Division Is The Global Production Company Intent On Disrupting The Industry

Global production company, Division, is a force to be reckoned with. Founded in 2010 by CEO Arno Moria and managing director Jules de Chateleux, the agency sports a bulging roster of some of the most sought-after filmmakers, photographers and creative directors around. Gabriel Moses, Torso and Thibaut Grevet all sit proudly on its bill, with each artist embodying that keen sense of industry disruption that Division gets its name from. 

Opening its first office in Paris before expanding to LA and Sydney, Division is en route to stamping its signature bold and unapologetic style of production on all corners of the world. Since its inception, Division has worked hard to establish itself as a leading voice in the industry, with recognition rightfully flowing in the past few years. Last year, Division was ranked as one of the top five production companies at The Australasian Writers and Art Directors Awards, as well as being named Production House of the Year by D&AD five times between 2014 and 2023. 

Name-dropping never feels classy, but Division’s stellar assortment of clients is too good not to mention. A$AP Rocky, Pharrell and Snoop Dogg have all come to them for their most elaborate music videos, whilst Mugler and Balmain put their trust in Division to create spellbinding showreels that saw the brands reap the rewards of virality as a result. Despite being the first show they covered, Division’s work for Mugler’s AW23 collection was so spellbinding it rippled through the industry at lightning speed, showcasing the power of fashion videography in a way that wasn’t always recognised before. We sat down with Jules de Chateleux and Gwendoline Victoria, the managing director of Division’s fashion and luxury facet, to talk about ten of their biggest hits and the creative processes behind them. Bella Koopman

Pharrell Williams ‘Cash In Cash Out’ – Director: François Rousselet 

de Chateleux: “I went into the studio in Los Angeles to hear the song in March 2020. The idea to do some full post-production came from COVID, because we knew we couldn’t be on sets with camera and crew and so we needed to do something that was fully post-production. The idea of being full post-production and 3D came from the fact that we knew we couldn’t be all together on set. 

The chorus had a very infectious repetition – ‘Cash in, Cash out, Cash in, Cash out’ – it was repeating the loop, so we thought about a Ferris wheel and that’s how we got the idea of the switchboard, which was made in post-production. It took two years in the making because we started to work on it in March 2020 and we released it in June 2022. I think the video is so well finished because we had so much time. Sometimes we would drop it for three months, and then just work another week to correct the 3D and correct the animation, and go back on certain details. That’s why it’s so pristine. I think it’s just like to take a pause and to just say “Let’s take the time to do a proper good video and it’s gonna take one year” and then you do something amazing. That’s what Pharrell and his team did. They took their time. We’ve always been supportive of that and they’ve always been supporting us.”

Mugler AW23 – Director: Torso 

Victoria: This was the first show we did, but the creative process was really collaborative between us and Mugler. They knew the production and post-production part was really important, so that’s why we were super involved. Casey [Cadwallader], when he’s designing, always has a clear view of how he wants the clothes to look, so when we started he introduced us to his mood board and then we went off and had a think about location and other aspects. Everyone was super excited. The energy on this show film performance was amazing.”

Rosalia – Brand: Coke Creations – Director: Daniel Sannwald 

de Chateleux: “We work with Rosalia a lot. We did some music videos for Bagdad, we did the Saoko music video directed by Valentin Petit. So, when it came to doing Coke Creations, she said she wanted to work with Division with Danielle Sannwald as the director. So that’s what we did. We came up with the whole concept and we shot in LA. It was cool to have this much freedom on a Coke commercial. I think we created something that looks very much like a Coke commercial but also looks like a Rosalia music video.”

A$AP Ferg ft. Pharrell Williams, The Neptunes ‘Green Juice (DC)’ – Director: Valentin Petit 

de Chateleux: I mean the first thing about this one is we have to pay homage to Valentin, who has now passed away after a plane crash in May 2023. He was probably the most maverick director I’ve ever met in my career. This was also a COVID job, so we did it completely remotely, we had to direct everything from screens in Paris. The whole music video was directed and produced in Paris. It was the 2nd collaboration we did with A$AP Ferg and we really pushed the boundaries. We tried using a scanning drone, a 3D scanner and photogrammetry and then blending that all together. Of course, the problem with that type of film is that it starts to feel a bit like a food recipe, but Petit blended things to make it really organic. He was such a maverick that he was able to communicate the energy of Paris through the screen. I think he captured one of the most iconic pop music videos in recent times – it was a big success.”

