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VIFF 2016 Interview: STONE MAKERS director Jean-Marc E. Roy

STONE MAKERS - At #VIFF16
by Jason Whyte

"I would say my movie is timeless. It's a film about man, an exercise in observation and an exploration of sound. It's a work that will leave you spellbound and breathless. Even though a film is technically always fifty-fifty image and sound, this is fundamentally true for STONE MAKERS." Director Jean-Marc E. Roy on STONE MAKERS which screens at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

I am thrilled to welcome you to VIFF this year. Is this your first VIFF experience and will you be in Vancouver to attend your screenings?

Unfortunately, I'm unable to make the trip this year. Though my previous film BLUE THUNDER was also screened at VIFF last year, I have never had a chance to attend the festival. Maybe next year!

So tell me a bit about yourself and your background!

I live in Chicoutimi, Quebec, and I'm a huge fan of French-Canadian popular culture. I started making movies back in 1999 and work in both documentary and narrative modes. Several of my films have been screened abroad and won prizes. I picked up the CALQ Creator of the Year Award and the Saguenay/Lac-Saint-Jean Cultural Contribution Award in fall 2015. BLUE THUNDER was selected for the 47th Directors' Fortnight at Cannes in 2015 and nominated for prizes at the Gala du cinema quebecois and the Canadian Screen Awards in 2016. Other works of mine (Puisqu'il le faut, Jupiter Applause, Nevermind, Anata O Korosu and Life and Death of Yul Brynner) have enabled me to travel the world over the years. I just completed my short STONE MAKERS in conjunction with the NFB and am in preproduction for Des histoires inventees, my feature documentary on filmmaker Andre Forcier. In 2002, I co-founded 3REG, a collective that supports artistic works made under certain constraints. In 2008, I teamed up with Philippe David Gagne to found the production company La Boite de pickup. We are now shooting a new short, CREME DE MENTHE, set for release in early 2017.

How did this movie come together from your perspective?

From the start, my aim with this documentary was to work and play with sound. Sound and music are ever-present in my films, and this time I wanted to push the envelope even further. I like to give myself constraints and use them to build the narrative, and this was certainly the case with STONE MAKERS. I like to take ordinary events in our daily lives, zoom in on them and capture their beauty. That was the main goal I hoped to achieve with this five-minute short.

While you are working on a movie, what keeps you going? What drives you, creatively?

I like exchanging ideas, getting a dialogue going, challenging myself and being challenged by others. I enjoy the three phases of creation: first on paper, then with the camera and finally in the editing. I like surrounding myself with people who aren't afraid to ask hard questions. I also love bringing out the best in people.

What was your biggest challenge with STONE MAKERS?

This project presented plenty of challenges: the camera assigned to us, the shooting conditions, and even my own personal goal of emphasizing sound. Yet I live for such challenges. They are part of my practice. I would even say I need them to operate.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

The editing was a definite high point. The editor Stephane Lafleur and I had the freedom and luxury to experiment. Another highlight was my work with sound designer Christian Rivest, who took great delight in surprising me. Finally, seeing the beauty of the raw images captured by my director of photography, Vincent Biron, really blew me away.

For the aspiring filmmakers who read our site, I would love to know about the technical side of the film.

As I said earlier, filmmaking involves plenty of teamwork, so obviously my director of photography, Vincent Biron, has left his mark on the film.Stone Makers was a fairly technical production. Besides the need to use the Digital Bolex D16 Monochrome, in keeping with the NFB's 5 Shorts Project, we had other constraints; our subject matter, the people on site, the location, and the reality and danger of filming in a granite quarry. The structure of the film revealed itself in the editing both in image and sound, so postproduction efforts were just as important and rewarding, both for the film and for me.

Where is this movie going to show next?

It just arrived in Vancouver after appearing in Vladivostok. It is a niche film, so I have no idea what the future holds. We shall see. The NFB is working on distribution.

If you could show your movie in any theater in the world, which one would you choose and why?

I have already been lucky enough to present my work in many theatres around the world, each one beautiful in its own way. I would say that a theatre embracing films that are different and edgy is always the best place for filmmakers to screen their work.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being overall disruptive during a screening of your film?

I would adopt my best passive-aggressive voice and say, "Seriously?"

There are many aspiring filmmakers reading us for our articles and reviews on efilmcritic.com. If you could offer a nugget of advice to them on how to get their start, what would you say to them?

Make films. Practise your craft. Don't worry about sometimes failing. You need to experiment and present work in front of actual people. The Internet can be fun, but nothing beats having a real live audience that appreciates your work. But my main advice is simply to tell a good story.

And finally, what is the best movie you have ever seen at a film festival, and why?

Often it is not just the film but also the context that is unforgettable. Festivals exist to create these contexts and allow for exchanges to occur. I could mention career highlights like the Palais des Festivals at Cannes, theatres in Busan, wild nights in Winterthur and at Regard, and encounters I had in Oberhausen, Sao Paulo and Vladivostok. I could speak of my love for Forcier, Waters, Jarmusch, Verhoeven, Truffaut and other filmmakers. And I could name incredible films like Gina, Brazil, Adaptation, Palindromes and Boogie Nights. But if I did that, I would be overlooking works like Spinal Tap, Rocky, Die Hard and all the Schwarzenegger movies that shaped my childhood.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival taking place in beautiful Vancouver from September 29th to October 14th. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.viff.org.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte



link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=4003
originally posted: 10/12/16 18:58:17
last updated: 10/12/16 19:04:14
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