Exclusive Interview with Elia Petridis, Director and Owner of L.A. Production Company Filmatics
Elia Petridis is an accomplished director, screenwriter, and creative director with over a decade of experience in feature films, music videos, and immersive storytelling. He founded production company Filmatics in 2007 and immersive entertainment agency Fever Content in 2017. The two companies work together as a transmedia network, exploring innovative ways to tell stories across mediums. Elia brings a strong narrative and artistic focus to his work, utilizing music, storytelling and emerging technology to create highly engaging media experiences for all. He released live-action horror VR experience, Eye for an Eye: A Séance in Virtual Reality supported by an expanded companion short film and an original music score designed to deepen the VR experience for multiple viewings. Beyond interactive, Elia is best known for writing and directing The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez, starring Academy Award winner Ernest Borgnine in his final on-screen performance and Academy nominee June Squibb. He has also directed numerous music videos for major labels including Sub Pop, Def Jam, Sony Music and more.
Filmatics which was founded by Elia is an award-winning film production company based in Los Angeles and London, offering technical and creative production services. From independent feature films to music videos to viral media, our stable of creative talent specializes in the unique delivery of compelling content that intimately connects with an audience.
Elia Petridis has also worked closely with American musician Jesca Hoop, combining their artistic talents to create stunning visual stories to bring life to the songwriter’s musical perspective. The two artists have worked on five uniquely collaborative music videos together, each with its own aesthetic and cinematic style, expertly produced to match the emotional arch of the track itself. Their first collaboration, “The Kingdom,” is a tribal fever dream in which Petridis envisioned, and brought to life, the many alter egos within Hoop’s melodic story. Birthed in a dream-like state, it’s meant to capture a mirror image of how Petridis felt when she first heard Hoops music. “City Bird” explores the life of the homeless in downtown Los Angeles, where Jesca had begun her music career. With the use of visual effects like stop motion and claymation-esque props, it follows the story of a homeless boy, desolate and wandering the city streets, before eventually settling into an empty, ghost-ridden home.
Their most recent collaboration is a simplistic take on Hoops music that still leaves a lasting impression with viewers. “Outside Of Eden” was shot on 16mm film in a single live take, a decision that effortlessly captures the talent of Hoop as she harmonizes with 12-year old Justis’s ethereal vocals. Stripped down and tender, it’s a departure from the storytelling-heavy collaborations of the past, but one that captures Hoop in all her glory. Of the newest collaboration, Petridis says, “We wanted to do something sweet, simple, and innocent for Outside Of Eden to help preserve the youthful wonderment that the song is trying to protect. Inspired by videos on The Blogoteque, and being a longtime fan of the music, it was a pleasure to capture the charm and sincerity of Jesca’s live shows in this lovely public space.”
I got the chance to talk to this visionary director about his film making and artistic career;
Hi Elia how are you and welcome to OLC! So for all our followers out there tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a Greek Lebanese filmmaker, raised in Dubai by the Brits and the Americans, been working in LA for the last 20 years. I run a production company and an immersive entertainment agency; Filmatics and Fever Content.
Where did you develop your passion for film making? Do you remember the very first project you got a chance to direct and what was it?
My parents loved films. They were and still are watching everything they can get their hands on. So I had nowhere to run! The first film I directed was in my living room at 16 with my friends. Right after that started shooting 16mm at the NYFA during the summer, and the rest kind of took of from there. My first film was about bullying and standing up for yourself. I wasn’t bullied as a kid at all. I think I just had a nose for story and that story landed on my lap that summer. I was born with congenital nistagmus which gives me some funny characteristics so I’m certainly drawn to underdog characters.
How did your production company Filmatics come about?
Filmatics was born to house my thesis film out of USC Film School during my MFA program. I wanted to own the film as opposed to letting the school own it so I needed an LLC 🙂 I built it for the future!
Now you’ve just directed the video for Jesca Hoop’s latest single “Outside of Eden”, how did you both meet and team up together for this video?
This is my sixth video with Jesca. We’ve been friend for over ten years. We met at a bar. Right after one of her sets back in 2005. She was playing in a club by sea, over in Santa Monica and a friend told me to go. I loved the music so much that waddled over to the bar afterwards and tried to connect. Quickly thereafter she borrowed a book from me called Tulip about the history of the famous flower. Hard core fans will see a nice Easter egg in that moment.
When a artist asks you to direct a music video for them, how do you come up with an idea for the song? Take me through the thought process?
Most of it is creating problem solving. An artist will usually have some lose idea that they’ve expressed they’d like to explore. If that’s not around then the song itself, obviously, is my first stop. I determine how it makes me feel, and what it makes when yearn to see when I close my mind and watch the projection screen on the back of my eyelids. Then I sit with my art director and we try and get a little closer to that feeling. What human truth is it latching onto? Themes are important to me. Also technique and a little wow factor that’s unexpected. With Outside Of Eden, we thought shooting on 16mm was that nice touch.
What’s the ultimate goal you hope to reach in your career?
Well I’ve made a feature so I’m going back to that at some point soon. I’m very much enjoying pioneering in the realm of immersive entertainment. I just directed an immersive music video in VR which was a great challenge and very rewarding so I’m dead curious to see where the medium goes.
Who’s a director currently that inspires you and what do you love most about there work?
That’s a great question. I think Damien Chazelle is one to watch right now as an American auteur taking the reigns from his predecessor. Paul Thomas Anderson is still unrivaled, and his latest music video with Thom Yorke (Anima) was exceptional.
Is there any projects currently on the horizon that you can tell us about, that you’re excited for?
There are but, no I cannot talk about them unfortunately. They’re still in the realm of music. We do have an original VR series we’re developing as well centered around extra terrestrials.
What advice do you have for any aspiring directors?
Make as much content as you can. Hone your craft. Get good at what you do, don’t wait for anyone to give you the permission. No matter the budget, keep making things so you can continue to learn. Everything else will follow suit. And don’t stop watching. Stay inspired. And surround yourself with film-maklng peers that challenge you to do your best work!