Art captures a film’s soul
Digital art pioneer Stephan Martinière explains how his love of photography helped him visualise key moments of the new film Alpha – before it had even been started
It’s common that concept artists start work at the early stages of filmmaking, but French artist Stephan Martinière’s work on recently released film Alpha was pre-pre-production.
“Usually, when I’m brought on a film it’s to create concepts: ideas for designs of vehicles, environments or costumes,” he says, “yet occasionally I’m asked to capture the aesthetic of a film.” This was the case when film director Albert Hughes (Dead Presidents, From Hell, The Book of Eli) got in touch with Stephan and tasked him with creating 10 images that would help the director pitch the film.
The film, released this August, is a prehistoric tale of a boy, who while trying to reunite with his lost tribe, befriends a wolf. Stephan – who has experience on films such as I, Robot, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ready Player One – relished the prospect of working at this stage of the production.
“Working this early in movie development is very pleasant,” he says. “You’re one-on-one with the director, with very in-depth communication regarding the project. And this project’s aim was specific, in that the objective was to create photographic images that captured pivotal moments in the film, like the buffalo hunt at the beginning, or when the main character is saved by his wolf companion.”
Stephan had to think much more like a cinematographer or photographer than a concept artist. “The focus was on creating iconic visuals of the prehistoric landscape by playing with lighting, colours and mood,” he says.
The artist didn’t have to search far to become inspired for the assignment: “Because the aim was to create
The focus was on creating iconic visuals of the prehistoric landscape…
something photorealistic, I took inspiration from a lot of photography, including my own.”
For this project Stephan made particular use of the dramatic lighting of where he lives: Santa Fe, New Mexico. “I’m perpetually in awe of the sunsets here… I’ve gotten into taking a lot of photos of the skies, with the vast landscapes and mountains. The colours of the skies here inspired much of how I approached painting the skies for the film.”
You can see more of Stephan’s film work here: www.martiniere.com/film.
Based on conversations he had with director Albert Hughes, Stephan Martinière helped visualise key scenes from Alpha.
The dramatic skies over Santa Fe, New Mexico provided Stephan with plenty of inspiration for the project.
Alpha charts the companionship that develops between a boy and a wolf, set in prehistoric Europe. Stephan produced 10 pieces of art that enabled the director to pitch successfully for the film’s funding.
By depicting the same location at different times of the year, Stephan helped to convey the scale and ambition of the film.