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Marie Constantinesco

MacGuffin Films

1) How did you get into directing? 
It wasn’t exactly a straight road. I didn’t have a television growing up, so I absolutely loved watching films on a big screen. Good films made me feel like I was in them. I remember sitting in the movie theater long after the credits had run for “In the Mood for Love,” completely in awe. As a teenager, I wanted to change the world, and I didn’t realize I could do that with films. I studied law and English literature at Cambridge University and La Sorbonne. Simultaneously, I spent most of my free time directing plays and taking photographs. After becoming a lawyer I thought, “What would happen if I devoted all of my time to filmmaking?” So I applied to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Graduate Film School and moved to New York to direct films.

2) What is your most recent project? 
“My Life in Sourdough,” a web series that is a blend between a romantic comedy and a cooking show. The series chronicles the culinary adventures of Jeanne, a French girl looking for a love as orgasmic as bread making. I’m currently in pre-production for Season 3, which will shoot this summer in Paris.

3) What is the best part of being a director? 
Directing is about trusting your instincts while making a million collaborative decisions. I love that balance.

4) What is the worst part of being a director? 
The craft service table.

5) What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
My current career focus is commercials. I love short form content and I’m really excited to be telling stories in that format. The visual aspect of directing commercials, where every frame counts, is a great challenge. I’m also working on developing some personal narrative film projects; including a feature film, which is a coming of age / romantic comedy.

6) 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? 
Laura Belsey is a great commercial and TV director and used to be my professor at NYU. Her advice was to carve out time for personal projects because that would help develop one’s own voice while becoming a stronger director. I really believe commercial work and personal work enrich each other.

7) Who is your favorite director and why? 
Andrea Arnold. I love the brutal energy of her films; the way she does street casting, as well as the fluidity of the camera work. There is an authenticity in the way she directs and pays attention to subtle details that gives way to very raw emotion. Recently, at the Tribeca Film Festival, she paralleled her filmmaking to cooking without a recipe, throwing in whatever is in the cupboard. I love that idea.

8) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
Favorite Film: “Thelma and Louise.” Callie Khouri’s script is so powerful. From page one, the characters come alive. The humor of the dialogue, along with the fast-paced structure, makes this script a strong basis for the film; which is also spectacular both in terms of mise-en-scène and acting. I love the spirit of the film, its irreverence. It’s a political film, yet it’s entertaining, empowering and beautifully shot. 

Favorite TV Show: “The Affair.” I love the way this series uses the concept of seeing the same event through multiple points of view. A love story is entangled with a thriller—brilliant!

Favorite commercial: Maille “Memories.”
A tabletop director’s dream. 

9) Tell us about your background (i.e. where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I grew up in Alsace, France making red and black currant jams. I lived in Los Angeles for a year, taught French at USC and interned at the Legal Aid Foundation, where I dealt with organizing tenants against the slumlords of Skid Row. I loved LA, but somehow ended up back in France making bread. After graduating from law school, I practiced for a bit then found myself teaching at Liverpool law school: My perfectly logical road to becoming a director.