Portraits

Frédéric Lavigne combining good luck and resolve

Today Frédéric Lavigne is the Director for Education at the Image Forum, a place of memory and news about the cinema in Paris. He had managed the UTC Cine-Club when he was a student here.

Frédéric Lavigne combining good luck and resolve

The risk-taking volunteer

At the time, Frédéric Lavigne asked his employer to move from full time to 4/5 part-time so he could get involved in the programming of the Premiers Plan film festival at Angers, and event he had discovered a year before but as a simple spectator. That experience went so well that the team proposed I could accept the job as programmer. I gave up a 'CDI' (unlimited) job position for a CDD (limited in duration), a salary divided by two and I then joined the cinema world", says our 7th art fan. Frédéric went on to assure programming this festival for the next five years and then moved to London, duly appointed audio-visual attaché at the French Embassy in Great Britain. His main function there was to promote French cinema works in the United Kingdom accompanying the film distributors to a festival and projections held in the Embassy premises .... The next move was back to Paris, where Frédéric was signed up by the Image Forum and he took on the position of Director for Education - he also directs the international festival called Series Mania, specialized in TV series.

One trump card: project management in the cultural domains

"By chance and by will-power, I did manage to move into the world of cinema whereas in France, in most instances, the diploma defines the career path and making shifts complicated. Bridges from sector to sector are few and far between and rarely self-evident. I could never have found a job opening in the cinema if I had not first of all done my voluntary worker spell. To succeed I accepted to reduce my work schedule to 4/5 full time which left me some spare time to devote myself to the cinema. It was truly exhilarating!" he recalls. The five years' studies at UTC were "terrific" and did not dampen his belief that horizons can be wider than you imagine, especially if you decide to succeed. General culture acquired in the Common Core programme, the Image semiology course (which alone convinced Frédéric Lavigne that his personal path lay here), the course on the world of cinema followed by an exchange internship at the University of Pennsylvania, the rich local association life-style and its cine-club ... were the building blocks for his choice of career. "What I mainly recall is the very open minded attitude in UTC training courses, with the project management modules that have proved very useful to me. In the cultural sector, all other things being equal, having a project management talent is a definite trump card when it comes to organising, for example a festival event", underscores Frédéric, who now has a team of 10, managing the budgets, the schedules, the manpower needs and assignments ...

Analysing and deciphering images

The Image Forum, created in 1988, now has 80 staff working on it, with its film 'cycles', 2 000 showings and a dozen festivals every year. It also houses a collection of 6 500 films that can be viewed individually, or used in exchanges, meeting and lectures: it is a cinematographic focal point, covering both the latest releases and going back to the famous 'classics'. "What I have observed is a certain amnesia today. For the younger generations, the history of the cinema starts in year 2000 and there is heavy layer of fog on anything before that date", analyses Frédéric. "My job consist of enabling children and their parents to discover films that are our heritage. To be successful here we must release mental brakes, such as impatience and define a suitable sequence of programmes". As Frédéric Lavigne sees it, education in images is a useful public service at a time when images are indeed predominant. "When I was following the UTC course on Image semiology, we analysed the meaning of a picture frame, and we learned how to analyse images so as to keep control and not be totally under their influence. This is what I and my team doing today. If we use the cinema vector, we can learn to read images of all the videos we see on the Internet, in advertising, etc. But adolescents and teenagers do not come spontaneously to the Image Forum, except outside the school periods and the sessions we programme for their teachers!"

Bio-Notes:

  • From 2006 to date : Director for Education at the Forum des Images, Paris
  • 2004-2006 : Audio-visual Attaché in charge of the Ciné Lumière at the Institut Français, London
  • 1999-2004: Event programmer at the Festival Premiers Plans, Angers
  • 1995-1999 : Project manager at the Danone International Research Centre 1992-1995: Junior research officer at ARILAIT Research
  • 1992-1993 : PhD in foodstuffs (ENSIA, Paris 7 Diderot and Paris 11 Sud)T Recherche