Why were you interested in this period of late adolescence and Mattis’ path?
I already made a film with young actors two years ago, when they were at the boundary between childhood and adolescence. It was called Comme une grande (Like a Grown-up) and Imane had the starring role. Mattis played her childhood friend. We filmed throughout the year because that is what the scenario required. At the end of shooting, after one year following these actors and watching them grow up, I decided to make another film to continue the story of these two characters from a different point of view. The idea for the script came from what they were experiencing at the time. When we shot The Age of Sirens, the actors were just entering high school. In Noirmoutier, that means leaving the island for a boarding school on the continent. It’s the beginning of a new life. Mattis was the only one who decided to stay. He wanted to learn a trade. I decided to make him my main character. Comme une grande was a movie about a girl who dreamed of leaving the island – and more symbolically, her childhood – whereas The Age of Sirens is a film about the one who stays behind and grows up differently.
How did you come up with the idea to explore the universe of eel fishing? What interested you in Noirmoutier? Did you shoot the film on the island?
They aren’t eels, they’re congers. 🙂
Congers are huge fish, so there is something very physical, even brutal, in this kind of fishing. I was interested in seeing Mattis having his strength and resistance tested, and also to show the pleasure he derives from it. Furthermore, I felt that visually, congers had a shape that made me think of sirens.
In real life, Mattis decided to become a plumber. We transposed the film into the field of fishing, partly for the obvious visual reasons, but not just that. I really wanted to shoot scenes of the open sea and to call on certain sea myths (the sirens) to express Mattis’ feelings. The film was shot in Noirmoutier. That’s where I grew up. So, these are landscapes that I associate with that period of my life.
In The Age of Sirens, Imane seems to be in Mattis’ “friend zone”. Why did you make this choice and what does this extroverted character bring to the film?
That’s how it is in real life. They are unambiguously close. For me, Imane is the friend that Mattis will keep, despite their diverging paths. She also represents the desire to move away and leave the island.
Thomas’ character seems to be the opposite of Imane, but also seems to mock the “dominant male” cliché. How did you come up with this character?
We didn’t see Thomas as a mockery of anything. But it’s true that he is less preoccupied by his manhood than Mattis. He has more of a sense of humor on that subject. I wanted this kind of counterbalance because I didn’t want the film to present a unilateral vision of what it means to “become a man”.
How did you work with the young actors on their performances?
The scenes were written, but the dialogue was not entirely complete. There wasn’t a script to memorize. I just explained to them the essence of the conversation and it was up to them to express these intentions in their own words. We did a lot of rehearsals leading up to the shooting.
Have you ever envisaged following up with a feature-length film, or using some of the imagery from your short film to make a full-length film?
No, to each film its own imagery and story. The next film will be different, with new characters, but still in a maritime environment.
If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
I have never been before. I hope to experience exchanges revolving around cinema, but not only that. I hope to discover some great films.
Have there been any other screenings?
Here is the path of this film so far:
– Festival Côté Court, National Competition, Pantin, 2016
– Kiev International Film Festival Molodist, International Competition, 2016 – Special Jury Mention
– Geneva International Film Festival Tous Ecrans, International Competition, 2016 – RTS award for Best Short Film
– Sarlat Film Festival, National Competition, 2016 – Best Short Film
– Aix-en-Provence Tous Courts International Short Film Festival, Coups de Cœur programme, 2016
– Festival Premiers Plans d’Angers, Official Competition, 2017