ORIGINATORS BY MATTE PRESENTS ANDRE BATO

2022

Andre Bato is an Italian-born Creative Director, Director and Producer working between New York City, Paris and Los Angeles.

With an approach and mission focused on pushing, and even breaking boundaries, Bato’s distinguished aesthetic allows his work to live within its own, independent space.

In 2008 he moved to the United States to collaborate with various photographers and directors producing editorial work for VOGUE, V Magazine and GQ. He partnered as creative director with various agencies and their clients developing concepts for the likes of Reebok, Alexandre Plokhov, CHAMPION, in addition to photo shoots and campaigns featuring Usher, Swizz Beats, Miley Cyrus and Kylie Jenner.

In 2014, Bato moved to New York City as an independent visionary forging relationships and creating and directing visual content for PHILLIPS, Enfants Riches Déprimés, Beats by Dre, NIKE, Dazed Digital, SPOTIFY, SHOWSTUDIO among others. Today he continues to create and consult for companies and artists in media, art, music, and fashion with his company Andre Bato Corp. founded in 2017.

His debut narrative film “GOOD MORNING (2021)”, a five screen Cinema Install, premiered in the fall of 2021.

Andre bato is part of the creative network Originators by MATTE.

Discover here below the interview by Matte Creative Director Tom Lee to Andre Bato about creative process, how Bato started his career and what it takes to build a successful business in the entertainment word nowadays in New York.

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MATTE: Today’s discussion will be about your relationship with Matte and about the ways that you can realize ideas. 

Let me start by asking you if you lived in the same building as Benji * Is that right? Tell me about that.

*{note: Benjamin Gordon is another talent part of the network Originators by Matte}

AB: I had the pleasure of meeting Benji through a mutual friend, a producer. At the time he was very much labeling himself as an art director, he was working with a lot of brands. Then because of our proximity, I remember going up to his apartment and he was showing me everything that he was working on: AI, animation and abstract paintings most of the time reactive to music. The kid is like a wiz himself in terms of how he approaches the stuff that he does. I was very fascinated by his work.

We both work visually, but his approach is different from mine in terms of how it’s executed and eventually even presented. But at the same time there are some overlaps where we kind of clicked.

"I think both him and I really love to work digitally in terms of creating stuff that lives online or can live online, but also always keeping in mind what the physical version of whatever we’re making would look like."

AB: For example, the way I approach films that I make, it’s always about creating an experience for a real live audience in a specific space that has texture, layers and really by understanding how the audience can experience not only the film once they sit down and the lights go off, but also the feeling that they have by walking into the venue, smelling, touching and interacting with it.

MATTE: Do you go to that level of detail when it comes to the work that you’re doing with regards to that sensory experience?

AB: Yeah, for me, everything is important. It’s not just about creating the concept, but it’s also about putting myself into places that can trigger the concept or the narrative of a film. 

This past year, when I was writing my feature, I immersed myself into spaces that resembled the era of the characters of the actual script and then moved on to that. When I create the film, I want to make sure that I create the world down to everything. I love film because in many ways, it’s like the one art where all arts need to come and work together. It is about writing, acting, architecture, sound, photography… It’s about literally everything coming together. I never really considered myself a filmmaker, but the reason why I love film so much and why there’s something about it that I truly enjoy in terms of the actual process is because you’re playing with all these elements and seeing how they fit in together.

Even once it’s done, the idea for me, especially for the personal projects that we produce, is never to just submit them to a festival or put them online so we can get a mention or whatever.

It’s really about how people are going to experience it. So we think about how big the audience is, how they are seated, what the layout is, if they are watching it at the theater or streaming it at home… as it’s a completely different experience. All those details are extremely important in how someone absorbs or understands the film. So to me, it’s very important to make sure that if you’re watching a film, you’re watching it in the space, time and place where it was intended to be absorbed.

MATTE: Why would you say you never consider yourself a filmmaker?

AB: I think it’s because, funny enough, I never had the dream to become a filmmaker. It just kind of happened, I think. When I went to college or even before that, I always loved to draw. That was my thing ever since I was five, six years old. I always liked to draw, which eventually got me into fine art and realistic drawings and when I got my first cracked version of Photoshop, that interest eventually developed into graphic design and illustration and that evolved later on into creative direction, which allowed me to work with photographers and filmmakers and see how the whole world operates. And I very much fell in love with it. But it was never like, hey, one day I want to become a filmmaker. It was very much like I found myself in the position of having to make films and then realizing that it was something that I loved and I decided to keep that with me. Even now, I consider myself more of a creative person, someone that just wants to make stuff also because, I don’t only make films.

