Mathieu Le Lay is a French cinematographer, based in Annecy, France. His passion for cinema and nature led him to study at IFFCAM, the French wildlife film school. He then graduated in wildlife conservation at Salford University in the UK and since 2008 he’s been expressing his fascination for the relationship between man and the wild nature by filming documentaries, for which he has won 18 awards so far.
Le Lay’s documentaries testify of his passion for nature and mysterious atmospheres surrounding. He connects the vast big world of wildlife with humans, by creating a contrast between the big force of nature and the smaller but very persistent, presence of humans. He seeks out ruthless, but beautiful circumstances and places to film his videos to show the great might of Mother Nature and still point to her precious gifts to the mankind, freedom being the most important of them all.
Film with natural sounds and music give another emotional dimension and this very emotion is what I want to share.
Le Lay started out as a photographer, first taking pictures with a polaroid and then moving to digital camera, but he found his passion in video. He got his first camera when he was 17 to film holiday videos and then his first big exploration of nature, in Australia in 2005.
He is now a director for TV, and he works as a camera operator for French TV channels (Arte, France 5). He has won international awards for:
- La Quête d’Inspiration – Alexandre Deschaumes, Photographies Ethérées – 2012 (7 awards)
- Des Gypaètes et des Hommes – 2011 (5 awards)
- American Loneliness – 2014 (1 award)
Le Lay’s documentaries often reflect his personal life which is closely connected to the theme of his art. He always goes back to nature, finding in it his source of inspiration and strength and gives an example to all of us to follow.
I finally need very little to be happy and reach Happiness. I get rid of the superfluous, I avoid having too much in my life and in my work space since it pollutes the mind.
His recent film, a cinematic poem Sense of Wonder is a breathtaking story. It follows a hiker on his journey to the mountain tops, admiring the nature along the way, taking the time to absorb the feeling of freedom and enjoy the calming silence as a balm for the soul:
A vast silence swallows the sound. A kingdom of mountains rise majestically toward the heavens. A call of the wild to a wandering soul.
The images in the film create a contrast between the greatness of the mountains and the smallness of a human facing their immense power, but they also point out to the fact that a creature as small and insignificant as a human can survive the mountain’s arduous obstacles and win and enjoy the freedom gained by completing such an ordeal.
Its undefinable beauty pointing so clearly to something immeasurably greater than ourselves leaves us feeling small and fragile, yet paradoxically significant and inspired.