In the mid-1990s, Ethan Tobman left Montreal to study film in New York. He today lives in Los Angeles, multiplies top-level projects and collaborates with the star of the moment: Taylor Swift.
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This fall, the 43-year-old production designer signs the artistic direction of the last two music videos of the American, anti hero Y jeweled, which have racked up millions of views on YouTube. She also appears in the credits ofvery goodthis 10-minute musical short film that the singer-songwriter herself directed, and which should pick up a Grammy nomination on Tuesday.
La relation professionnelle entre Ethan Tobman et Taylor Swift a débuté en 2019 avec The Man, une chanson tirée de l’album Lover qu’elle souhaitait mettre en images. L’extrait a récolté beaucoup de succès, et l’année suivante, la chanteuse a retenu ses services pour Cardigan, une pièce du disque Folklore.
Concocté en pleine pandémie, le vidéoclip a confirmé leur chimie.
[Taylor Swift] It inspires me every time we work together. She is an amazing leader. She has extraordinary ideas, but she remains open to suggestions.
Ethan Tobman weighs his every word. Probably due to confidentiality agreements, he avoids making too specific comments about the artist whose projects are often ambitious and always top secret.
However, he gives himself the right to say that he likes their collaborations because Taylor Swift wants to “create universes”.
It’s one of the reasons his music resonates with so many people. She is an amazing storyteller.
Ethan Tobman on Taylor Swift
He continues: “Every time I read the lyrics of his songs, I feel like I am transported to a movie, to a novel. They are all very emotionally charged. And your clips must convey this emotional charge. »
From Madonna to Beyonce
Ethan Tobman grew up in Montreal, where his parents still live. He was only 17 years old when he left the Quebec metropolis to study at New York University with the goal of becoming a director. The first few years were not easy, he says. After presenting a short film at the Cannes Film Festival, his future seemed promising, but when the industry collapsed after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he was forced to work as a waiter to pay the rent.
Determined to break into the Hollywood market despite going full circle, Tobman put his drawing talents to work for renowned photographers such as Mario Testino and Steven Klein as a production designer. His experience later propelled him into the world of music videos (give to me All your love of madonna, Training by Beyonce, There are no tears to cry of Ariana Grande), commercials, television series (mosquito coast, pam and tommy) and, finally, feature films.
Tobman also oversaw the design of the sets of Room (2015), this Oscar-nominated drama portraying a mother held captive in a bedroom with her son. “When I was younger, I tried to build my reputation by thinking only in terms of the stage. I read rotten scripts, but because the action was set in space, in 1940 or whatever original setting, I was up for it. And all the projects I was involved in failed or went unnoticed.
“My career started to take off when I changed my mindset,” he continues. Today, I choose stories that move me. Because my work is emotional architecture: I create spaces that must represent the search for character. When a character is detached from the world around him, I have to create an environment detached from the viewer, so that we feel what he feels. »
well stocked menu
This fall, Ethan Tobman also appears in the credits of the feature film The menu (in French, The menu) as a production designer. Directed by Mark Mylod (Succession), this horror comedy, which will be released on November 18, tells the story of lovers (Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult) who visit a desert island to eat in one of the most famous restaurants in the world, without knowing that their leader (Ralph Fiennes) has a surprise in store for them… “It’s a super interesting movie. Every time you think you’re going to turn right, turn left. »
The menu was filmed last year in Savannah, Georgia, and received rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Ethan Tobman speaks of a “dream experience”. “The script is divided into five acts, like a five-course meal. I found it brilliant. Because basically, going to a restaurant is like going to the movies. It lasts two or three hours, it takes you somewhere else, it awakens your senses, and when it’s over, you just want to go back. »
Ethan Tobman is currently working on lady weba box office hit from Sony studios expected in 2024. It is a superhero movie derived from Spiderman starring Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney. “I still feel like I’m pretending I know what I’m doing!” I always have the impression that someone is going to come to me and say: “I think you made a mistake. You have nothing to do here! »
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