1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first commissioned work was my short film for Laura Lémerveil, my NDS entry.
The short is a tender and human account of Victor and his non-verbal, wheelchair-bound daughter Annie, and the profound effect her arrival in the world has had on him, as well as how the Laura Lémerveil organization was able to help him not just manage the enormous task, but come to find the beauty in it.
It was shot in September of 2018 and came out in January 2019.
2) How did you get into directing?
Since I was very young, I always loved movies. As a teen in Quebec I thought I would become a pro snowboarder but a set of injuries turned me into the cameraman/editor of my friend group. At that point it was just about shooting tricks and editing them to cool music. Slowly my taste in films evolved and I began experimenting with narrative short films. By the time I was in university I knew that’s all I wanted to do.
Filmmaking is so many things wrapped into one – all in an effort to convey an idea, an emotion and to create a connection. That’s what excites me about what I do.
3) What is your most recent project?
My first feature film Everything Outside came out in theatres in Canada last month. It was a long time coming, a true labor of love and I’m really proud of it.
I’m currently editing my first documentary. It tells the story of my journalist friend Sébastien (co-directing the film with me) who, having grown up a biracial child with his single white mother in Quebec, met his Rwandan father 3 months ago for the first time at 28 years old. This man was unaware of his existence until the day they met. In this 25th year since the genocide, the film tells Sébastien and his father’s story and explores the relationship between identity and family. We shot it on film in Rwanda last April.
4) What is the best part of being a director?
Not that I’m particularly acquainted with the work of Robert Altman (shame on me) but I had heard a quote from him somewhere saying that filmmaking was the opportunity to live many lifetimes. That really struck me and I think I know what he meant.
Filmmaking is such an intense experience. You really get to (have to) delve deep into a story, a person or a group and get to understand them.
Projects where connections can be created on a human and personal level with people, be it an actor, a subject or a fellow filmmaker/collaborator is what I seek and where I find joy. You always come out at the end of it with a deeper appreciation for others and their experience.
5) What is the worst part of being a director?
I feel really lucky to be directing and working on projects I feel passionate about with people I love so it’s hard to complain. That being said, maybe it’s not the worst part, but from the minute I begin writing to the moment the mix is done, I live with this incredibly loud voice in my mind questioning every single decision I make along the way, not doubting, but endlessly seeking for a better approach or way of doing x, y and z. It can feel really exhausting, but I also think it’s thanks to this that I get to the finish line with a film I’m proud of, knowing I’ve explored every avenue possible and truly went with my guts.
6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
After spending several years on my first feature film right out of university, I do crave at the moment smaller projects that I can see completed and out into the world in a shorter timespan. I’ve spent the last year doing just that, orienting myself towards commercial work and short films. I’ve slowly begun writing a new longer project though.
7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I’m mostly inspired and influenced by my fellow filmmaker friends around me, Brock Newman, Farhad Ghaderi, Blake Davey. We talk all the time about our current projects, aspirations and so on.
Bojan Bodružić was my first film professor in university I felt had a similar outlook on films as I did. His approach and references felt contemporary and relevant. Even years after teaching me he’s been so generous in providing feedback and guidance on my films, which I value a lot.
8) Who is your favorite director and why?
To me, films are most powerful when they not only present but fully and equally embody both sides of a good argument; personal, grounded, yet far reaching in their scope. That is where Ruben Östlund operates. Especially in Play. And I love that he is fully aware that he’s the combination of Haneke and Larry David.
I am continually amazed by Jafar Panahi’s creativity in his recent circumstances and love his playful defiance. He masterfully blurs the line of reality and fiction like no other, all while keeping his focus on the matters at hand rather than on the contrivances of his cinema.
Aki Kaurismäki is just one of a kind, a true original and he reminds me to be myself, to be fearless.
9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
La Haine by Matthieu Kassovitz. Mostly because it’s the first film I saw, a long time ago, where I clued in on what a director did – that there was someone orchestrating it all.
The style is loud and really in your face but the showy mise-en-scene is justified and perfectly supports the story and the characters. The actors are phenomenal, the themes never cease to burn with actuality, and it’s endlessly quotable–C’est à moi que tu parles?!
I also love Lost in Translation, Holy Motors, Take Shelter...(list goes on)
A spot I love that comes to mind is the Canal Plus "Bear" by Matthijs Van Heijningen – too good.
The Tshegue music video by Pantera I watch really often.
10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in a bilingual home in Quebec City, Canada. I then went to boarding school in Switzerland before studying Arts at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
After school I was an office assistant and receptionist at a film distribution company in Montreal for a year. That just reaffirmed that office life wasn’t for me! But I got really good at my job really quick and that meant I could write and prep for my film during office hours – not to mention access to a printer!