Air comprimé is a film about the anxiety of becoming a parent. Can you tell us how this film came into being?
The idea for the film came to me when I was about to become a father. I was in a strange state of mind at the time, I won’t get into the details but it was a very nerve-wracking wait. I was simply scared to have a child. For several reasons, but the main one was the belief that your childhood was over once and for all, and that you have taken a symbolic step closer to death. I wanted to address this particular waiting period where a man sees his wife’s stomach grow, that physical and mental 9-month metamorphosis for both members of the couple. Then, the fictional point of departure began when I read in the newspaper that a couple had been targeted in the street by shots from a paintball gun. It was from that event that I developed Vincent’s story as he progressively sinks into a desire for vengeance on the background of his prenatal neurosis.
Did you have any difficulties finding the actor to portray this future father-to-be?
No difficulty at all. I had a fairly precise idea of the physical appearance of my character when I was writing the script. When I then saw Thomas Blanchard in a film, the penny dropped and I knew he was the actor I needed. Then we met, Thomas read the script, he immediately understood the character and the tone of the film, on the edge of tragedy and comedy, where you don’t know whether to laugh or not… Well, I hope that is the impression the film gives.
What was the biggest problem you encountered during the shooting of Air Comprimé?
Overall, the shooting of Air Comprimé went very smoothly. With my team and the actors, we spent a lot of time preparing the scenes in advance just so we would avoid any major problems. However, I would speak more of an apprehension with some days a bit more stressful than others. In particular, I’m thinking of the opening scene where the couple is targeted by a paintball shooter in ambush. Everything was planned out and happened exactly as you saw it, but a paintball gun is a weapon that can cause a lot of damage, so of course we were worried about an accident. All the more since Hugo, the student in the film, gets hit in the head with a ball at the end of the film. So, the difficulty I encountered was of a psychological nature. I took a moment to relax so I could calmly shoot that scene. I hate feeling tense on the set, it blocks me. That scene in particular was well-planned, every shot, every action and movement of the characters was calculated. A paintball expert was present on the set, he was responsible for the shots and for protecting the actors, he was extremely professional. I have complete trust in my technical team. That helps a lot when you shoot this kind of scene. I would like to take the opportunity to commend the work of these technicians on the sets of short films who often invest a lot while being paid little or not at all. For a director, it is touching to witness this kind of cohesion. To say goodbye to this amazing team wasn’t easy for me.
Are there any directors that you find particularly interesting in the national or international competitions?
No, not particularly. I am interested in all of them.
Are there any particular freedoms that the short film format allows you?
That all depends on the director and the genre of film that is being shot. I think that the short film is a very difficult format to handle. But it allows me to experiment and try things out, that’s for sure. For Air comprimé for example, I tested a type of humor, a particular style for our main character, a tone for the film that would be quite difficult to develop in a feature-length film, except if we were to master it perfectly. So a form of liberty, yes and no, because aside from the financial stakes that are less important in the short film, it is possible to take risks and to enjoy as much freedom in the making of a feature-length film, it all comes down to the choices made by the director and his producer. He who lacks freedom, that is what he wants deep down.