Interview with Pierre Ménard, Producer of TKNL, CAN

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Pierre Ménard

As Producer and Head of TKNL’s Exhibition Department, Pierre's expertise allows him to be the centre of all museum-oriented projects, including immersive and interactive experiences that are educational, fun and spectacular in terms of multimedia productions.

TKNL | Muse Awards

Interview with the 2019 Muse Creative Awards Winner - Pierre Ménard

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
Well I used to be an engineer, so I’ve always been fascinated with technology and science, but also history, culture, the Arts, and everything in between. That led me to work on audiovisual projects and television shows focused on popular science, but I quickly moved on to other areas: fiction, documentary, and various museum-oriented projects.

That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for the past thirty years.

I’ve been with TKNL since 2002. We’re based in Montréal, and we do all sorts of stuff from events to video and technological integration, but also educational, fun, spectacular multimedia productions for the general public… and especially anything based on content and storytelling!

As for my role in that outfit, you could say I’ve been at the center of all of TKNL’s museum-oriented projects, including immersive and interactive experiences, since joining in full-time.
2Tell us a bit about your business and what you do.
We’re in the museum/exhibition business, but in the multimedia and Experiential world too. We’re technology-oriented, sure, but much more excited about the “storytelling” aspect of that type of production. In fact, storytelling is the basis, the center of our whole process. Everything flows from that. We want people to learn, understand, catch the meaning of things... but at the same time have fun, be moved, and of course be entertained!
3Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2019 Muse Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?
Generations MTL is a multimedia show that takes you on an immersive, experiential journey straight into the heart of Montréal’s history. Being Montrealers ourselves, the subject really resonated with us. It became a very personal project despite its massive scale, and I think this is why we chose it as our entry for the 2019 Muse Awards.

Steering clear of a conventional history lesson and creating emotion within a tiny, 17-minute timeframe was our first challenge. So we chose to focus on the human aspect of the story, telling all the watershed moments through the eyes of the protagonists themselves, via five narrators of different communities that serve as proxies for their ancestors. In a way, the show is an ode to the builders of Montréal: First Nations, French, English, and all the immigrant communities that made it what it is today.
4What was the biggest challenge with this project?
In fact, we had to deal with four main challenges:

Tell Montréal’s entire history, in a mere 17 minutes while, at the same time, tell a real story, a fun, emotional, captivating, catchy story about Montrealers.

Organizing the space, “dressing” it up to create a living installation that breathes and doesn’t give the spectator the feeling they’re looking at simple projection surfaces, but rather at a gigantic sculpture with its own energy, its own life… a work of art in itself!

There was a certain technological challenge involved as well. We developed a complex scenography, and the final product needed to do it proper justice… not to mention we had many, many elements to coordinate in a very short amount of time... and of course everything had to be solid enough to handle 18 representations a day for ten years… but hey, that’s what we do, and I’m quite pleased with the result!

But, more than anything, the story itself was a challenge. Telling THE story of Montréal, getting the audience interested, captivated, make them want to know more, make them love Montréal, its builders, the Montréal of yesterday and the Montréal of today… and communicating all that with emotion, of course.
5What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
First off, our industry in Montréal is a sort of creative nerve centre. You can see it basically on every street corner. There’s this urgency, this impatience to launch into new adventures, new projects, new challenges... It’s great to just be near this effervescence of knowledge, abilities, energy… and of course creative talent!

Secondly, whether they’re solo or part of an organization, all these people think in terms of projects first and foremost. They’re all about conquering new territory, and they’re certainly not stuck in ivory towers. They love to strike deals and partnerships, to create structures and outfits that would not be possible elsewhere. The project calls the shots, not sterile competition or rivalry. It’s all about fun, creativity, teamwork and ideas… with mind-blowing results! Just the fact we were able to count on Alexis Laurence, from Studio LEX, to direct the whole thing, as well as Eltoro Studio for visuals, TroubleMakers for music, 20K for technological design, and ACMÉ for set design speaks volumes about the flexibility of Montréal’s “creative class”!

Finally, I think we’ve all witnessed formidable technological developments in the past few years. They’ve opened the door for creators like us, allowing us to accomplish amazing things at a cost we couldn’t have dreamed of not so long ago. But what’s even better is that we don’t have to let these technologies decide what’s possible. They’ve become malleable enough to be what they’re supposed to be: tools. Incredible tools, sure, but just tools. And the more these technologies become invisible, efficient, and discreet, the more they allow us to get back to basics: story, emotion, communication.
6Who has inspired you in your life and why?
Two people, without hesitation: Stanley Kubrick, who’s always put the stories first, never seeking the latest tools to tell them, but instead pushing his industry to create, invent, innovate in order to obtain tailor-made tools to meet his needs.

The other is Alexander von Humboldt, an Enlightenment scientist who remained irremediably curious until his very last breath, who never thought of himself, and who communicated and transmitted his own curiosity to everyone around him.
7What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Never consider the audience as an easy one, and don’t think you can just feed them anything.

Everyone, whatever their age, their level of education, or even their social class or income level, is potentially curious. Our task is to light the spark, seek the essence, find that little opening that will help the subject resonate with the audience… and then get in full speed, with maximum presence, effect, affect, and content!

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TKNL is one of the few multimedia-focused companies in Québec that houses creative minds, experts specializing in all manners of multimedia and interactive technologies, cutting-edge, high-quality production, post-production and display equipment as well as designing interactive modules, furniture and scenography.