VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Dhennin, Benoît

Benoît Dhennin
French videomaker


Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background

I started dance a short time after I started video. Since then, I try to put some of that work with dance and body approaches in general into my video and photographic work. I’ve studied photography, video and cinema, from the technical to the aesthetic. I’ve been influenced for years by the video work of Bill Viola and the theatre work of Claude Régy, because of what they both cause in my own body and soul.

2. When, how and why started you filming?

A school lent me a camera during a holiday week. That’s the best contribution a school has made to my work ! I was doing photography since I was 10… I was a quiet kid and not a social teenager, that helped to make photos. Now I feel better in my life but I’m still making pictures, probably because it helps me to approach the world at the same time as share what I am.
Also, what helps me is to find some of my emotions in the art work of the others which makes me wish to do the same, I guess.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

I don’t work from a subject but I find myself dealing with the body and its inner energies, or the movements of bodies in the space. My glance is on the direction of the external world at the same time as my internal world. My works are dealing with both of those extremities but for me it’s the same approach and goal.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?

I know that I love to be surprised by the reality and what happens in front of the camera. I try to be present with my camera in connection with the people and the space around me, and from that I try to record a movement of feelings, of emotions and surprises, those little details or general waves which happen when you have the patience to wait. But I try not to think about what I’m gonna do before I’m in it. I always hope that when I record, what is processing inside of me, under the surface, is going to come out.
So, I first try to find a place and a time to stay for a while with my glance. I do not record everytime or everything ; I follow my instinct first even if I feel sometimes like a scientist who watches an experience running on between two panes of glass.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

Recently I bought an SLR camera for making videos with manual photo lenses. I use mostly a 28mm, a 50 and an 85mm. In relation with the camera, I use FCP or Color for some color and level adjustments or, much less frequently, to play with some basic FX.

6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?

Actually, I don’t really know what new media is. I’m more involved in what artists have been trying to find for years, whatever the technology of the media is.
For now, I think that there is art with video and art with new technologies. I’m only working with the old video. I’m using internet to show my work, but it’s not the best way for a good quality and for a good participation of the audience. Internet is only good for the profession and the culture, not for art and a large audience. I think the art works as a body that bodies can feel. We need time in front of art, we need to walk from ourselves to it. And for me to click on a link is not making the audience more implicated with art. I feel more in connexion with dancers on a stage even if I can’t participate or modify what happens on it.
About the new technologies and the new tools, in general I don’t really like when something is too fast to make, because I appreciate taking time when I’m working. Also, I don’t want to produce too many images because I feel surrounded by them and I believe it’s a kind of pollution.
For myself I love new equipment because it’s great that I can walk with everything on my back. But I don’t feel very contemporary; I’m happy with a simple video camera and some screens to show the images.

7. How do you finance your films?
I work periodically as a photo teacher to have money and time during other periods. Sometimes I receive money or/and time for a project from a institution, but it takes a lot of time and energy to get it.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team? if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

I do both but I rarely work with visual artists. I work and have worked in duos with artists from dance, theatre, puppets and sound, because of what happens between the images and the medium of my collaborator. To collaborate means for me to find connections without mixing the disciplines. I also work alone, for self-portraits or portraits, or with my photographic work. For both of those ways, I wish to find something deep in myself which accords to the external world. Sometimes a connection with another helps, sometimes it’s easier alone !

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?

My friends, the dance community, Shiatsu massage and Chinese medicine, my travels. And still Claude Régy, Bill Viola… Luc Ferrari, Fellini, Godard, Duras. Raymonde Carasco… Artaud. Depardon, Eggleston, Dolorès Marat…

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?

I’d like to record and make visible what’s inside the body in terms of energies and inner movements…
I also wish to continue to record, edit and show my work with more serenity. I wish for my work to be useful for the audience, as a way to connect people to themselves.

Can works of yours viewed online besides on VideoChannel? Where?

On my website : ; in Marseille in P’silo Catalog.

List some links & resources