In the Spotlight: Sidney Baucheron’s Role in Defining Fashion Film Aesthetics

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Hi everyone! Today, we are excited to interview our friend and long-time Filmmakersworld contributor: Sidney Baucheron, Lighting Director and Gaffer, based in Paris.

In the realm of film and commercial production, the role of a lighting director is both pivotal and poetic.

Thanks to his artistic genius and great technical expertise, Sidney has illuminated the sets of high-profile advertising campaigns and cinematic projects worldwide.

From Dior’s glamorous runways to Paco Rabanne’s bold visuals, Baucheron’s work grabs attention with its careful focus on mood and atmosphere. He uses light to tell stories, turning ordinary scenes into captivating visuals.

Sidney has also worked on major film sets including ‘Bastille Day’ (2016), ‘Midnight in Paris’ (2011), and ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ (2014).

Join us as we delve into the world of Sidney Baucheron, exploring his journey, his philosophies on lighting, and the remarkable impact of his work across the globe.

Hey Sidney! Can you tell us about your journey into the world of lighting and what initially attracted you to this field?

I was introduced to this industry as a child, thanks to my parents. My father is a gaffer, and my mother was initially a model before becoming a makeup artist. Growing up, I spent my holidays behind the scenes on various sets. By the time I was 15 or 16, I started working as a trainee with my father during the summer.

After turning 18, I paused my studies to explore different career paths. I’ve worked as a firefighter, sports and dance instructor, bartender, among other roles. At 18, I also started my own company focusing on wedding photography. Meanwhile, I occasionally continued to work as a spark with my father.

By the age of 24, I decided to pursue a career as a gaffer full-time, while keeping photography as a secondary job.

It became clear to me that being a gaffer was the perfect role on set for me. It combines technical knowledge and artistic vision in creating lighting. There are almost no rules or limits, just a budget to respect and the goal of achieving the most beautiful result. I found my path.

What has been the most formative experience in shaping your approach to lighting design? Did you have a mentor?

I didn’t have a mentor as a Lighting Designer, but all the projects I’ve done serve as an amazing library for me. I make note of every great idea I come across. I believe that every project can be a masterpiece if you decide to treat it as one, fully focusing your mind on it. Sure, some commercials are less interesting, but I always strive to do my best, whether it’s lighting a girl in front of a white backdrop, illuminating the Eiffel Tower, or lighting the desert at night.

Over the years, with each project, I’ve received increasingly complex requests. Thanks to the directors and DOPs who have trusted me, and the wonderful team I have now, we are creating beautiful settings for some highly technical projects.

You work for many Luxury Brands, how do you tailor your lighting strategies to fit the distinct styles of brands like these? And how is your relationship with directors and dops?

It’s not easy to explain because the workflow varies significantly between different clients, directors, and DOPs. However, my process typically involves three steps:

First, I talk with the director and/or DOP and review their references. After our discussion, I start working on my initial plan, creating the best lighting setup I can envision for the project. At this stage, I focus purely on creativity without considering budget, equipment, or potential problems.

Next, I send the light list and usually receive feedback from production regarding the budget. If my plan is close to their budget, I make some simplifications to align it. However, if the gap is too large, we need to rethink the lighting approach—this might involve reducing the scope, altering the creative concept, or cutting scenes. I always try to propose the best ideas to fit the budget, but at this point, I see myself more as an advisor, as the final decisions are made by the client, agency, production, director, and DOP.

Finally, we find a solution and work on adjustments until the day of the shoot.

What is the most challenging lighting situation you’ve encountered on set, and how did you resolve it?

Hard question… I often say that the YSL fashion show on the Eiffel Tower was, and will always be, the craziest set of my life. We had only two weeks to prepare a lighting setup that seemed almost impossible. For the show’s finale, the models were walking on the ceiling of the first stage of the Eiffel Tower, 65 meters above the ground, at night, dressed in black, with no lights around to assist, and without any authorization to light the Eiffel Tower or use drones.

The catwalk to light was 40 meters long, and I couldn’t set up any lights before midnight because of the public. By 5 am, the sun was rising.

The only solution I found was to rent the biggest crane in Europe, typically used for mounting wind turbines, and hang a massive 30-meter-long structure on it, with 11 lines of 6 moving lights. We built it from the ground up over two days and lifted it at midnight. We were ready to shoot by 1:30 am and wrapped by 5 am.

It’s incredible how challenging this setup was to prepare, but it’s definitely something I will only do once in my life.

Which project are you the proudest of, and what makes it particularly special to you?

It’s not easy to select just one project. Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked on more than 600 commercials, and there are a few I’m particularly proud of. Some stand out because of the challenge, like the YSL fashion show on the Eiffel Tower.

But I’m also very proud of smaller, simpler projects that achieve an original and beautiful result. Whenever the lighting feels magical to me, I’m proud of it. Achieving a perfect final result depends on many factors, but a few projects truly create top beauty references, and it’s always an honor to be part of such creations.

We know that you often have fun with your colleagues on set. Can you share any funny anecdotes that have happened to you?

Ahaha, it’s really true. I always say I come to set to have a good time with my team and create the most beautiful lighting. For me, if the atmosphere on set is smooth and positive, we can achieve a symbiosis that surpasses expectations.

I love to dance and have fun, especially when others on set are stressed and serious.

One example is when we lighten the mood by dancing in our corner to the set’s music. As long as we stay focused when needed, I enjoy making the most of the downtime with good moments.”

What are your next steps in your career? How do you see yourself in 10 years from now?

Far away! My goal is to stop in 2026. I feel fulfilled by this amazing experience, which has been a huge part of my life. But by the time I turn 35, I want to switch to something different, far from shooting. I have a more ethical project in mind, one that aligns more closely with my values. While I love this industry, I believe it no longer corresponds to the current values of our world.

I’m not entirely sure how I will navigate this transition yet, but I’ll figure it out. I might keep a connection to this job by doing a short film or a music video once a year. However, if in ten years I’m still here, it means I’ve missed my next goal.

Sideny Baucheron

Thank you so much Sidney for sharing your experience and these valuable insights with the community!
If you wanna learn more about Sidney Baucheron, go check @sidneybaucheron on Instagram.

Stay tuned for the next and in the meantime, if you missed our latest article, go check it out.

Much love!
FilmmakersWorld Team

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