My latest filmmaker interview is with Belgian filmmaker Guido De Craene. His riveting film Career (Carrière) -- about a CEO who thinks he is a king – will be the film playing at the New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Nigrin: Your gripping short film Career (Carrière) deals with a CEO of a multinational corporation who has a ruthless way of determining how his employees can save their jobs. Tell our audience a little bit more about your film.
De Craene: The more Europe and the US are confronted with this ongoing crisis, the more the masks of the rich and powerful fall off. They get richer while laying off whole villages of working people. And the poor people are getting poorer, thus even less capable of defending or organizing themselves. Everybody feels they're on their own. So my film is a little metaphor of this situation - at first glance maybe exaggerated but I am convinced that society will turn out to be more barbaric than we were trying to convince ourselves.
Nigrin: Your film is essentially silent. Why did you decide to shoot your film this way?
De Craene: First I just started to write the script with dialogue. After all, I came from the theatre (acting and directing) and always thought that dialogue was the most important part of a play or film. But after a few pages I realized I had written very little dialogue and that the situations were told by the images and the actions of the characters. So I deleted the dialogue and put it also into action or images. It gives the film a more universal feel. For me this experience was very important, because now I realize that instead of beginning to write a script through characters talking to each other, it is the last element you need to fill in: only put into dialogue the things you are not able to show through images (locations, characters, action...)
Nigrin: Where did you shoot this film and how long did it take to complete?
De Craene: The shooting of this film was amazing, as all things seemed to fall in place. It was shot at two locations, a sand pit and a newly built office building, both of them within a one mile distance from my home. The sand pit was the first element that triggered my imagination. When I drove home past a beautiful new office building, I tried to make a link between those to very different locations. The film was shot in two days: thirteen hours. For a thirteen minute film this means one minute of screen material per hour that we were shooting. Normally on a professional film set, you have two or three minutes for one shooting day. This was only possible because I had a very focused Director of Photography, Alain Jongen. Though the circumstances were not ideal (weather, continuity problems), he had everything in his head and knew exactly which shots we still had to make, and what would be the most efficient order to shoot them. Also he had an amazing eye for details: a glimpse of an actor, an element of the set that told something about the story...This explains why the film is edited with so many short clips. Alain really had covered everything but it took me weeks of editing to get it all in the right order and choosing between different takes and point of views. The short cuts and the handheld camera give the film a guerrilla look that works very well for the story: survival of the fittest. The fact that there was no dialogue of course made it easier to work fast. But the film only really came to life for me, the first time I went to the sound studio and was confronted with the soundscape and score that Philippe Malempré and Olivier Huillet were working on.
Nigrin: The lead actors are quite compelling. Tell us a little more about them.
De Craene: Because I am also an actor myself, I usually find the casting process very important. But in this case I needed a cast of fourteen men/women, which is a lot for a low budget short movie. And because of my own shooting schedule as an actor for a police series, I had only the two first days of the Kino Kabaret event (Kino Kabaret is a worldwide initiative that originated in Montréal, Canada. The formula is to shoot a short film with the help of an international pool of professionals that subscribe to cooperate as crew members or actors. They can choose a project that one of the directors introduces on the first night of the event.) as possible shooting days for 'Carrière'. So the night that all the directors were pitching their project to this pool of actors and crew members, I knew I had to defend my case strongly. The mike and sound installation that were used to address the two hundred people were lousy and everybody was talking through the presentation of the projects. Then I decided to climb on a chair and not to use the mike. After a few words, everybody became quiet because they couldn't hear me. I was able to make a short pitch of my story and to tell the audience I needed fourteen actors for a two day shoot, starting the next morning at eight o clock. Three people in the audience immediately raised their hands and came to see me and my assistant to read the script. All three wanted to play a part in the movie. Though I was happy with this response I realized I would not be able to shoot my project with only three actors but word of mouth started to get around. Others came asking to read the script, actors that already decided to cooperate started looking for other actors - and within an hour I had a perfect cast. I was particularly happy with the two people I found for the leading parts - Cleo and the CEO. For the CEO I really wanted an actor that was older than the thirty-something ambitious yuppies that would become his victims. Thierry De Coster is a well known French speaking actor and was wildly enthusiastic when he read the script. The story of people randomly being fired by multinational companies sounded very familiar to him because he had worked for one such company. Apart from being a very pretty young woman, Charlotte Mattiussi (Cleo) turned out to be a very good actress. Playing a part without dialogue is often far more difficult for an actor - they often have the urge to underline things by exaggerating their body language. This works in the theatre but most of the time is too much for cinema. She understood that she had to tell us the story, simply by the look of her blue eyes. And of course, she loved the fighting in the arena!
Career (Carrière) - Guido De Craene (Brussels, Belgium)
A CEO of a multinational corporation has a ruthless way of determining how his employees can save their jobs: he thinks of himself as a Roman emperor who rules over life or death, as in an arena. 2012; 13 min.
Meherjaan - Rubaiyat Hossain (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
A deeply moving and expertly crafted feature film, Meherjaan begins during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, when a beautiful young woman named Meher falls in love with an enemy soldier. After their love affair is discovered, she is shamed and silenced by her family and society. Now, 38 years after the war, Meher reunites with Sarah, a close relation, who was given away for adoption, and has come back to Bangladesh to piece together her past. Together, these two women must re-tell history through their own stories in order to cut through stigmas and walk into the light. Although Meherjaan generated controversy in Bangladesh for its critique of war and the pitfalls of nationalism, it is a film that should be celebrated and widely seen for the resolution it offers to violence, through the transcendence of love. In Bengali, Urdu, and English, subtitled. 2011, 119 min. With an in-person appearance by director Rubaiyat Hossain!
Sunday-September 23, 2012
Voorhees Hall #105, Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey
$10=General; $9=Students+Seniors; $8=Rutgers Film Co-op/NJMAC Friends
Go to www.njfilmfest.com or call (848) 932-8482 for more info!