Why are you interested in or why do you have sympathy for the idea of werewolves?
We are interested in the theme of the werewolf or the monster – which will also be at the heart of our next feature film – because it offers the possibility of talking about current topics, specifically indoctrination and radicalization or toughening, and of doing so through genre films, which we wanted to explore for some time. So, the initial idea with La naissance du monstre was to tell a story about a person becoming more extreme, but not to do it directly. Instead we tell it through the story of a young girl who thinks she’s a werewolf and ends up doing something irreparable.
Why were you interested in probing into the apparently calm social relations (among the three characters)?
I think we wanted first of all to tackle the uneasiness of being a teenager, which exists in many forms and in every walk of life. Of course there is all the suffering that comes with poverty, which might be increased where radicalization is concerned, but suffering takes on many forms and is also present in more comfortable quarters. It is caused by a multitude of things. In our film, the characters seem to get along “in every way possible”, but if you dig, you realize that they only communicate superficially. There is so much boredom in the family that Flora begins to dream of something else, and as a good “rebellious teenager”, she becomes fascinated by the opposite of what she has at home, i.e. violence. The story is very much about the characters, and we’re not making any generalizations.
Why did you want to talk about adolescence? And Flora’s relationship with her brother at that stage in life?
Adolescence is the period when we are very sensitive. Everything takes on huge proportions in the minds of teenagers. So, for us, it is the transitional age when we overreact to things. Flora is bored, and her reaction, even if it is extreme in her case, is simply the excessive reaction of a teenager to a problem. For this reason, we are somewhat fascinated by the aesthetic of adolescence. Everything is bigger, more intensified, even innocuous things. And her relationship to her brother stems from our own nostalgia: we wanted to explore the slightly naive side of a relationship between two teenagers. Flora’s brother is that “naturally kind” character who always thinks of his sister’s well-being. It is the sort of relationship that we lose as we get older.
How did you become interested in talking about the question of boredom and its relationship to expectations?
What interested us about boredom is that for Flora it is a void that needs to be filled. It is because she is bored and has no passions that she begins to founder. We believe that pushing things to extremes necessarily derives from a form of boredom. Someone with a full life simply does not have the time for that.
In the film, we do not see Flora and Teddy’s father. Where is he?
We do not need to know where he is. The fact is that he is not there. His absence is enough to explain that there is a void in Teddy and Flora’s lives. It is crucial precisely not to explain it. Sometimes, emptiness says more than a detailed explanation.
What sort of freedom would you say the short format allows?
It was not so much the short form itself that offered us greater freedom, it was the way that we made the film and our financial constraints. We did not want to go through the usual production channels, where you are meant to leave your application and then wait – very often several months – to know whether the commission has accepted your proposal. We wanted to experiment; we wanted to film immediately and with no constraints. So we made do with what we had at hand. We were on holiday with some friends in the Jura mountains, so we had our set. And we also had a telephone that could shoot 4k videos, a microphone and a few friends and family members. So we said, “Let’s do it with what we have”. We wrote a plot and we started shooting with no pressure, about one hour per day over the course of a week. It was a little bit like our holiday film in fact. There was no crew and everyone had a hand in doing things. We have the impression that it is very easy to make films nowadays at very low cost: we all have a video camera in our pockets, and it is very easy to do the editing later on at home. The biggest advantage of doing it this way is that you can work fast. We are all rather hurried by nature and this method suits us well. Moreover, it means we have complete freedom over the content. It is something that we will continue to stick up for and experiment with in the future, alongside projects that are produced more “classically”.
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?
We came to Clermont the first time in 2015 with our short films Perrault, La Fontaine, mon cul! and Ich Bin Eine Tata, which were both co-directed with Hugo P. Thomas and Marielle Gautier. It is hard to remember one specific anecdote. The whole Festival was an anecdote because it was the first one of its size that we had been a part of. For us it was the festival (and the year) where we became known. If we had to pick one thing in particular, I would say that the most moving moment was when Daniel Vannet, the non-professional actor who was in both our shorts, won the acting award.