Today, I have the pleasure to present you a brand new formula: A coffee with…
The concept is quite simple. I’m having a coffee with a director and we discuss his or her works, inspirations. To start this new concept, I had the great pleasure of meeting Alexa-Jeanne Dubé, a young actress and Quebec director.
Here is the essential of what we had the opportunity to discuss:
Meeting with Alexa-Jeanne Dubé
François Grondin I was looking at the Flyers pamphlet, and I did not know what to look at. I was undecided. And I saw your thing and I thought, “It looks special.”
Alexa-Jeanne Dubé (laughs)
F.G. And me, well, I like special stuff… I really like Lars Von Trier. It gives you an idea?
So I read the description, but I was not convinced. At the same time, I thought it was different. I thought, “Let’s see what it is.” And I thought it was not too long, so if it’s bad, it will pass quickly.
A-J. D. Yeah, it’s 11 minutes.
F.G. Finally, I watch it. And there I am not sure of my feeling, You know.
A-J. D. Ok…
F.G. And that’s a good sign. It means that I was destabilized. In the end, I really liked it. It’s fucking special…
A-J. D. Yes, yes. I understand what you mean.
F.G. Actually, there are two parts I think. There is the interviewing side… If I rely on your document, they are true testimonies?
A-J. D. Yes.
F.G. And images that do not necessarily relate to what is said. And I would say, in fact, that they are a little at the opposite…
A-J. D. Yes. Sometimes yes.
F.G. I thought it was interesting. Like the old lady – and if I understood correctly, it’s your grandmother?
A-J. D. Yes.
F.G. Who tells a story that is super cute. They met when they were young…
A-J. D. They slept with no one else…
F.G. At the same time you have a kind of orgy. In fact, not a kind…
A-J. D. It’s one, yes. (Laughter)
F.G. And I was like… it’s really offbeat, you know.
In the first part, too, you have images that are, after all, quite romantic. You have lovers in a rowboat. I found the story interesting. It also comes a little against the rather romantic image. Then I found fun, in comparison with the second part, where you have the story of the romantic guy who has an opportunity of the type that never shows up – to sleep with two beautiful girls – who says no because he has a girlfriend and he is a “good” guy you know. And the next day, he gets dumped. It’s like the nightmare of any young man. And you have the image that is zero romantic, of two men in a parking lot in an oral sex session.
All of this meant that once I had digested the disorientation I experienced with your movie, I came to the conclusion that I really liked it.
A-J. D. (laughs) It’s like you have to get through, you knew.
F.G. Well, it is indeed different. I had never seen anything like this. You’ve managed something here, that’s clear.
Have you had feedbacks from Pleins Écrans? Did you have good feedback?
A-J. D. Really, really…
F.G. Because it remains a festival that is still for a large public. So I wondered if Scopique had been well received.
A-J. D. I can tell you, already, that I’m clearly not the movie that had the most views. There are some that had like 40 000 views. Me, it’s not that. But, after all, there are still people who wrote me and who liked the film. After, well, people who did not like it did not necessarily wrote to me. But there are some people I have high esteem for who have told me bravos.
Throughout my movie’s career, I really had good feedback too. I won like, some prizes you know.
F.G. Yes, I saw that you won at SPASME.
A-J. D. Yeah, I won the jury prize at SPASME. And I won two prizes in Spain… I won prizes too at Prends ça court! So that…
F.G. No, but Prends ça court!, it’s good.
A-J. D. Well, it’s fun, because it also allows me to – because it’s often prizes with partnerships – to put money in my next film that I will shoot in late February. Not so much money, but services I gained with Scopique.
All that to say that it surprised me anyway, because it is really a movie that I made without compromise, in a 100% independent way. When I had time. I really did what I wanted to do. I did not try to tell myself, “What would be good, or what would work? “
F.G. Clearly you made a movie “for yourself”.
A-J. D. Yes. That’s my universe. I think that’s what makes it so unique. It’s because I really just did what I wanted. It really is THAT my universe.
Even still, I think we feel it in the small videos I made in 2013 on the Plateforme rose. There is something in common for me in this. That speaks of intimacy, the colors… For me, there is something in there which is more my universe which is like more poetic-experimental.
F.G. I find it interesting, moreover, to see that it is a woman who made this film. I do not know if a man did the same thing, if it would be received the same way. It’s a questioning that I have as a guy.
A-J. D. But that’s a woman’s vision. Because, well, I’m a woman. But it’s a film that talks about intimacy first. More than sexuality. For me anyway.
F.G. I also think, but I have the impression, as a person who saw it, as a “voyeur” of the film, that there is a union between the two. That intimacy is linked to eroticism. And at the same time, there is a beautiful detachment, which you show, between the speeches and the images.
A-J. D. That’s because I wanted to offer a voyeuristic experience, hence the title, through the eyes, and through what we hear. I did not want to repeat what we saw. We understand the idea. After, do you let yourself be guided by what you hear? By what you see? I know there are some who hang on my grandmother’s story. While there are others who do not hear anything about my grandmother’s story and just say, “oh my god, what’s going on? “. It really depends. You take what you want.
And my editor, she edited a lot of documentaries, and I find that in her way of editing the film, and to have mounted the narrations, too, it was really a plus.
F.G. But you are between fiction and documentary. This is the kind of film that can hardly be classified.
A-J. D. I understand what you mean. And it would not really interest me to write intimacy texts. What I liked was the meeting too.
F.G. You needed that to be true?
A-J. D. Yes! I really did more than we hear. I recorded a lot. And then, with my editor, we said “it’ll be this one, this one…” There was just my grandmother that I knew I wanted. That was the last segment we shot too. The order of the film is the order in which it was done.
