For Filmmaker and Photographer Andre de Nervaux, Andre has always found happiness in nostalgia; capturing the beauty in mundane moments before they pass by. We speak about the inspiration behind his recent film ‘Phosphenes’ – a letter to his younger self; his dreams and visions in film and how his art practice affects his overall well-being. Andre also shares some advice to those looking to break into film.
Without artists in this world nothing would be as beautiful as it is. So many things that wouldn’t conventionally be considered “art” are the things we take for granted everyday.
Tell us about your journey into film and photography
When I was younger I was always fascinated by the way things were visually pieced. The chance to capture something like a moment or memory has always been a big part of my journey into filmmaking and photography.
I have always been the annoying one in the friend group with a camera capturing mundane or random photos from a period of time, whether it was a funny photo to look back on, or a 10 second clip from a night I loved. I have always found happiness in nostalgia; maybe it’s partly from being grateful that those moments happened or it’s a way to look back at them in times of struggle, but it has always been something that has brought me joy.
Watching films that show different cultures and experiences has made me realise that however boring we think our lives are, they are different to someone else’s, you know? The ability to share stories and experiences from a photograph or a film is always at the forefront of my mind and is what led me onto the path I’m now on.
What or who are your favourite people, places, things to capture and why?
I love capturing moments I experience; not only is it amazing to look back on them but to express that in your art and creativity is also a powerful reflection. I also love capturing my friends in their authentic states; I am grateful and proud of them as individuals and I want to capture how they grow through film and photography.
I found your recent film ‘Phosphenes’ – A letter to a younger self, very powerful, how was this experience for you? What message do you hope it will send the viewer?
During the pandemic I struggled as many of us did with a lack of motivation, and a lack of creativity and ideas. I was reading stories on how people have been productive despite their hurdles during this pandemic and I wanted to use the extra time I had to make something meaningful. Having already made a short film back in 2020 about Covid isolation I wanted to branch out and explore a concept I had come across. I found a quote from a mental health charity which was, “Be the person you needed when you were younger” and that really struck a chord with me. It inspired me to reflect on my growth throughout the last 12months and all that I had gotten through, and furthermore the last few years of my life.
I’ve always been a big fan of documenting personal confessions or reflections. A film by Chantal Akerman called “News from Home” which is a Docu/experimental style where Chantal records her surroundings whilst voicing letters to her mother, really inspired me to be open and honest about what I would love to hear from my future self. Somewhat advice but more of a “you’re doing well” kind of vibe. I really hope it inspires people to feel they can be open and honest in their artwork and be proud of that. But most importantly if you have a vision or something you want to make without a budget make it!
To use filmmaking or photography as a way to express how I was feeling in a visual outburst tended to give me the escape I needed in darker times.
What are some of the challenges you typically face with your work? How do you overcome these?
A Lot of the time I wonder if my films/artwork are too niche/personal to be considered by my peers/fellow artists but then again I sometimes think that can be a benefit to stand out. I second guess a lot of my writing as I worry it can be too deep or too on the nose of the subject I’m reflecting, but I always try to follow my artistic inspirations which include the filmmaker/photographer Khalik Allah who has always stayed passionate and honest during his style of work capturing the streets of Harlem with such beauty and purity. Another huge inspiration is the late Jonas Mekas who was an experimental filmmaker/artist with over 200 films short and feature which were based on documenting the period of time he was in. He was in the circles of Andy Warhol and his films live on as a standpoint for artists with low funds but who have the desire to make something they’ve envisioned. One of my favourite quotes of his is “We need less perfect but more free films” and this really expresses every part of the experimental/contemporary art ethos which I love and admire so much.
Walk us through your creative process, what are the different stages of your work?
My creative process doesn’t follow a regular routine, it’s mostly getting into a feeling of free thinking where stresses are put aside and I am focused on my vision and thinking. I experience this a lot when I’m lying in bed funnily enough! I think it’s because it’s the part of the day that is the quietest and you have time to think and clear your mind. As I’m falling asleep, something I want to write for a film or focus on will pop into my mind and I will scramble to write it down! I would say this has probably happened the most with my short films. In terms of photography it’s more of a fast thinking moment where I see something in a certain light and can see the image in my mind I want to capture.
Do you have any advice for people looking to get into film and photography?
I think the best advice I can possibly give is, if you don’t have a camera GET ONE! Whether you can only afford a cheap one or just use your phone, just playing around with various visions and imagery can be satisfying to the mind. Also, if you know anyone close who is into something you want to get into, ask them for some tips! The worst thing that can happen is they don’t reply.
I have always found happiness in nostalgia; maybe it’s partly from being grateful that those moments happened or it’s a way to look back at them in times of struggle
How does creativity affect your overall well-being? And how do you feel when you create?
It started as a thing to express the various feelings I had growing up and to turn those reflections or dreams into something I could almost visually document. I think without this creative escape, growing up struggling with my mental health as many of us do, I would have been completely lost. I always struggled talking about my feelings or how I was dealing with certain situations. So to use filmmaking or photography as a way to express how I was feeling in a visual outburst tended to give me the escape I needed in darker times.
What are your hopes and dreams as a filmmaker?
In terms of filmmaking for festivals etc I would say the dream for me is to make a narrative feature that will be presented somewhere like Cannes – which has all the elements of my low-budget honesty and topics I feel are important to express on screen.
But in a work-life scenario the dream is to make money for making films/editing on projects that I love being a part of and to get to express my creativity and desire whilst earning a living.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have a few creative projects in mind which I’ve wanted to make for a while but considering things from the last year and a half have been pushed back or delayed it’s been difficult to plan! As I’m sure everyone has experienced. But the next project I have been considering is a photography zine based on a roll of film per feature. My idea is for people to use a 24-exposure roll of film to capture 24 frames of something based on one theme or one day, and then present that in a collection/zine. Hopefully I can get going with this soon and I’ll be searching for people to contribute very soon!
And lastly, what does art mean for you?
Art to me has never been a way of description, to me it’s always been a way of connection and expression. Without artists in this world nothing would be as beautiful as it is. So many things that wouldn’t conventionally be considered “art” are the things we take for granted everyday. To me it’s having the power to express yourself creatively, whether people connect to it or not.
To view more of Andre’s work: