Meet the Master of Short Form Content: Olivier Philippe

Olivier Philippe (left) behind the scenes of his film “Carma”

Making it in the film and television industry takes more than just skill, it takes a unique perspective and the ability to be constantly coming up with new and innovative ideas. While becoming successful is one thing, being able to continuously innovate and expand upon one’s expertise is another. 

Award-winning Director Olivier Philippe has more than just a unique eye and a taste for elegance; he has mastered a multitude of skill sets on a level that is beyond impressive. His seasoned expertise has given him the foundation and capacity to develop a creative approach to directing and producing short form content—something he has become known for around the world. Working on directing short form content for TV franchises that are household names such as “Top Chef,” “The Great British Bake Off,” as well as his work with iconic French fashion house Dior, Olivier Philippe has established his reputation for capturing high-quality content on an international scale. 

“Olivier has all the necessary qualities to know how to express and show the ‘vision’ of the project. He draws, writes dialogues, sets up a mood board, describes a set, and as a result everything is super clear. It allows him to bring everyone into his world instantly,” explains Florence Hermieu, an executive producer from Elephant at Work, who’s worked with Olivier on countless projects for luxury brands including Dior.

Olivier Philippe began honing his creative eye at a young age. Growing up in a Parisian suburb Olivier was the only child in his large family to be attracted to the artistic world. Drawing, writing, and taking pictures soon became his favored way of expressing himself. On top of going to school, he began writing stories, producing comics, and inventing television programs in his room, often “borrowing” his father’s camera to produce his first films and photo novels.

Olivier Philippe staging his first shoot for G.I. Joe

At age 10, with an abundance of imagination Olivier was presented with an exciting opportunity when Hasbro offered to donate G.I. Joe figures to his school for an exhibition devoted to World War II. His teachers had already taken note of his extraordinary skill and passion for the arts, so they requested he create a staging for the exhibition. When Hasbro discovered his work, they invited him to contribute his work to be included in the advertisement G.I. Joe in their next catalog. 

An opportunity that encouraged him to continue pursuing his love of the arts, it was only a few years later that he would go on to direct his first film, which was for La Savonnerie Des Deux Monde, a soap company near Paris. 

Among Olivier Philippe’s credits is the 2017 film “Carma,” which he wrote, directed and produced. Following the character of Carma, a special forces agent turned private enforcer, who must handle her dangerous profession and motherhood head-on, Olivier created the film as a test concept, which he plans to expand into a series. “Carma,’ which was shot in Paris and Los Angeles, earned more than 20 awards at international festivals, including the Best Crime Film Awards at the Los Angeles Film Awards and New York Film Awards, and the Best Action Short at the London Independent Film Awards. 

“What interested me was to work on the hero’s flaws, her humanity, her fragility and also something directly linked to femininity,” explains Olivier. “I like films with strong female characters and I really wanted to write and direct a story about a real ‘warrior,’ but without forgetting the femininity of this kind of character. Often it is a facet that is forgotten in movies.” 

At the end of the day the tight filming schedule and shooting location being in a real hotel presented some challenges and constraints, but Olivier Philippe is known for his ability to view challenges from a different perspective than most people.

“My greatest strength is certainly having no border. Thinking differently or thinking ‘outside the box’ are expressions that suit me well. I think my ‘Swiss Army Knife’ side was a very useful quality for this project. I am lucky to know how to do several things quite well,” admits Olivier.

Olivier’s capacity to write, create storyboards, maneuver easily as a cameraman, and design the lighting, all while directing the actors were skills that proved collectively invaluable during the making of “Carma.”

“If all of the sudden I had an idea for a shot during the shoot, which was not foreseen in the scenario, I can immediately explain it with a drawing, or even take the camera myself to shoot the plan very quickly. It was essential on this project.”

Perhaps one of the best examples of Olivier’s versatility is “Le Blog de Bob,” which proved his ability to effectively experiment with genres, and ultimately earned the Best Project Award at the TV LAB France Television Awards in 2013. The project, which Olivier wrote, hosted and directed,  follows the adventures of Bob, a memorable journalist who enjoys his status and loves meeting celebrities.

“Imagine following the private life of a TV reporter who dreams of becoming Jimmy Fallon, but who has the demeanor of House and lives more in the atmosphere of Californication,” Olivier explains. “The idea of ​​Bob’s Blog is to be inside the head of an endearing journalist, very nice, but a little borderline. He always finds himself in somewhat complicated situations with the artists whom he will interview, and whom he knows very well personally. He tells his life as he could in a diary, or on his blog in a voiceover during the show.” 

Olivier Philippe enlisted some real life stars in the show who didn’t hesitate to exaggerate on situations, which made the story line incredibly unique and also blurred the line between reality and fiction. 

