Have you ever noticed that after watching a movie, when closing credits are on the screen, we remember the name of a director or a producer but not the name of the person who started everything – the author of the idea? It is the most difficult thing: to produce the storyline which will gain rating points, to create the characters, whom people will love, to write “once upon a time” and not to fizzle out, to develop the idea and not to lose the passion.
“Last year The Fifth Element celebrated 20 years, but I can vividly remember how I came to the Luc’s studio and lost my mind: I saw in reality everything that was born in my mind – futuristic decorations of the airport of the future. It was amazing!”… – says Patrice Garcia, designer, artist, sculptor, comic illustrator, producer of the advertisement clips for Chanel, Dior and L’Oréal, author of ideas, scriptwriter and creator of the characters for the movies of the French film director Luc Besson The Fifth Element, Arthur and the Minimoys, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets…
OLESYA: Patrice, today you are a famous scriptwriter and creator of some world-famous characters. When did you start drawing?
PATRICE: Since I can remember I have always been drawing. I didn’t have many toys in my childhood – I made up my own toys on the paper. I was fond of fantastic creatures. I watched black-and-white films, read a lot and never let a pencil out of my hands. When I was at school I learned how to draw comics, then I began to create some film clips and advertisement clips and later I was invited to work on television. And in the end the cinema happened in my life.
OLESYA: How did your creative alliance with Luc Besson start?
PATRICE: Accidentally. Once I came up with a new story about doors between dimensions and about a hero, who had to save the world (afterwards that role was played by Bruce Willis). I thought that it could turn out to be a good cinema. After a while, I found out that Luc Besson came to Toulon, which is situated not far from my native town, in order to present his new movie Atlantis. I prepared a file with my ideas and characters, but I had no opportunity to come up to Luc and I asked my friend Éric Serra to help me. In a year Luc’s assistant phoned me and asked if I would like to work with the director on the movie The Fifth Element. That was my path to the cinema industry: one year in Paris and six months in England.
OLESYA: That sounds fantastic!
PATRICE: Perhaps, the fiction often happens in my life because I create it with my own hands. For example, one of our projects with Luс was realized thanks to my wife Celine. She wrote a book of beautiful letters for our son and for children from all over the world. I suggested her making illustrations for it. That was how the small creatures Minimoys were born. We sent the manuscript with drawings to the publishing house, which belonged to Luc Besson’s father. In a while he phoned and said that he was reading and crying – he was deeply touched by the story! And he offered us to show the book to Luc and to make a movie!
I would not say, that it was luck, which led me to success. Most likely it was hard work.
OLESYA: You are a lucky person. Can you share the recipe of success with us?
PATRICE: I would not say, that it was luck, which led me to success. Most likely it was hard work. In order to create characters for the Arthur and the Minimoys movie I made hundreds of sketches of fantastic creatures until Luc approved them. I drew too animal-like creatures or not charming enough one… There was a lot of work and a lot of drawings. But actually, the most important thing is to do the right thing, to devote yourself to the profession you love and to be kind to other people.
OLESYA: How can you create negative creatures while being a kind man?
PATRICE: I am a kind man, but sometimes a have a willing to give a slap to cads and rude fellows around me. I fight with all these negative emotions through my art. But I am not keen on nightmares! When I create a character and realize that he or she is too creepy or disgusting and can frighten or dishearten I add him or her some funny details: big ears, funny tails or forelocks – for charm!
My inspiration is my wife Celine. We have been together for more than 30 years already. She writes and I draw.
OLESYA: Partice, you have created new universes, new cities, non-existent vehicles, incredible alien creatures, for example, the singer with blue skin – Diva Plavalaguna, who was not saved by the hero of Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element movie. It is so monumental and impressive! What is the source of your inspiration?
PATRICE: My inspiration is my wife Celine. We have been together for more than 30 years already. She writes and I draw. We argue a lot, but we always find a compromise. I like such a confrontation of ideas – we feed each other in our arts.
OLESYA: What is the most difficult thing in your profession?
PATRICE: To create a story, that will be equally understandable and interesting in Japan, in Russia, in France and the character who will be loved by the entire world. Valerian from the Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets movie was such an attempt. I really respect the artists as Hayao Miyazaki, who can create perfect worlds without referring to the real context. His characters exist beyond the life circumstances and at the same time they are understandable and very close to the audience.
OLESYA: Do you believe that fiction can happen in our real life?
PATRICE: The entire life is about fiction. Yesterday we had only radio, but today we have smartphones and computers. Who knows what fantastic discoveries are waiting for us tomorrow.
Author | | Olesya Sudzhan, editor-in-chief
Translation || Daria Gorelik
Photos from the private collection of Patrica Garcia