Pharrell – Brand: Chanel – Director: Fleur Fortuné   

de Chateleux: “Working with Chanel was honestly full of freedom because Pharrell was full of freedom. Pharrell wanted to bring crazy Japanese couture to Paris. So, that was already a big idea and then we just did the rest. It was pretty hard to make the film eight minutes long as we shot it in two days, with one day in Paris and one day in the castle. It was crazy. He was amazing and collaborative, encouraging us to do whatever the fuck we wanted. It was amazing, they gave us total freedom. Eight or nine minutes in two days was very hard, especially with this quality of footage but we had to do it because it wasn’t a classic commercial. Pharrell called it a creative collaboration, funded by Chanel. Pharrell has been a Division fan since 2015 – he’s been following us, pushing us and letting us do our shoots – it’s so cool. He talks about us in interviews too, which is rare as most people don’t mention production. It’s just love every time.”

‘Believe In Time (DC)’ – Brand: Louis XIII Cognac x Solange Knowles – Director: Mati Diop  

de Chateleux: This was a really interesting collaboration with Solange and Mati Diop, who is a French-Senegalese director who has been awarded the Cannes Grand Prix with her feature film Atlantiques. She’s an amazing director but doesn’t often do commercials, which was the same as Solange. That meant it was a co-creation from them, like hands-on. Solange made the music and Mati wrote the script – they were given total freedom by the agency and the client to create the film. We were just there to make sure it was on time and cost the right amount of money.”

Balmain Show (7m30s) – Director: Valentin Petit  

Victoria: That was the one on the plane. It was also during COVID. It was a tricky one because there were a lot of looks to shoot, around 80 looks and we were shooting at an airplane zone where there was a lot of security. They needed everyone’s passports two weeks before. But it was great – anything directed by Valentin has a lot of good memories.” 

‘No Matter How Long the Night Is’ – Brand: Saint Laurent – Director: Nathalie Canguilhem  

Victoria: “This one was quite interesting because it was the first fashion video we did. Normally you can’t shoot on the location we did but because it was the tail-end of COVID, we were allowed. It was interesting too because, due to COVID, a lot of the brands needed to do films but they weren’t necessarily used to doing that. So for us, it was great to collaborate with the different brands such as Etudes, Lanvin, Y/Project and Mugler, and work out how to develop both their styles when it came to film. It was a really interesting experience.”

The Avalanches ‘Frankie Sinatra’ – Director: Fleur Fortuné   

de Chateleux: “The week surrounding this shoot was really weird. A director from Division had passed away that exact week in Paris and it was also the week that Prince passed away. So, the whole shoot felt weird and I think somehow, if you look closely, the video captures that energy.  People look at the video and think it’s quite funny and colourful, but for me, the video feels like a voodoo video. It felt like it had the strength to exfoliate all the wounds that we had at the time, so that was cool. The Avalanches is also one of the most iconic bands that I listened to when I was growing up, so saying that I have produced an Avalanches music video is crazy. So, it was just true craziness and the craziness you see in the video was only half of what was happening.”

Snoop Dogg ‘So Many Pros’ – Director: François Rousselet  

de Chateleux: “We shot this one in LA. It was a big thing because we were only 28 or 29 at the time and we were getting to do a Snoop Dogg music video. You can imagine how much of a legend he is to us. It was really cool. He was like eight hours late to set though, which we were tracking on his Instagram. I always follow the artists I’m working with to gauge their audience before we produce something and as we were waiting for him on set, I saw on Instagram that he was at the dentist in Las Vegas when he was supposed to be on set with us in LA. When he was supposed to be on set in LA like at 10 am. Luckily, we anticipated this so we had some other stuff to shoot. 

The idea for the video was really simple though – what if James Bond was black? We wanted to blend black James Bond and the film ‘Blaxploitation’ and do 100 iconic posters in a world where James Bond was black. So, we shot for three days with everything on the green screen – the cars, the people, the hot girls, the rappers, the bad guys, the mean girls, everything. That was also where we first met Pharrell, which was amazing because he was the producer of the track. We also then won an MTV Music Award for it which was crazy. I have a good anecdote for this as well. He was so happy about the result of the video that he wanted to give a vintage black Mustang to the director, like a proper fucking cool car from the ‘60s. And when Snoop offered this to the director his response was “I don’t have my licence.” so he never got the car! Such a shame, we could have had a black Mustang from Snoop Dogg, aha!”

Interview by Emily Phillips. Videography courtesy of Division.


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