It was done in a year and a half. But you know, when we had time, no budget. The team was really me and Yan Clément. It was like “are you available today? ” ” Okay. “
F.G. That may have been the reason that allowed you to do what you wanted.
A-J. D. And Sophie too, you know. We were editing a segment, then I was coming back a few months later and we were doing another segment. It also allowed reflection. That’s what’s cool with the real stuff. The documentary aspect, precisely. It’s a living matter, and you take what you want. You did not choose everything in advance. You can be surprised also by this process.
F.G. The drone. Why? Was it in your head at the beginning to do that with a drone?
A-J. D. No. In fact, basically, this film, how it was born… There is one of my friends, Sylvianne Rivest-Beauséjour, an author, who wrote a play called Chaloupe, which was presented in 2018, at La Licorne, and she asked several directors to make a short video based on her piece. And she asked me. So that I read the piece, and I see it’s a story overseas, and there is an ocean that separates the two lovers and it’s called Chaloupe (rowboat) and it’s about sex. So that I say to myself, “Han, I’m just going to film people fucking in a boat. And it’s going to be everything”, you know. Ah, but how am I going to film? Ah well, I’ll take a drone…
And then I made the first segment. And I thought, “Wait … I think it’s going to be a movie and not just a video for a play.”And it gave me the idea to add narrations, and then “Oh I’m going to do a triptych”, here it is.
So the drone has imposed itself, technically.
F.G. The last scene, where is it filmed?
A-J. D. It is in an old asbestos mine in St-Rémi.
F.G. This is a spectacular landscape. A bit strange, but really spectacular.
And the people who play in your film are professional actors? Amateurs? A bit of both?
A-J. D. For the first two segments, I asked two couples of actors. I wanted us to feel that there was chemistry. And I did not want to have to guide the gestures. Especially since we were very far away. At the opposite, for the orgy, I did not want anyone in a relationship. I did not want to create “Yes but there, but me my boyfriend …”, no.
So I asked a few friends that I had – well, I still have them – that I know who are comfortable with that kind of experience. In addition, I made a call on Facebook. But there was a good chemistry, and it worked.
F.G. Indeed. And the images are beautiful. But without it becoming pornographic or exciting. It’s very well done too.
A-J. D. Thanks.
Oui mais non
F.G. With Oui mais non, we are actually completely elsewhere in terms of style.
It’s a beautiful movie. In the topics that interest you, I understand that there is the idea of intimate relationships. Tell me a little bit about it.
A-J. D. In fact, this film is my first film “film”. And I wanted to do something that looked more like what we see. It was a more traditional fiction, less experimental, not to fool myself because I did not have the tools to necessarily achieve the result that I would have liked with my crazier ideas. You understand?
F.G. That said, this is a good first film.
A-J. D. I just started by saying, “Look, I’m going to do something simple, a little story, a not too complicated fiction, just to see if 1. I can tell a story, and 2. I do I like it? “
And he still had good feedbacks.
It was pretty much the exercise. Then after that I thought that now I can do what I want, that is to say weird movies. (Laughter)
F.G. But it’s cool that you make weird movies, as you say, because in Quebec, we do not do a lot of experimental films.
You play in it. At first you wanted to play in it, and not in Scopique, or it just happened like that? Because the actors who pass behind the camera will often play in their films.
A-J. D. Basically, I did not want to be in it. Except that Karelle Tremblay, the other actress, made me understand “Do it otherwise I do not.” I think she wanted to do it with someone she was comfortable with.
So I said ok, I’ll do it. I think Karelle was not quite comfortable with nudity. There are scenes in the bath.
F.G. Is this a good way to put your actress at ease, to do it too.
A-J. D. No. I don’t think it changed anything for her.
But anyway, that’s why I did it. But it’s not something that interests me to play in my films. I really like being behind the camera.
F.G. As to separate things?
A-J. D. Yes, yes. Totally.
F.G. Now you are preparing another film?
A-J. D. Yes.
F.G. What is it?
A-J. D. Before explaining it to you, do you know the ASMR movement? ASMR videos on YouTube.
F.G. I don’t think so…
A-J. D. It’s a big movement, mainly on YouTube, but also on Instagram. It’s a kind of video where there is a girl who is going to whisper. They will talk to the camera, as a subjective camera, they will talk really low, but as the sound is really boosted, you will hear all the noises and all that stuff. Then they have false nails to make all kinds of sounds. They will brush their hair, and you hear all the shhhhrrr. It’s good to calm down. It’s something mesmerizing. There are all kinds. It’s been a long time since I find it interesting, and I think I have to do something with it.
Then there is Marjorie Armstrong, who is a young author who wrote L’arène, a web series. Then she wrote an erotic short story. Again on the theme of intimacy… And she offered me to adapt it to the cinema. I said ok.
It’s a bit of a classic story, of a couple that the guy says he cheated on his girlfriend, and then they make love. And at the end, we understand that the girl will leave him, let’s say. There I was like ok… Well the narrative, strictly speaking, is quite classic, but I found it interesting to use the “container” ASMR which is completely exploded, to tell something more factual.
The narration is done through a character who is an ASRM Youtuber. So it does not talk about that, but the narration is like that. And at the same time we see her live the story. It’s really out there, but it’ll be really cool!
F.G. It’s intriguing. At least…
A-J. D. We started doing studio tests for the sound. Because taking the sound – you want 3D sound – is really important, because a 3D sound in cinema is not done often. We are in the process of decoding how to reproduce the “headphone” effect. Because it’s made to be listened to in headphones. So finding how to reproduce that in theaters, let’s say.
F.G. In any case, I can’t wait to see that.
Alexa-Jeanne, thank you.
A-J. D. Thanks to you.