I’m interested in publications, books, installations, architecture. I think the term filmmaker may be dedicated to people who truly and solely give their soul and talent to the medium of film.

MATTE: Right.

AB: Obviously I’m not saying I’m better, I’m not saying I’m worse. I don’t necessarily want to put myself or label myself as something as such.

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MATTE: Okay, then, could you just help backtracking your origin story? What are some kind of key watershed moments in your career which have helped you to arrive where you are today? You mentioned before that you had a pretty mixed bag in terms of developments. I’d love to know what were some of those defining moments where you recognized that that was what you wanted to do.

AB: I think first and foremost the biggest life changing decision that I’ve made or things that I’ve done is moving from a small town in Italy to the States, which was something that was probably triggered by watching things growing up, like MTV and by being a fan of rap music. I just wanted to see more and explore more of the world. Once I got here, I was fortunate enough that my aunt had a production company. I was 17 at the time and I was just a PA {production assistant}. I was observing how the whole world of advertising and production works and I started creating this idea in my mind of having a team, an infrastructure and I started understanding how much it takes to create a photo, a film or a commercial.

Being inspired and being fascinated about the process was definitely a big chunk of who I am and why I do what I do today.

AB: In my early twenties, I spent a lot of time, a lot of hours and a lot of effort, making companies and people and careers great and I realized I wanted to go out on my own, especially after having observed, even from a business perspective the entire process.

That’s extremely important to me having observed how a company runs and understand who are the key people that make a company self-sufficient and successful.

My second best decision after moving to America was deciding to take matters into my own hands, creating a team that lives under the same umbrella and that operates in unison, which eventually is what my production company is now also creating a company that is here to support the freedom and is here also to support people that maybe aren’t necessarily familiar with the space or familiar with what it takes to create film or create art and really being able to have some sort of blueprint or some structure. I know my company has my name “Andre Bato Corp” but the idea is to lend that structure to any artist that we have affinity with or that has great ideas and create along with them. That’s always been extremely important to me, and that’s how I want to operate.

Film is our DNA, but we’re much more than that. We’re about photography, books, products, furniture and more. Obviously, some of those elements are a bit more prevalent in our work than others. But we are always looking to bring something new to the table, very authentic to who we are and what we want.

MATTE: I’m so interested to hear more about the idea of being surrounded by creative people. You know, it takes a village. So what’s your perspective? Are you more for “this is the idea, this is the aesthetic, this is what needs to be executed”? Or more open to interpretations? Do you rely on people around you to contribute creatively?

AB: It’s a case by case. There are moments where the vision is extremely clear and I know exactly what needs to be done and how it’s going to look, how the tone is going to be, and this is how we’re going to present it, promote it, etcetera, etcetera. Whereas there’s other moments where the ideas can be a little bit more rough and they need to be polished and they need the right person with the right perspective to come in and take it to the next level. That’s the beauty about the team, the conversation is ongoing.

Being around artists is good because the conversation is always ongoing. The idea is a team’s idea. It’s never like, hey, I came up with this, and this is my idea, and you helped me make it. It becomes a collective effort also, because I realized when you work as a unit, like a body of people that work as one entity, everybody is equally as involved and equally as excited, I think, to contribute to the idea.

"If it’s something that is very authentic to who you are and it’s honest, it might not be the most beautiful thing that you’ve done, but people ultimately resonate with that work because it’s from you and it’s honest."

MATTE: Good point.

AB: And that’s why I’m very much protective also of who is involved. I think it’s also important that people’s voices don’t just fizzle out. I want to make sure that everyone from the art director, creative director, producer has a voice that is powerful enough to be heard and to actually make decisions to guide the idea forward. It definitely takes a village, and it’s extremely important to make sure that you’re not in a vacuum trying to get an idea out by yourself. That’s something I learned early on, too: The one man band is super overrated as a concept.

It’s a slow process, time is extremely important, and we pride ourselves in turning things around quickly.

I think good art ultimately does happen fairly quickly, because if you just sit with it, it just becomes stale.

MATTE: As it is instinctual.

AB: It’s very easy to become almost obsessively a perfectionist when it comes down to your art.

That usually does tend to happen when you’re in a vacuum, when you’re by yourself and you keep crafting and reworking an idea and it does just become a bit too stable. Whereas, if you activate the idea and if you have people to talk about it, the idea moves forward, maybe it’s not necessarily the exact direction it should go into, but at least there’s momentum. It is about that feeling in your gut that lets you go for it. If it works, amazing, and you think about the next step, if it doesn’t work? We discuss with the team and understand how we can perfect it.

