BEHIND THE SCENES OF SS21

“What we do to the land, we do to ourselves”. ‘Spirit of Freedom’ begins with the famous quote from Chief Seattle; flashing across the screen like a warning, or a hint as to what we’re about to see.

Reviving the familiar iconography of a classic Hollywood Western, the film follows Mathis Chevalier as the unnamed protagonist, a young man on a mission to find his brother in the wake of a family tragedy. His journey leads him on a wild adventure through the desert towards enlightenment, self discovery, and certain danger.

‘Spirit of Freedom’ was shot in three parts, in three different places, across only five days. Following the film’s wide release, PHIPPS had a chance to catch their breath, and look back at what they had accomplished together. Keep reading to hear about it all from the team itself.
Spencer Phipps begins with a confident message:
“I was very excited to share this film with you, the first of many I hope. It’s been a very personal and joyous experience putting it together with the team. I hope that by exploring the positive aspects of American culture we can remember the good side of Americana and inspire positive change for the future.”

This was a first experience for many on the team, including Mathis Chevalier, who is a professional MMA fighter first, and a model second. In one scene, Spencer, who also acts in his film, must fight the main character. Mathis chases Spencer across the hills of the Spanish desert before besting him in a dusty brawl. Spencer laughs when he remembers the experience: “it was truly humbling”.
This first location- Tabernas, in Spain- is a well-kept secret among movie-makers who want the look and feel of a real desert, without having to travel all the way to the Sonoran or the Sahara. Flying first from Paris to Malaga, then driving a rented Jeep for about three hours to reach the small town of Orgiva on the outskirts of the desert, it was even more of an ordeal making it back to France.
Four days, a cancelled flight and two trains later, the crew was back in the capital and ready for another full day of shooting at a bar in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Here, PHIPPS took only one day to wrap up the smoky casino scene, complete with street-cast extras and red neon lights.
Mathis also shared some kind words about his time on set:
“I made a point of speaking to each and every cast and crew member. They were very different from one another in many ways, but very similar in their singular passion. They each wanted to do well, for themselves, and for others. I was able to get to know the PHIPPS family even better, which is full of driven and talented people.
In the end, any difficulties we might’ve encountered on this adventure only made the whole thing more impactful. Shooting this project was a very emotional and educational experience.”
It was thanks to Marion Doreau, a PHIPPS designer, that the team came upon the third location- a couple of hours south-west of Paris, she hosted the crew in her family-owned farmhouse. Shooting was drawing to a close, and as tensions eased, the team slowed down, and enjoyed the July heat with a swim in a nearby lake.

As told by Virgile Elana, an actor and circus performer who was brought on for this final on- location shoot- “It was a gorgeous, sunny day, which made the whole thing that much more enjoyable. The team was kind and professional. I even had the chance to ride a horse! I loved every second.”

Molly Ledoux, the director, casting director, and all-round Swiss army knife talent added- “I didn’t sleep for two months!”

Though, it was worth it.