He says, “We started from real information related to the news and promotion of an artist like the release of a film, a series, a record, or a show. But everything else is written and staged. In short, the events and character of this TV show are inspired by true stories. The thing is… Nobody knows where reality ends and fiction begins. This concept was unique back then and still is.”

A vastly different, but equally impressive display of his creative abilities is evident in the series “24 Hours in…”, which he created for France’s TV5 MONDE back in 1998. The network wanted a special on-air event to help separate them from others, and Olivier was just the director to come up with something fresh and unique.  

Olivier said, “Have you ever watched a show combining a 24-hour ‘telethon’ with ‘60 Minutes’ and ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’ completely live from a foreign country? Well, you’ve got an answer.” 

In charge of directing and consulting, as well as leading the editorial content, such as the reports made in each city, as well as co-hosting the project alongside Karine Lemarchand, the magnitude of this project cannot be overstated. 

Still from “24 Hours in…” the Marrakesh edition

Culminating in 24 hours of live television taking place from a different major capital in each episode, Olivier Philippe brought the extremely ambitious operation to Marrakech, the Ivory Coast, Hanoï, Montréal, Paris and other major cities around the world. With “24 Hours in…” Olivier’s unique style of bending genres combined with his creative approach to content once again led to the creation of a hit program.

“Jamy’s World” hosted by Jamy Gourmaud, one of the most famous TV personalities in France, is another series where Olivier Philippe’s unique vision came in hot demand. A two-hour program that mixes discovery, adventure and international travel with scientific information, “Jamy’s World,” which began airing in 2014 on FRANCE 3, tackles themes such as space conquest, tornado hunters, volcanoes and animals.

Joining the “Jamy’s World” team in 2015, Olivier Philippe came on board to direct challenging sequences for the show, which required adaptability on any and all terrain and climatic conditions. He was chosen to join the team for his vast skill set, including his ability to wield a variety of cameras and machinery, all while ensuring high-quality images. 

“His ability to constantly question the way to produce is a real asset. Most directors have their habits, their teams, the material with which they are comfortable. Olivier changes everything with each new shoot! Not for fun, but because Jamy’s adventures change each time. You have to be inventive! And Olivier is,” says Emmanuel Pernoud, journalist and producer of “Jamy’s World.”  

“To work with Olivier is to work with a ‘Yes Man.’ If I say, ‘Olivier, do you think you can film in the middle of a thunderstorm and capture the impact of a lightning bolt on the top of a tree? And can you make it look very aesthetically pleasing and as thrilling as a Marvel movie? He will say ‘Of course,’ and he will make it happen.” 

When Carrefour, a global leader in food retail that operates more than 12,000 stores, was looking for a new way of communicating with the public in 2018 to show how deeply they cared about the quality of products in their stores, they naturally sought out Olivier. They wanted Olivier to imagine a way to tell this kind of story alongside famous chef Jean Imbert, the winner of “Top Chef.” 

As an answer to Carrefour’s mission, Olivier Philippe directed “1,2,3 Frais Partez!” a series of videos delivering unique seasonal recipes. Olivier proposed sending the famous chef directly into the field to meet the farmers and pick out the strawberries, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables himself. The series then cut to him outdoors on the farm, cooking one of his original recipes. It was an absolute success, with the videos being watched millions of times on the Carrefour Youtube page. 

On another occasion when Pernod-Ricard, a French brand specializing in the manufacturing and distribution of wine and spirits such as Absolut vodka, Jameson scotch and Mumm champagne, wanted a video to symbolize the spirit of brotherhood, comradeship and conviviality they turned to Olivier Philippe, who is regularly solicited by the company for their external and internal communication. 

For Pernod-Ricard, Olivier Philippe directed “Stand By Me,” a moving video featuring dozens of musicians, singers, and a rapper joining together to sing the iconic ‘Stand By Me.’ Shot in more than 30 countries in locations including distilleries, pubs, barns, out on the street, in front of monuments, in the mountains of Switzerland, on boats and on top of buildings, the video required months of preparation. 

Revealing Olivier Philippe’s skill for nailing his signature cinematic style whilst working on large scale productions under unique conditions,“Stand By Me,” which took home the Grand Prix Award for Best Film from the International Corporate Film Festival, became a cornerstone reference in the world of corporate communication.

At the end of the day, it is clear that Olivier Philippe doesn’t just direct. His ability to write, create storyboards, operate a camera, manage lighting, edit, think outside the box and work in intense and unusual circumstances is what gives him such a uniquely creative approach to short form content. From science documentaries, femme fatale films, corporate communication and hit TV series, he is constantly changing styles and experimenting with genres in a way that not only keeps his style fresh, but inspires the rest of the industry to continue innovating as well.