Brad Pitt has teamed up with Emmy-award winning music producer Damien Quintard to relaunch the historic Miraval Studios, where Pink Floyd, Sting, The Cure and AC/DC recorded their albums. It is being redesigned as an exclusive film and music production and post-production facility in a beautiful setting.
The studio is located in a majestic vineyard estate, Château Miraval, that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie leased in 2008, purchased in 2011 and held their wedding there in 2014. Jolie sold her 50% ownership in the property in 2021.
Spanning 1,235 acres of land in the heart of the Provence wine region, the estate occupies a private valley in the village of Correns – the first French village where everything must be farmed organically by law.
The studio is part of a broader project that includes winemaking, in partnership with the Perrin family, a leading French organic winemaker. The estate is renowned for its rosé wines.
This precious corner of France, only a 90-minute drive from Cannes, has also attracted high-profile Hollywood neighbors within a 15-mile radius: George and Amal Clooney bought the Domaine du Canadel, in 2021, and George Lucas’s Skywalker Vineyards purchased nearby Château Margüi in 2017.
Studio Miraval, its previous name, was built in Château Miraval in 1977 by French jazz pianist Jacques Loussier and sound engineer Patrice Quef, but it has laid dormant since 2002.
In 2021 Pitt decided to relaunch the studio and signed a joint venture with Quintard. Pitt explained his motivation for the project: “When I first set my eyes on Miraval, I knew it was a remarkable place, and it was of the utmost importance to honor its iconic history. It’s a place where many people work to achieve the highest standards of quality, whether in winemaking or music. Miraval Studios will serve as a natural extension of our desire to facilitate a space for all possibilities.”
The renovated studio facility will open this summer. Some of the original microphones and fittings are maintained but the new design includes a major refurbishment, including the entry of more natural sunlight.
The main studio is approximately 3,000 square feet with a 650-square-foot control room.
The sound recording facilities include the Dolby Atmos surround sound technology that allows sounds to be interpreted as three-dimensional objects.
The goal is not only to operate as a music recording and mixing studio, but to welcome film and TV projects, while exploring bridges with the world of contemporary art.
This reflects the shared interests and experience of both Pitt and Quintard.
Quintard is founder and CEO of recording company The Mono Company, and SoundX, a pioneering R&D company exploring the future of audio-visual technologies. One of SoundX’s first projects is an AI tool calibrated for persons with hearing disabilities, which translates sound into vibrations.
He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Live and Direct to Tape Sound Mixing for the 2015-2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony and in 2020 was included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list in France.
Quintard also produced the sound design for the DAU project – described as the “Soviet Truman Show” – based on an immersive art installation in Paris, recreating a Soviet research institute that has generated 17 films to date, including two films that premiered in the 2020 Berlinale.
Variety talked to Quintard about the project
What’s your main target for Miraval Studios: Is it primarily aimed at music or film projects?
Our goal is to be open to a wide range of projects. We want to be able to cater to any kind of inspiration – from pop to classical music, and from movies to documentaries. Above all it’s about a state of mind. Whether your work involves video or sound, we can offer a playground for inspiration. It opens a new door for creativity and peace of mind when you write or compose in a setting like this. It’s all about good vibes and simplicity. A director can come here and think about writing their next project. It creates space to release people’s creativity. The estate is located in one of the world’s most beautiful wine domains. It also has a rich history dating back to the Templars. The Prince of Naples used to live here. It’s a marriage between rosé wine, the olive oil, the trees, the music, the lake. It’s all very inspiring! It’s a beautiful recipe for creation.
The zone is also attracting Hollywood talent…
Yes! When George Lucas and George Clooney are your neighbors, it obviously inspires you to produce things linked to cinema and video. The pandemic accelerated the transition to online workflows when it comes to major productions. You often start a project in one country and finish it somewhere else digitally. That’s also what we’ll be doing at Miraval. It’s not just an isolated facility. With modern technology we can be linked to the entire industry. You’ll be able to feel the presence of the studio, as if it’s your neighbor, even if you’re in L.A.
How did you meet Brad Pitt and get started on this project?
I met Brad in early 2021 through the realm of modern arts. I did work on many different projects like Philippe Parreno and ARCA’s site-specific installation at MoMA in 2019. And then someone told me, “Brad wants to meet you.” It all started from there. I believe that Brad and I share the same vision on simplicity and emotions. It’s a place where we will try to create good things. This opening this summer will be very exciting.
How has Brad Pitt’s vision contributed to this project?
It’s a studio for the modern era. He has brilliant ideas, and a unique approach to producing things. It’s very exciting to be combining both of our expertise in sound and in video, both worlds collide.
What equipment will you have for film and TV productions?
We can provide facilities for pre-production, production and post. We will have gear to sustain any kind of production, we aim to cover all the bases. For example, Studio 1 has a huge main space and control room. It has pre-mixing for cinema capacities and we’re working on having state-of-the-art editing and mixing rooms. We will have one of the best Dolby Atmos setups, developed in collaboration with Dolby. I’m very proud of our collaboration with Dolby. The people at Dolby understood they had to adapt a cinema workflow to a music workflow. I am very happy how far we have gone with this technology, working hand in hand before and after its release. We had the first Atmos Music studio in France and Miraval Studios will have a world reference mixing space.
Are the studios also equipped for immersive production?
Absolutely. We cover the whole ground when it comes to immersive production. I am pursuing R&D in this field via my company SoundX. I am particularly interested in ensuring that music and film is inclusive and can be adapted to persons with disabilities. That’s the main goal of my company SoundX, and yes I’m an Elon Musk fan! As an example, I thought Nicolas Becker’s work on Darius Marder ’s “Sound of Metal” was really inspiring. He won an Oscar for Best Sound and it was great to consult with him on the project. It shows how you can feel music as a deaf person and we need to do more and bring a spotlight on these issues.
Will any of the lessons you learned from the DAU project spill over into this new venture?
DAU was an all-consuming project. It was different from anything else you could imagine. We had to mix together so many different influences. The Greek-Russian composer Teodor Currentzis, played the lead and performed live. We worked with people like Brian Eno and Robert del Naja, and had voiceovers by actors such as Gerard Depardieu. Many different worlds collided. It was like being in a great collider, a particle accelerator. It was extremely inspiring.
The austere atmosphere of the DAU project is almost the opposite of the Miraval Studios but is there anything in common?
Creativity often benefits from isolation, which can be found in different ways, whether in DAU or Miraval. For example, I started my career with Teodor Currentzis. He decided to go to the Ural city of Perm. It’s minus 35º C out there, kind of a Siberian city. He put his orchestra there and isolated everything. He could have gone to Berlin or Paris. He told me, ‘When you have an artistic mission and you want to succeed you must be able to focus on the message. Close your eyes and focus on the work.’ It was a crazy experience. We worked on Mozart, Mahler, Tchaikovsky. The quality was so amazing. Everyone could cancel out the external world. DAU was based on the same principle. Forget everything else and focus on the message. I find the same philosophy in Miraval. Of course, it’s much more pleasant and beautiful. With vines and trees everywhere. But it’s essentially the same principle. A beautiful place doesn’t mean it should be stale, even Versailles had its fair share of turmoil! Essentially I’m attached to a positive and organic vision of the world. Miraval is also a complex space like any creative space. If you read the history of Miraval, you never know what will arise. We want the unexpected to happen!