Felix & Paul Studios: Making the Virtual a Reality
Stéphane Rituit’s Story
It was Patrick Watson’s 2013 video, Strangers, that kicked-off the success that the studio is enjoying today. For the first time in the history of music videos, a Québécois artist staged himself in an immersive short film where rich polished aesthetics are combined with masterful use 360 3D virtual reality. The video was seen around the world and was the first but not their last production in 2013.
Today the company is lead by the original founding trio: directors Félix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphaël and producer Stéphane Rituit. The latter, a trained accountant, came to Montreal in 2000. He worked for the first Inuit film production company Isuma, who produced the critically acclaimed Atanarjuat. It was during a documentary shoot that Stéfane met his future associates. But it was with the arrival of the first Oculus Rift virtual reality helmets, that they really clicked.
"At the time, 3D virtual reality was virgin territory. Félix, Paul, and I had a vision and we committed ourselves to it. I think that is one of the reasons for our success," says Stéphane Rituit.
As an entrepreneur who works in the cultural realm, artists with entrepreneurial skills are everywhere. He believes that it is crucial to believe in your vision especially when looking for financing as well as embracing risk in the early stages of development.
At the forefront of the industry
Less than four years after founding the company, the number of employees climbed to fifty. The technology developed by Felix & Paul Studios is still a strong contender in the virtual reality industry despite the arrival of new major players like Nokia, Facebook, Google and Samsung.
Stéphane Rituit likes to emphasize, "Felix & Paul Studios was a pioneer in virtual reality creation. We owe much of our success to the spirit of Montreal. We have an exceptional pool of creativity in this city; we have a lot of talent here. "
Artists and entrepreneurs
Stéphane Rituit acknowledges the heartburn and countless sleepless nights that comes along with starting a business, but is quick to reminds us that it is key to never stray from the original vision. His business is in high demand and popularity can lead to difficult decisions.
"We are in such high demand that we sometimes have to refuse projects for fear of being too scattered. We prefer to focus our team's efforts on the development of a few projects at a time. Quantity is not a priority; we have to resist the call of sirens. "
" I am above all film producer. As such, a producer is an entrepreneur. Every film produced is a new company with its own team and infrastructure."
Quebec's virtual reality at the White House
At the end of 2016, Kori Schulman, head of digital development for President Obama, announced a very special event for the end of the presidential term. On January 13, 2017, Felix & Paul Studios' technology officially entered the White House. President Barack Obama gave a tour of the property that could be experienced in 360 virtual reality. The video was viewed over 600,000 times just 24 hours after it was posted.
Felix & Paul Studios also worked with Bill Clinton and Lebron James. The company is not only involved in documentary, the Montreal studio is also regularly invited to prestigious festivals like Sundance.
When discussing the future of the company, Stéphane Rituit says: "We mostly deal with professionals in the industry. Within the next three years, we hope to offer consumer products and reach viewers directly. To do so, we must continue to produce quality content."
Felix & Paul Studios in Numbers
50: the number of employees in January 2017
20: the number of films made
500: annual percentage growth since start-up
Want to learn more?
Visit Felix & Paul Studios’ website