Love is Like Life But Longer

Poppy de Villeneuve

How did you get into directing?
I have wanted to be a director since age 18, but felt I didn’t have enough life experience. I started taking photographs to explore the world, road trips finding subcultures (Angola Penitentiary inmates & characters on the Texas/Mexico borderland) and letting landscapes, like Appalachia, reveal unseen and unusual things. Two years ago I approached The New York Times to make a short film of musicians and fans at Coachella Music Festival. The response to the film was very positive and Partizan took me on as a director. I followed up with other short film and interview projects for various publications and made my first U.K. commercial in October, 2010, for Walmart’s English supermarket chain Asda.

What is your most recent project?
Love is Like Life but Longer is a 10-minute film about how a chance meeting with a stranger can change life forever, exploring the faith required in order to give and receive love. Blind since birth, Michael is a famous young novelist visiting New York for book signings. When he stumbles in the lobby of his downtown hotel, a young nun sees him struggling and stops to help. Although their encounter lasts only minutes, both feel a deep and lasting impact, but realize that to find each other again will require not only “blind” faith but the courage to hold on and the strength to accept loss. The film was commissioned by Morgans Hotel Group for the opening of their New York Mondrian Soho.

What is the best part of being a director?
Collaboration. I love being able to connect with DPs, actors, sound mixers and all the skilled people involved to bring out the best in them, together creating a shared vision of a particular story. Also, the thrill of having an initial fantasy, then watching it grow, change and become a proper film. To let go of a fixed idea and let a project take on a life of its own feels unique to the film making experience, something truly organic but with such intensive work put in place beforehand. I like the boundaries—to have to tell a story in 20 seconds, 10 minutes or an hour and a half is an intriguing experience, with its own challenge.

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 most with you?

I don’t have one mentor, but have been affected by many people along the way. I worked on the sound recording for Jonathan Glazer’s film Birth. This had a huge effect on me—seeing him in the studio, seeing a real person with concerns and questions, trying to find answers. Noticing the complexity of problem solving, day by day, to achieve a desired goal helped demystify the director for me. I still appreciate the advice of another mentor, a method acting teacher who showed me that we cannot hide. A search for truth continually interests me and I am inspired by people who live well and honestly and take responsibility for their actions.