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French search for China's creative talent
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A French company seeking to develop Chinese creative talent has been set up in Shanghai, reports Jenny Hammond.


Three enterprising French expats have been inspired by Shanghai's cultural and creative environment to set up a business to nurture new artistic talent.


Their Shanghai "hub" of French parent company Elegangz has been open for two months and one of the directors, Pierre Laret, is busy introducing the concept to the market.


In essence it is an international multi-media production organization looking to develop the potential of local creative talent.


"Elegangz was created by Adrien Moisson, a visionary who started a music label from scratch while still at school," says 29-year-old Laret, explaining the Parisian origins of the company.


Moisson realized early that the future was not in just one media but by combining all of them and through starting Elegangz he enabled artists to pool their talents to achieve a better result.


The French company has since combined the skills of more than 70 artists ranging across the creative spectrum of illustrators, directors, video makers, musicians, art directors, photographers and architects.


Moisson visited Shanghai two years ago where he had what Laret describes as the "blade runner effect," seeing the future as we saw it as kids watching movies.


"We are the home studio generation, creating albums or even movies with our simple home computers," Laret said.


It has taken the time since Moisson's visit to establish the right structure and attract the best people for an office to be set up in Shanghai. It is now fully operational with Laret in partnership with Coralie and Monsieur Theophile.


But what is Elegangz and what does its presence in a thriving cultural hub like Shanghai mean for budding artistic talent?


Elegangz is both a production company and a talent agency that encourages dynamism and creative freedom.


Laret says Shanghai, a young city in constant cultural mutation, is a great stimulant for the creative mind.


"It seemed the most suitable city in China to fit our philosophy, an amazing frontier between East and West, with an extensive culture of exchange since its foundation," he said.


"In China, our role is to build on the model developed in France: Finding young talent in schools around China, giving them the opportunity to work with established artists, and opening the opportunities to work through our network in Europe."


Making contact with universities and creative schools around China, Laret aims to identify talented students for the company fresh out of learning.


"The experience of our artistic collective combined with the freshness of new talent creates a mixture that directly benefits all our multi-media clients," he said.


Elegangz's artists are given an opportunity to be creative on commercial projects and gain financial freedom to develop their own projects.


"Of course we are a business, but we invest most of the money we earn in research and development, in finding ways to create synergies between our cultures, in helping young talents to blossom," Laret said.


The Parisian native Laret had worked as DJ, music producer and art director under the stage name Flaneur before moving to Shanghai in 2005, planning to stay one month. Since then he has provided music consultancy to brands such as Volkswagen China and organized product promotion tours of China.


"Elegangz wants to create an exchange in China that goes beyond pure business, to bring something here as well as learn from this complex country, Laret said.


"My dream is that in two years we shoot a TV commercial for Nike in Paris with a Chinese young director, a French crew and an English musician," he added.


For more information, e-mail Pierre.laret@elegangz.com, or visit www.elegangz.com


(Shanghai Daily by Jenny Hammond January 1, 2008)


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