Interview by Séphora Talmud // Photos: Élodie Daguin.
Translated by Christabel Chubb.
With the full force of their 23 years, Chloé de Nombel and Daisy Broom are bringing new blood to the slowing French cinema industry. With maturity and a striking freshness, the two self-taught women are on the rise in their already well-executed careers. We’re handing over the spotlight to two quirky women- one a costume designer and the other a natural actress. Action!
Daisy Broom Broom: What are you working on at the moment?
Chloé de Nombel de Nombel: I am a stylist for the music band ‘Minuit’, so I dress them for videos, concerts, television appearances and photo shoots. I am also a costume designer for the studio Bagel at Canal + and for the cinema. My first project was Mia Hansen-Løve’s film “Eden”. On top of this I’m a photographer.
Daisy Broom Broom: Cool! What does being a costumer consist of?
Chloé de Nombel: It’s different from being a stylist, because you have to learn to forget your own fashion taste, and pay attention to and understand the subtleties of different styles, even those that you don’t like personally, in order to fulfill the directors’ vision for the characters. Fundamentally, my job is to be glued to the actors, and to ensure that they feel comfortable in their skin, skin which isn’t really theirs, but the character they’re playing. Most people don’t think about the costumes when they watch a film. But, as well as the actors portrayal, the costume always says a lot about the character. Clothes have an influence and show who the character is or who they want to be.
Daisy Broom: Yes of course! The costume is so important to be able to play the part! For some projects, I have to act in my own clothes, but I prefer when they aren’t mine- they could be things that I would never wear myself, but are so fundamental to the character. In «Bang Gang», the last film which I did, I had to play a 16 year old girl, so I had tiny red dresses with flowers, school bags and hair styles which I would never have myself, but all of that contributes to the character.
Chloé de Nombel: How about you, what are you working on at the moment?
Daisy Broom: At the moment, I am finishing studies and then we’ll see. I still go to castings, and I work hard in them, but given that I’m in the 3rd year of my Chinese degree, and I’ve retaken 2 years, I want to finish it, I can’t keep doing it like this. I’ve stopped trying hard, sometimes they organise Chinese karaoke, but I never go.
Chloé de Nombel: Ha! But Chinese karaoke, that must be so cool! I take classes in couture. I know the basics, but there are lots of gaps in my knowledge that I catch up with during filming. The thing is, with my work as a costumer, I never know where I will be in a month, do I try to do as many things as possible on the side while I wait for job offers from feature films and interesting projects. I imagine that as an actress you do the same thing.
Daisy Broom: It’s exactly that. Always waiting: scripts, castings, responses, acting in short scenes, film releases.
Chloé de Nombel: At the same time, we complain but the job isn’t the most difficult thing, the hardest thing is waking up really early for 3 months.
Daisy Broom: Yes- the routine is unbearable.
Chloé de Nombel: By the end of every feature film, I’m in an awful state of physical exhaustion. Another thing I find tough about my job is that you have to be both discrete and present on the shoots… for example I have to be careful not to disturb actors in their fittings.
Daisy Broom: At the same time, you have to be there. On set, at costume-hair-and make-up, you have a very close relationship, as you’re all together all the time. You change our clothes for us, you see us naked…
Chloé de Nombel: True, it doesn’t bother me at all to see you naked. The body is a working space, I don’t see it as a person to dress.
Daisy Broom: It’s our tool for work, it’s true. For me, it’s fine, I am not too hung up about it.
Chloé de Nombel: In any case, there’s no envy or judgement. In general, over 3 months of working I get to know if an actor is modest, or if it’s inappropriate to touch them, it’s very intimate… On set, when a comedian is put onto a set which is supposed to be a bedroom and there are 40 people in it watching them, there is no kind of benevolence from the technical team, in this case it can be hard to not feel judged or ridiculed while doing the scene.
Daisy Broom: In “Bang Gang”, we were always friends and often naked, but we were so prepared for that that it wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, the person who really sees you isn’t the costumer or the hairdresser, nor the sound guy, it’s the director. The others stick to their job.
Chloé de Nombel: There’s no doubt that there’s loads of people around you- actors i mean- because we are the first and last people that you see when you arrive on set and the last people you see before you leave. Socially, it’s great, because there’s such a good interaction between our two jobs. Costume-hair-and make-up is kind of the comforting place on set.
Daisy Broom: It’s the place for gossip, given that it’s normally 3 women.
Chloé de Nombel: How about you? How do you find being in front of the camera?
Daisy Broom: I find kissing someone is a lot more intimate than actually miming a sexual act, for example. It’s silly to say, but it’s really mechanic. As for kissing someone with love, you don’t mime the gesture, you really have to do it. And when there is violence, it’s a lot more complicated. Once, for a film, I had to do a violent scene. It traumatized me, it was horrible! I wanted to cry to the extent that I felt like it was all real. Even if you know that it’s not real, you can’t fake violent gestures. It’s the same for scenes with arguments. It’s intense.
Chloé de Nombel: Ha really? So learning your lines isn’t even the hardest part?
Daisy Broom: No! It’s hard work to learn lines for scenes when there’s a monologue, for example. Though I imagine that it’s a lot more difficult in the theatre than for cinema. In the theatre, you can’t mess up, you have to know the entire play by heart. When it comes to cinema, you have at least 5 takes and an entire day to get the shot right.
