6 questions with Mutants director, Alexandre Dostie at the half-way mark.
Sunday, September 17th, 2017
1Hi Alexandre! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, what was the initial seed that inspired you to make Mutants? Memories and stories I’ve been told when I was a teenager in rural Quebec, mostly. I heard about that guy who killed himself in a horrible way for that woman he was madly in love with As a kid, the idea that you could do such a thing out of love, struck me. At that time, I also understood that the heart as ways your fellow human being would think as fucked up... But for me, it wasn’t fucked up… It was pure love. It was a possibility. That’s what I wanted to explore with Mutants and the teenager point of view.
2I love films that deal with that transitional period where boys are first learning about sex and love and starting to move away from boyhood. Why did you choose to tell a story around characters this age? Because it’s such a crazy period of life. So many things happen at the same time and as a teenager, it is such an extreme period. When something bad happen, it’s always « the worst » thing. When you are sad, you want to die. When you feel alone, you think you’ll spend your whole life in solitude. When you love, you think it’s the most purest, grand, extraordinaire relationship the world as ever known! You have no perspective on life. You think you got it all figured out already. But life is always there to remind you as a teenager, you ain’t seen shit. Hahaha! It’s a period of painful delusion and incredible discoveries. I loved it! That’s what I wanted to make a film about it.
3I really liked the look of all of the Mutants. Each boy and girl really look like individuals and like they have their own personalities. How difficult was that to achieve? They were all street cast, walking around high school and baseball field. It was quite the gamble about that film I would say and a huge teamwork effort. But there was never any doubt in my mind. For Mutants to work, I had to shot that film back where I was from and the kids had to be born and raised in the rugged Beauce. There was no way around that. I wanted to ear the slang, the accent and the specific nuances of that region's language. For their performances to be truthful, I thought kids had to be able to relate to the tougher and a bit surreal background Mutants is referring to. I don't think I could have achieved that with pro acting kids from Montreal.
I think the key was that kids in the film were carrying naturally inside of themselves, the character I chose them to play. I knew my mutants by heart and I found their doppelganger in reality. For me that's what it was. So during the audition, apart from watching them act the role, I was very keen on asking them what were their views on love, puberty, friendship and all these themes that are part of the film. I asked them how they understood their character and how they were relating to it.
4You got great performances out of a group of child actors. What was your process like working with them and how were you able to capture such natural performances? So I'd say choosing the right kid for the right role was half the job. It was a good thing I wasn't mistaking cause we had NO time to rehearse. This was another leap of faith and I'm not sure I was fully conscious about it. One week before shooting, neither Jospeh who played Keven nor Tanya knew how to throw or catch a baseball! So they train with cousins and local baseball coach and it worked good enough for the camera, thank god! As for the acting, we did improv activities with them and Jeremy, the kid who played Marco, for one day. That's it. So what you see in the film are pretty natural and spontaneous performances.
But you know, the kids got along naturally. Joseph lead the whole thing with an incredible performance. The whole team loved them and we tried to keep the shoot as much fun it could be. Plus I had a great helper in Sophie Dupuis, the coach for my actor, who was careful to bring the kids in the mood of every scene before we shoot it. I think that was very precious too.
5What's the film or filmmaker that made you want to become a director? I’d say the Jackass TV Series. First time I saw something on a screen telling myself: « I can do this ». And I did… Bought a camera and for a summer, shot my friends doing stupid shit, putting stuff on fire… My first film ever was a 3 minute clip of people I knew flaming fart in a moving car on Metallica’s Fuel.
6What's next? Using the momentum Mutants generated to make another short. If everything work as plan we should be able to shoot in 2018! In the meantime, developing some feature idea. Keeping myself busy and out of trouble.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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