You’ve magically captured that inner space of being totally absorbed in just mucking around by oneself. Was this your intention?
Our first intention was to capture the wonder of childhood boredom, when you are left on your own, doing nothing.
Something less and less kids are left to enjoy because of the invasion of screens in our life but also because parents feel guilty letting their kids be bored. It’s something so rare nowadays. Seeing a kid who’s bored. Which is sad. Because great things happen when you are not doing anything, when you are just mucking around by yourself and left on your own. Your mind and your imagination start to wander. And make wonderful things.
To quote the great Fred Rogers who worked on children shows for years and is a hero of mine:
“Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives”.
There’s a beauty in the film, the palette, the framing, the pacing and using 16mm – to what extent were the shots planned or did it begin as spontaneous filming of your son for the family record?
The look and feel does enhance the subject. Again, in a world that is more and more noisy, messy, and intense, here is a capsule of quietness, beauty, and wonder. It’s slow, nothing really happens, and it’s very contemplative. It’s very organic as well, and desperately simple. We had to keep it that way so a 16mm camera was the perfect gear to shoot, all in natural light.
But it did require us to organize a proper shoot. We’ve recced the location, and we knew exactly where to shoot, and most of the actions.
After that, making a film with a five year-old is always a bit tricky. You have to make it look like a game. Jules, the main act, was always very aware that he was filmed and what to do. The first thing we told him was to never look at the camera, which is not easy with a very noisy 16mm one, but he never did. He was always very receptive to our directions. Up until the temptation of jumping in the pool was too strong. It had to stay fun.
Did you film over a period of time or just a day and where?
We did shoot for three days in a magical house in Mallorca. We were three people only; Arthur (Couvat) who is filming and whom Jules loves to bits, Jules and myself.
It was a very special experience. We didn’t see anyone else for three days. We would film and play and eat. And then once we were done and had cabin fever, we would hop in the car and drive to the most secluded coves on the island.
We bonded so much, that Jules made three wristbands for each of us. We see him working on them on the tree in the film. When he gave them to us, we all nearly cried. He had it in his mind from the start. The film meant a lot to him as well.
Did you always have Joep Beving’s Sol and Luna in mind or was that track chosen later, like after the edit? How did the collaboration come about?
I’ve always been a huge fan of Joep. His music is very special. Simple but so sensitive. So I knew I wanted to edit the film with it.
The miracle was to pick up “Sol and Luna”… Out of all the fantastic music he wrote, what were the odds we’d edit the rushes to the exact track Joep was about to release a piano-only version?
So when he saw the first edit, he immediately thought it should become the official music promo for it.
I couldn’t believe it. His music, this track, is just perfect for the film. They are a perfect match.
It’s all serendipity.
Is it a reflection of Jules’ natural character?
It is very much his natural character.
The whole film is a tribute to him. He inspired it. It would not have happened without him. The way he climbs on trees, the way he’s absorbed in his things, the way he looks…. I was dying to capture the five year-old boy that he isn’t anymore. Put him on film forever.
Another way serendipity made its way in the film is the quote at the end of the film.
While making it, Sophie Ebrard (Jules’s mum) and I went to see an exhibition on Russian director Andrei Tarkovski at the EYE in Amsterdam.
At the end of The Sacrifice, when the camera slowly pans from the hero child up to a tree, Tarkovski wrote the most beautiful quote I’ve read:
“Ce film est dédié à mon fils Andrioucha avec mon espoir et ma confiance.”
It broke my heart, but it also resonated so much.
Just like Joep’s music was perfect for the film, this quote was exactly what the film is all about:
Hope, confidence, and the unconditional love of a dad for his son.
A film by Thierry Albert & Arthur Couvat
Music by Joep Beving
Grade by Matthieu Toulet