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4th October 2013
The ghost of things past
Title of film: Goose - You Ways
Director: Thomas Rhazi
Production Company: Wanda Productions
Wanda director Thomas Rhazi tells us about the meanings and intrigues behind his mesmerizing film for Goose's track Your Ways

The relationship between the two leads is intriguing, especially when the old man rejects her and clearly loves him which shifted my perspective from thinking they were lovers to siblings but I’m still curious. Can you reveal more about the characters please?

She is a visiting nurse. The old man is her first and most recurrent patient, a strict and severe person with whom she has managed to create a bond with over the past year, but today something is different. She doesn’t know it yet but his son is arriving for the first time. He pushes her away to keep his dignity as a father intact. When she meets the boy in the room, she meets herself, a version of herself – the child who refuses to psychologically let the father die. It’s the climax. She has to decide: Do I let the father go and be reborn as an adult or do I die with him to keep the legend living?

She is an ethos not a pathos in dramaturgical terms. That’s why I think this film won’t necessarily reach your feelings or sensibility, that’s not the point. Her character is shaped to let the audience focus on her action and consequences, not on her state of mind. She is human enough to create empathy but she’s also monolithic so that everyone can project himself (Soko who plays the nurse really helped me to embody that cold stone, she’s so elegant and subtle in her interpretation).

The boy, Guillaume Verdier, a very instinctive brilliant actor, represents all the things she and the viewer should hate: humiliation, denial and fatalism.

The father, meanwhile, takes the shape of memory, specifically a buried violent past but this is not a film about physical and sexual abuse as a woman, who am I to tell that! No, it’s about a hero who needs to let the past swamp her (literally) and kill her own demons by any possible means.

Sometimes the film is quite literal with the lyrics and other times really metaphorical. How did the narrative evolve?

I think this project really reflects where I want to go now. It’s a short film and a promo at the same time, connected but not stepping on each other. The track really inspired me for the theme of a woman stepping into the dark, fighting her ghosts. My producer Celine helped me to focus all of my ideas and sharpen my script.

It’s beautifully shot and lit and I see you collaborated with your regular cinematographer Thomas Ozoux. How thoroughly did you plan the lighting, the framing and action before you began shooting?

Thomas is The One. He gives me the impression that he’s learning on the job but the result is always very coherent and that’s because he loves to experiment and take risks. For example he sent me a film shot on 16mm infra red a couple of months ago which led me to choose the black and white infra red look on the video.

But the infra is in fact very unstable. This was one of the first projects in the E.U. entirely made with a digital infra red body camera. As it was an unknown process we had a lot of complications on set. The whole movie was made without measuring light. Pointless. It was Thomas O’s eyes and instinct and entirely his choices.

I made storyboards with very precise visual references and technical cuts, and it was a long location scouting. On set we tried to improve on the boards, to change the rules and favour the story above everything.

What were the main challenges of the production and how did you resolve them?

The hardest part was shooting in many locations. Paris is quite hard to shoot if you want to break the notion of time and space, like in this ‘anticipation’ promo. To recreate a false but coherent visual world isn’t that easy here because Paris has that very recognisable romantic aspect. That’s why we chose to mix matte painting with natural locations.

We also had short but complex scenes to make: fire, water, vfx, long steadycam shots etc… but you resolve challenges when you trust your crew.

Credits
Director: Thomas Rhazi
Producer: Céline Roubaud
Production: Wanda Productions
DOP: Thomas Ozoux
Post-production: Production OneMore
Actors: Soko / Guillaume Verdier / Serge strip
Music written, composed, performed and arranged by GOOSE
GOOSE & produced by Paul Stacey
Mixed by D. Sardy
Mastered by Mike Marsh & Simon Davey at The Exchange, London