Since co-founding Moment Factory in 2001, executive creative director, Sakchin Bessette has spearheaded the creation of over 450 multimedia shows, installations and destinations around the world. He leads the studio in a quest to amaze, inspire and bring people together by exploring new types of entertainment. As Moment Factory has grown, now with 300 team members in Montreal, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London and Tokyo, Bessette has fostered an environment where artists can collaborate and evolve. He was the creative lead driving many of Moment Factory’s most prominent interactive installations, public spaces, events and permanent architectural media installations, including the studio’s work at Los Angeles International Airport, Madonna’s Super Bowl half time show, Nine Inch Nails’ tours, and Foresta Lumina.
Who or what has had the biggest impact on your career and why?
I think it’s a human thing. It’s the people I’ve worked with – either in our team or clients – who have had the biggest influence on me. Of course, milestone projects such as the Nine Inch Nails Lights in the Sky tour and working with Madonna for the Super Bowl half time show have had a big impact too. But it’s working with people on a personal level that has allowed me to grow the most. It’s about what you’re most proud of and for me that is the studio, the culture we’ve created and the passion our team has.
What was your vision when you co-founded Moment Factory?
When we launched the company we were just thinking ‘this is so much fun and is the most amazing thing we could be doing right now.’ There was no real long-term plan, it was just about doing what was most exciting and satisfying. We were part of a revolution and having an audience for the art we were creating was great. It was so much hard work too and there were a lot of sleepless nights so it was not like we were looking for an easy way out.
Why we were doing what we were doing become clearer later on. We wanted to create public experiences and bring people together physically in public spaces. Humans are fundamentally sociable animals and need to connect physically. It’s like the campfire theory; we gather around campfires to share stories and knowledge and feel a human connection. I think we need to have great reasons to bring people together to share experiences and be entertained. This is only possible when people gather physically. That’s what we do – we make experiences that bring people together.
What challenges do you face in your role?
I think the first challenge, but also the most amazing part, is the human element. Everyone that’s creating experiences in their studios brings a dedication, a passion and emotional reactions. If you create a studio like ours the human aspect is really fundamental. It’s about how we create the most amazing experiences and how we inspire and support each other whilst doing this. The ongoing fundamental challenges can also be the most motivating thing. I see people grow and I feel like I’m growing whilst I’m learning from all the people we work with, whether they’re clients or my team. In this way it is like an ever-evolving challenge and it’s very inspiring.
What is the key to creating technologically advanced and immersive experiences that have real impact?
It’s a very multi-disciplinary challenge; many things need to come together. The technology is one element but there’s also the content, storytelling, the context, the space, the type of audience and designing something that people can experience. Creating a successful project requires a mix of people with different expertise. We have set up a studio that has a lot of multi-disciplinary talent, from the technical and creative teams through to the interactive and production teams.
What is the most impressive technology you’ve used?
It’s really not all about technology, it’s about what we do with it. It’s how we use lights, materials and content to create illusions and engage people to interact in new ways. Technology is a very useful tool and it makes certain things possible, but we don’t usually start a project thinking about the technology. We begin by thinking about the emotion and engagement and the relationship we want to have with the audience. We need to think about the type of audience we are dealing with and what the content is and then the technology comes next. When there are so many different tricks and tools and technology is evolving so fast the key is to focus on how we mix it all together to create a new experience.
How can technology be used to tell stories?
When they invented cinema or VR, for example, they had to use new tools to tell stories. In cinema they experimented with cutting between a close-up and wide shot to show the emotion of the character. We’re dealing with similar issues when working with our mediums and finding new ways to tell stories. But we can’t tell the same types of stories in the same ways they do in cinema, TV or theatre because the contexts are very different. If people are walking by in an airport their attention span and the context isn’t the same as watching a movie in a cinema. You don’t have the same tools or the potential to do close-ups or voiceovers. It’s not like a TV series which has multiple episodes and you know the characters or the background already.
We aim to tell engaging and immersive stories that are adapted to the environment and the context we’re working in. The technology is one tool that helps tell the story. Sometimes it’s with light, sometimes it’s with sound, LED screens, holograms or augmented reality. Sometimes there are multiple stages to the experience. If we’re working on an interactive installation in a museum it’s the whole sequence of different elements that helps tell the story.