For our first year at school, all of the students had to write and direct a short movie, shot halfway during the second semester. I began brainstorming about an idea as early as the very first start of the first semester, way before my classmates.
It quickly occured to me that I could only write about some personal life events, events which latest developments were still pretty much recent. I knew from the start that it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew I had to choose something I was very passionate about. And if I ended up directing only once in my whole life, it had to be that movie.
I started writing the script right away. I had to put the nine previous years of my life – which included different cities and social environments, climbing and traveling – in a 10 to 15 pages story which had still to be easily understandable and would result in a 10 to 15 minutes short film. I had to adapt while staying truthful, by respect to the real people involved. Remembering in my head the bad memories was painful, as was remembering the good ones. I cried with joy when I was at last able to finish my first draft.
Since I obviously didn’t have the resources to do a blockbuster movie, I decided to use a slice of life approach and dig into experimental filmmaking for some scenes, to help the audience get the feelings and the passing of time.
It was strangely very easy to get the train carriage and climbing gym locations (I even got them for free!). The easiest location on the paper – the flat – ended up being the most difficult to get, and the last one I secured.
Since all the other students – around 20 people – were also making their own movies at the same time (with all filming occuring over a unique two week period), it was not easy to juggle everything, since we were mutually helping each other on our films. Also, not everyone was playing fair game, unfortunately.
When the principal photography wrapped, I was so relieved, as if wings had grown in my back!
Post-production came after straight away and it was a struggle: once the script had been done, I had been able to distance myself from the real events, but as soon as post began, it hit me back again. One teacher insisted several times, trying to make me change the structure of the story, as well as some events in it.
Up to this day, it’s very difficult for me to have an opinion on this first movie. I can say for sure that I don’t hate it. I know some people liked it and others didn’t. I never intended to make the perfect film (and I will never intend to do that) but I was determined to make something good enough, out of respect of the people involved in the real life story.