Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I fell in love with cinema when I was a kid. I studied cinema at the university and went to an acting school. Later on, I founded my own theater company and I wrote and staged shows ever since. I came back to filmmaking only recently but I always had a very cinematic approach to theater, by using video sometimes or by using a montage-like for the organization of the scenes, often creating shows with only images and no words.
Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production?
Finding the right place, really fitting the needs of the scenes and the story, was really tough as the all project was depending on it. “Water” is set in an empty apartment but you never really get a sense of its real geography and as the film goes it is more and more changing. Studios and set design were too expensive, and the apartment had to appear real and ordinary at first. The location we found was great but it was small and quickly overcrowded and very hot (we shot in summer) and we had to constantly move all the technical stuff to make it look empty. So matching the artistic intentions with the practical conditions turned out to be pretty challenging.
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?
I’ve always been fascinated by stories about perception, subjectivity and even madness, and by characters who are drawn deeper and deeper into their inner world and lose touch with reality. I’m especially interested in the representation of dreams in films.
I think life is a very subjective experience and each one of us kind of create the world they’re living in. The frontier between dream and reality, between subjectivity and objectivity, is thin and unclear. So what is reality? Is there a common ground? There seems to be one, obviously, but we can’t really all agree on its nature because of the way we perceive it. Life appears to be a matter of point of view, and so does cinema.
I think art, and particularly cinema, is a fantastic way to express this very subjective and personal experience, and reflect on it. And managing to share it with others, despite – and because of – its very personal nature, is an awesome and unique way to find a common ground and connect with each other.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?
When researching for a new project, I have to feel the real need to do it. And I always prepare a lot – writing and re-writing, sketching, taking loads of notes… I found that the more I prepare, the more I’m able to welcome the unexpected and the propositions of each collaborator. To me, the most important thing is to find the “grammar”, the visual language that will fit with this particular project. I try to find the form that will already say something about the content.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?
I really dived into cinema discovering the movies of Stanley Kubrick (The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut) and Roman Polanski (Repulsion, Rosemary’s baby, The tenant), and they remain very inspirational to me. And although I have a much wider range of interest and taste, I’m naturally drawn to films and filmmakers with a dark, strange and dreamlike world: David Lynch, Jane Campion, Ingmar Bergman (Persona, Hour of the wolf), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a dream, Mother!), ore more recently Lynne Ramsay (You were never really here) or David Robert Mitchell (It follows, Under the Silver Lake), for example. As for Water, my latest short movie, After hours by Martin Scorsese and Mother! by Darren Aronofsky have been my main influences and sources of inspiration.
I could also cite TV shows like The leftovers, Homecoming and Maniac.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?
I’m no expert but it seems to me that the industry is at a turning point, because change is happening on two fundamental levels at the same time: all these new technologies changing and arriving at a crazy pace; and the platforms and the internet in general remodeling the ways of watching and accessing the movies. Today, almost everyone can shoot a film, even only with their phone, and share it with a lot of people, so it’s way easier today to just do something on your own (And maybe COVID only sped this up). On the other and, it also means that it’s maybe harder than ever to exist in this endless stream of images. But it also raises the questions of matching the ends and the means, and the very purpose of filmmaking: after all, it takes more than a pen to make a writer…
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?
First of all, it’s a long and a hard journey, especially if you don’t have any family or personal connections in the business. So you have to be sure you really need to engage in it, that you can’t do anything else, that you were meant to do this. A great deal of the time and energy you’ll have to put in your projects won’t have anything to do with art or even cinema, but only with working your way and just trying to survive – and learning to do so without losing yourself.
I think you also have to be honest and clear about what you really want, and why you want it. There are many (good) ways to make movies, between art and entertainment, you just have to find out what is really right for you and be honest about it.
In short: Be true but don’t forget to learn the ropes. Learn the ropes, but don’t forget to stay true!
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?
Not in a direct and actual way, no. But it absolutely can affect a person, in a profound and decisive way. And an individual is a world in itself, and the world is made of individuals…
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?
I’m really not sure the pandemic changed anything in that matter. But it’s still very recent, so I guess we’ll find out more about this in the years to come…
I have no idea what people like to watch these days because I don’t believe there really is such a thing as “the audience”. Each year, there are myriads of new movies, much more than you can even hope to watch – and it adds up and it adds up and it adds up. It became overwhelming a long time ago, already. So I’m guessing there will an increasingly large number of totally different audiences, with their specific taste, and knowing next to nothing about the others’, like parallel worlds. Which could turn out to be a great thing, because a lot of artists would be able to find their specific audience, without needing to be mainstream – and will there still be such a thing as “mainstream”?
Please tell us about your upcoming projects.
I’m eager to continue to explore the ways of depicting dreams in movies, and I’m currently working on different short movie projects on this subject. I also have a related feature film project, but it’s a much longer journey…