MATTE: During a production, when there is something that isn’t really working, Do you feel it in your gut a little bit and then maybe just let it play out?

AB: Yes, it depends. In production, if there’s a client attached, you want to minimize the trial and error and you want to get things right the first time, that’s what planning is for. It’s very much about planning things ahead of time as much as possible, so that even if there is a mistake, that is fairly minimal because you’ve done the homework ahead of time. 

Other times you need to go through the bad idea in order to see what went wrong in order to fix it. I mean, we have tons of projects and ideas that we’ve developed or tried out, some of them went out into public and they weren’t necessarily successful. But with that said, I think there’s a beauty in sharing your work with the public and seeing how they react. it helps you grow.

I like to say that I’m a small circle kind of person. I think you need to be careful about not stretching the idea too thin and getting too many chefs in the kitchen.

AB: I still have one of the first projects we did when the company started four years ago: it was a documentary about a porn star named Olive. Looking back at it now that I’ve matured as a director, as a storyteller and an artist, I see what we could have done better.

We put our heart into it and people still resonate with it.

Going back to the stale idea, the last thing I’m ever going to do is perfect something at nausea. I think there’s a time and place and a reason why you get an idea and once you get that again feeling that it’s ready, not even think about it twice, get it out into the world and move on to the next one.

Even in terms of mental space, you have to make the space for a new idea to come.

You have to make the space to have closure as an artist, too.

To me, it’s very much about things, feelings and staying honest with what you do and not overwork ideas.

MATTE: When it comes to the artistic output and the commercial output. How do you find balance between personal and commercial work? 

AB: I enjoy both. I enjoy them equally, but for different reasons.

Commercial work is more a challenge in terms of timelines, a creative that you need to follow. There’s a brand that has a history, an image, an identity, a personality…

The reason why I enjoy commercial work is because of the challenge to fit in other shoes and being able to deliver what is expected from the people we are working with.

Right now we’re fortunate enough to suggest to brands to work with someone else if we do not align. We’re very honest about what we can bring and we want to work on.

Even if I have to say that we mostly don’t discriminate because there’s something nice with that challenge of stepping out of your comfort zone and seeing if you’re able to deliver and help push the brand forward or help them create a new identity or sell something new.

Being able to deliver and bring something new to the table is a great feeling even with this commercial, the car commercial or other commercials that we’ve done for beverage companies.

MATTE: I’d love to hear your perspective on creative inspiration for creatives. What is your approach in your own life?

AB: Generally speaking, it’s “just go for it!”. I know it’s corny as hell, but it’s just a matter of stop being afraid.

I think even in me developing at the beginning, like starting to work with artists and realizing that I wanted to be in this world.

The one thing that I had to learn was to not be afraid of my own ideas.. 

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AB: ...not be afraid to make a mistake or afraid of being judged for who I am or what I make. Because ultimately, I also don’t think anybody cares if you make something shitty. As long as you’re being loyal to yourself, the people will relate to it. So again, just to circle back on that, I think it’s just a matter of waking up and going for it and having an understanding that it is tough. Obviously it’s tough every single day. But when you find something that inspires you, that makes you want to get up in the morning or work tirelessly every day, you should just go for it.

I think most of the time when you truly believe in something and when you do something and it’s 100% or even 95% you, people will respond to it. The people part shouldn’t even be something that you should consider. It’s really about you and your creations and your team and the people that you create with.

It’s about creative freedom.

Ultimately, I think it’s about putting yourself into a space where you can feel free to create, and then the rest eventually comes in terms of inspiration. You just got to find that one thing that you’re obsessed about, I guess, and just really go for it. I wish I had a better way.

MATTE: And then the last question. What’s that one thing that is all about?

AB: It’s creating. Making something out of nothing. Creating things that were intangible and making them tangible, shareable, making them something that people can consume and react to in a good or bad way. Who cares? It’s about the creation and seeing it be a thing, that’s everything to me. That’s literally everything that I love, enjoy and care about. It’s my favorite thing to do. It’s an experience.

As humans, we have this ability of creating. We’ve been creating for thousands, millions of years, it’s an innate thing that we have and I love it. It’s almost God, nothing is there and then something is there.

If you put enough effort, thought behind it and you believe in it, you can actually change a portion of the world, you can actually affect your environment and that’s really fucking cool.

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Discover more about Andre Bato:

https://originators.matteprojects.com/

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Interview by
Tom Lee
Creative Director

Edit by
Francesca Valente
Head of Talents

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