What did you find interesting about the end of the father’s life?
Francis, the father, sees sickness and death as a game. To a certain extent, he sees no separation between the realm of the living and of the dead. For him, a kind of continuity exists. Francis has an intimate connection with both life and death, both of which he sees as illusions. A big joke. There’s something shocking about his behavior but also extremely playful and almost joyful at the same time. What interested me was the way he made his children position themselves in spite of themselves. The question raised by the father is whether we have the right to conceive our own deaths as we wish, in the same way as we plan our own lives.
Why and how did you come up with the musical interludes?
Even before shooting, I already wanted to record the father’s “failed song” so that we could play it on the set. For me, it was the first edifice. It set the tone for the film – offbeat, poetic and pathetic at the same time.
For the rest, I knew that I wanted baroque music: Bach and Telemann. I was looking for some friction with Francis’ slightly punk-rock side in order to give him a more timeless, vertical dimension.
Are you rather fond of whimsical characters and the act of not letting rationalism devour everyday life?
Let’s just say that in my own life, the whimsical often bursts into daily life. For example, the character that takes himself for Jesus and thinks he is being pursued by Paris Match, I really did run into him as I was leaving a play. I think that in films, we don’t take the madness of real life enough into account. In real life, people are generally mad.
How did you come up with the project wall and the father’s “failed song”?
It originally came from an idea to create a tableau of all my past failures which I never took the time to see to the end. And then this idea came back to me as I was writing the film. In the beginning, I imagined using a frame. A real painting. Then, as we were scouting out locations, I came across this dilapidated room with this decomposing wall, and I said to myself that this wall would serve as the tableau. I was fortunate to run into Johanne Carpentier, my set designer, who had a warehouse where we were able to dig up all the necessary elements for the composition.
As for the “failed song”, I wrote these seemingly perfectly failed lyrics with the main actor, Christian Bouillette. We recorded it in the studio with our sound engineer. We had fun trying out about ten different versions, each one more improbable than the next. We ended up going with a simple speaking voice over a pathetic synthesizer and a beatbox, which gave it all a French Daniel Johnston feeling.
Are you particularly fond of the theme of parent-child relationships, and do you have any plans to make more films on this theme?
Yes, it is a theme that is very dear to me. The family unit is at the same time a place of protection and a monster that we struggle to flee. It is an inexhaustible subject. I don’t know yet if my next film will address this theme, but I’m sure the family specter will be prowling about…
Does the short film format give you any particular freedoms?
The main freedom is to be able to choose the actors that I wanted. Economically speaking, it would have been impossible to do that for a feature-length film. The other freedom is to have the opportunity to develop a universe and a narrative mode that does not answer to a business model. In this respect, the short film is a place where poetry (which is nothing more than a unique perspective of the world) is still possible.
If you’ve already been to Clermont-Ferrand, could you share with us an anecdote or story from the festival? If not, what are your expectations for this year?
This is the first time that I have been invited to the Festival. Above all, it is a joy to be a part of this and to know that my film will be seen. It is an important event. There is also the pleasure of discovering other films, other universes, other directors.