If NYC is the city that never sleeps, we might be inclined to think that Parisian-based after hours czar André Saraiva’s brain might be more in-tune with a New York state of mind than a French ‘joie d’ vivre.’ Between a thriving career as a graffiti artist, nightlife entrepreneur , and general man about town, it’s hard to image Saraiva having too much free time on his hands. However, recently the multi-talented jetsetter was also able to add the title of filmmaker to his impressive resume with ‘The Shoe’ – his hotly anticipated collaboration with NOWNESS, Purple Magazine’s Oliver Zahm, and classic French shoe brand J.M Weston. Featuring Leo Fitzpatrick and real-life girlfriend Annabelle Dexter-Jones as the leads, this short film draws upon such wide ranging themes as lust, fashion, French culture, and Savaira’s personal history to tell the story of how one incredibly lucky pair of shoes makes its way through a Parisian afternoon.
After the NYC debut screening of “The Shoe” at The Standard last week, we were able to speak with Saraiva about his creative process, both in making the film and for how he manages to stay ahead as a constant innovator.
In your own words, how did this project come about?
I knew for sure it [ film] was something I wanted to do, even if it was making music videos. I wanted to tell a story, so I thought: ‘Maybe a movie?
What was the inspiration behind the plot line?
My life, my life in paris, a fantasy day, these were all a part of it. Where I would go, what I would do? I wanted to share this world.
I was only able to make the later showing, which I heard was on the racier side. Why did you decide to do two separate versions?
The first I made shorter for the internet, so people could watch the trailer and it could get shown in a variety of places. The director’s cut, the longer version, works more for a Parisian audience.
What made you decide to team up with NOWNESS and what was their involvement?
NOWNESS was an excellent group to work with. They helped me to produce the film, promoted it on the site, and really got things made. It also made sense because I’m friends with them- it was more organic process.
What made you decide to cast Leo Fitzpatrick (“The Wire”, “Kids”) as the lead?
Well, because he’s a good actor (laughs). He liked the story, and I knew I didn’t want a French actor. I wanted an American walking through Paris, and the things he would do or see being me for a day.
American audiences are a little less familiar with JM Weston. I know they are an iconic brand in France, but can you describe the sort of cultural cache they have there?
It’s very classic thing to wear in France. It’s what the president wore- it’s a symbol of success. When I was a teenager, it was both for the bourgeoisie and the shoes of the bad boys. I remember in the early 90’s it was the the same thing. These shoes carry a lot of meaning with them for the French.
In addition to his wide- ranging influence on French nightlife, Savaira also has a prolific reputation within the street-art world, and recently appeared in the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”
How has your past work as a graffiti artist influenced your aesthetic sensibilities ?
It definitely still has an effect on my work. It’s a mentality, a way of thinking. The freedom- you don’t scare easily. You don’t wait for people to give you authorization, you just do it. Doing other work, it’s the same freedom as I had with mr. A (Saraiva’s graffiti handle). It’s a nonchalant attitude.
Do you still try to stay involved in that world?
I did a big show recently, Art In the Streets, at MOCA in California. I was part of that scene since I was 14- one of the first people doing graffiti in Europe. It meant a lot to me, but I also had to reinvent, to move forward. People grow up, but i’m happy to still be part of it in a way.
Now that you’ve taken on the art, nightlife, and film world- what challenges do you see on the horizon?
I always like to be working on new things, trying them out. Next I’d like to do a longer movie. Also writing scripts and working on a book with all of my past work has been very important to me.
If you could have viewers walk away with one idea about the film, what would it be?
I want people to walk away with a smile.
While the movie will be released on DVD in August at the French boutique Colette (paired with the film’s soundtrack), check out a teaser for “The Shoe” below:
Thanks André !