Internationally Acclaimed Tabletop Director Etienne Proulx Joins Free Society for Exclusive North American Representation
The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged and changed the way nearly every sector works. That is especially true in tabletop the world, where physical studios and specialized equipment are required.
With the signing of internationally acclaimed tabletop specialist Etienne Proulx to exclusive North American representation (except Quebec) – building on an existing two-year relationship in Canada – Toronto-based studio Free Society is proving that tabletop talent can serve clients beyond borders and without in-person participation.
A master craftsman with over 32 years of set experience – 20 of those years specialising in liquid styling – Etienne combines great artistry with a complete understanding of every technical aspect involved in shooting tabletop and liquids.
In the past year, Proulx has been able to apply that skill to work for US clients, including PepsiCo, Nespresso, McDonald’s and Budweiser. Thanks to a zero-latency 1080p communication system at Free Society, Proulx is able to share his work in Toronto remotely with clients, regardless of their location. “They see everything that I see in real time,” Etienne says, noting that the system allows clients to have a deeply participatory experience without having to deal with the expense and time associated with travel.
“People have learned that with Zoom, shooting remotely is really easy and people no longer need to sit in a studio to get great work done,” adds President and CEO, Radke Film Group, Edie Weiss, noting that as Canada’s premier food and tabletop production company, their state of the art 3000-square-foot main stage and an 1100 square foot insert stage is paired with a complete rigging shop that rivals any other tabletop facility in the world. The facility boasts the latest high-speed motion control equipment, including three high-speed motion control cranes/model movers, two Phantom 4K cameras, three Red Dragon cameras, a wide assortment of 35mm cine lenses. It also has a custom-built convection glass shooting oven with broiler attachment, complete commercial prep kitchen and in-house Previz Artists, SFX team, retouchers, and full 3D and large format printing capabilities.
That said, through strategic partnerships that Free Society has made with other studios, Proulx is also able to work in person in Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago. “What we have here in Toronto is a highly specialized facility but it also has highly specialized talent to support Etienne. It’s better for the project to work in the ecosystem we have built around him. But we can pick up and go to Miami or Chicago if it best serves the client,” says Executive Producer, Managing Partner Tony Dimarco.
The environment in the Toronto studio is what allows Proulx to remain committed to research and development, a hallmark of his approach. He focuses on texture, practical rigging and FX to find the best never seen images.
“I want to be the one who knows the most about what we’re discussing in every meeting after the pitch. I do my own work and we have a great treatment team and a top-of-the-line previz team that rivals any top post house,” says Proulx. “At the start of every job, I spend about a week in the studio with the product doing R&D to find an epic angle, interesting movements to use in the work or a new way to transition from one shot to another. Free Society has the best system I’ve ever seen and that’s my canvas for the whole job.”
That approach to innovation brought a spry levity to recent work for Pepsi wherein Proulx painstakingly perfected ice stunts and worked with an ice carver to bring personality to ice cubes. He coaxed a velvety vision of coffee for Starbucks’ canned Nitro blend. And for Nespresso, he used modern camera movements and seamless transitions to transform powerful cinema light into a sun-like source to create perfect shadows in-camera throughout the spot.
As he says, “I shoot stuff on camera that a lot of people do in post.”
Managing Partner/Executive Producer
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