Chloé de Nombel: Ha, so you learn your lines as the filming goes on?
Daisy Broom: No, I know it well beforehand, but I go over it word for word 2 or 3 days before.
Chloé de Nombel: And how do you learn it? Do you read it and then recite it to someone?
Daisy Broom: That depends. When i’m really struggling, I read it aloud to someone, which makes it easier. When it’s an easy text, I read it and then repeat it.
Chloé de Nombel: And do you find it easy to cry on cue?
Daisy Broom: I’ve done it lots of times before. I used to find it hard, but as soon as I feel pressured, it just comes. In fact, it’s physical, its a breathing exercise where your body releases something and tears come. I actually find that laughing is a lot more difficult than crying.
Chloé de Nombel: What’s your favorite thing about being an actress?
Daisy Broom: Filming! Even if you are happy when it finishes.
Chloé de Nombel: Happy but sad.
Daisy Broom: Happy to go back to normal life, because you’re shattered.
Chloé de Nombel: There’s a bit of a low afterwards, an extreme sense of melancholy when you just want to get into bed for a week and die. It’s hard to go back to reality, and remember that your real friends are the ones in your real life as opposed to those who you just spent 3 months filming with. Sometimes, you get to know them better than your true friends.
Daisy Broom: Yes, it’s a bit like a summer camp, especially when you live with them, you know their habits and how they look first thing in the morning. Undoubtedly that creates bonds.
Chloé de Nombel: We actually have a really intense job and the relationships you make are half the work!
Daisy Broom: Yes because you work non-stop, even on the week end. When it’s finished, you feel a bit empty. You’ll stay in touch with some people, but you have to separate filming and real life, otherwise you can become depressed very quickly.
Chloé de Nombel: Yes and you can’t become friends with all 100 people who work on set. Especially if you film 3 times a year, imagine how many friends you’d have after that!
Daisy Broom: Yes! Well, you could, but some are married and some have children that they don’t see for months. It’s a job which keeps you busy 24/7, so it’s emotionally exhausting, but it’s really cool!
Chloé de Nombel: That’s the thing! Above being a job, and above skills you may have or learn, it’s an adventure. Every time, I feel like i’m working in psychology or sociology. I learn how to understand different behavior and how to adapt to it.
Daisy Broom: You really see how everything works. It’s true that it’s really cool. Whats incredible is that at the end, there’s a film! It’s great, and that’s why we work so hard.
Chloé de Nombel: Cinema is my favorite thing in the world. I watch a film every day- ever since I got spotted in the street by a casting director. I had a great part in the film and it was huge success, and after the filming was finished, I told myself that that’s what I wanted to do, so I carried on. I’ve always enjoyed it but I never would have thought that I’d do cinema! I think the first films that I remember are disney films, notably “Aristocats”, which I used to watch on a loop. I also loved musical comedies: “Grease”, “Singing in the Rain”, “West Side Story”, and any by Jacques Demy as well. Do you like contemporary cinema?
Chloé de Nombel: Yes! I’d love to work with Arnaud Desplechin, Sophie Fillières or the Larrieu brothers. They are my favorite contemporary directors. I’d also love to work with Mia Hansen-Love.
Daisy Broom: I really love Christophe Honoré. But I prefer American cinema to French cinema.
Chloé de Nombel: See, I think French cinema has a bad reputation, especially in France, but I find that there are less well known, more independent cinemas emerging which are very interesting. They show films with different budgets, new directors and already confirmed new headlines: Serge Bozon, Quentin Dupieux, Antonin Peretjatko or Bruno Podalydès with Vimala Pons, Vincent Macaigne… Even “Bang Gang” is taking part!
Daisy Broom: Yes, “Bang Gang” is very different and it’s great that it’s been possible. It has the support of the CNC (National Center for Cinematography), which has helped I think; and the producers and the directors were given a fund to help complete the project.
Chloé de Nombel: In fact, on one hand, there are French dramatic comedies…
Daisy Broom: Yes, very heavy stuff…
Chloé de Nombel: And on the other hand, there are typically French, huge productions which get loads of people visiting them. French cinema is well established, it’s full of big names who have been around for 40 years, who will still be around in 20 years.
Daisy Broom: I agree with you, but unfortunately i find that the new wave is held back by distributors, who don’t want to take any risk if the actors or the director aren’t known or the topic is too ‘out-there’. I hope that this changes. English people are beginning to reject traditional films and are now taking risks. They have low budgets and don’t get many visitors, but at least their films are featured in festivals so at least get recognition.
Chloé de Nombel: Whether projects go well or badly, as a costumer, I feel separated from the success of the film, because I am always excited by what I do.
Daisy Broom: Yes! I’ve already acted in some family mediocre things for the TV just to earn a bit of money, but it’s a bit depressing. You aren’t there to make art- the worse you act the happier they are.
Chloé de Nombel: I see, in any case, I hope that in 15 years we will be proud of our filmography and the people who we work with.
Daisy Broom: Me too.
++ Follow Chloé de Nombel on Instagram.
++ Read all about Daisy Broom’s career.
Interview by Séphora Talmud // Photos: Élodie Daguin.
Translated by Christabel Chubb.