a very empowering film, and at its core, celebrates women. I wanted to portray a sense of freedom in every way, from the way the women express themselves with their bodies to how strong and independent they are without seeking any validation. I truly see them as superheroes.

Being very involved in the music scene, the aim was also to show my support to all the clubs that have been closed for over a year during COVID-19.

'Club Utopia'
Interviewer:
Interviewees:
Charlotte Roberts, Charlie Tronchot

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