Fauve – 5 Questions for Film Director Jeremy Comte

Image from the short film 'Fauve'

Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at the 2019 Academy Awards.

1. Where did the idea for this story come from?

Growing up in the countryside, the inspiration for Fauve came from some childhood dreams I had at that time. They kept visiting me throughout all my life at different moments, where I could recall the emotion and clear scenery from them, but I didn’t mind them too much. About four years ago, I was running on a small muddy road under a light rain in the countryside and it all came back to me. I knew at this moment I had to make a film out of these memories, exploring childhood in a raw and authentic way taking place in an unpredictable nature.

2. How did you go about casting the two boys?

At first, my casting director Victor T.B and I started to cast young actors in Montreal, but they were mostly too proper for what we were looking for. Growing up in the countryside, I wanted kids that are used to playing in the outdoors, with a “rough around the edges” kind of energy. We reached out to many schools around the area where we were shooting and auditioned 50 boys. Felix and Alexandre had both a natural charisma and transparency that struck me. Their own personality and their suggestions on the project brought the script to another level and certainly to a more genuine one. I did a lot of rehearsals with the boys before shooting and I let them free to explore the locations. By observing the way they were interacting between each other and what they would naturally do on location, I rewrote the story. Because it was their first shoot, I ran through the shots with them before end, using my Iphone as a camera and telling them how it would happen with position and movement. They became used of the repetition of many takes during rehearsal. At the end, we mostly had a lot of fun and I could say I became a child for some moments.

3. How did you find the best location for this shoot?

I really wanted to find lyrical locations, that makes you feel like you are in a dream. I knew I had to find a quarry, but I wanted a very special one. I went on Google satellite, and search for a long time. We went on location, scouting all of the interesting ones. We were almost giving up and we decided to scout the last one and there, we found it. It was amazing because, beside it, there was those old abandoned trains. At first, in the script, the boys were playing with abandoned cars, but the trains brought it to another level. 

4. What are you hoping audiences take away from this film?

Generally, it is pretty similar from audience to audience. The direct emotional response that I see the most is people closing their eyes or hiding their face with their hands when the story unfolds. Some audiences will laugh for a longer time because they aren’t expecting that what is happening in front of their eyes is actually happening for real. A lot of people have their own interpretation of the themes and it very interesting to hear them out. Lots of people see them as kids and it reminds them of a specific moment where it could have gone too far. Some other people see a deep connection with the environmental crisis that is happening right now. Someone told me once that she saw in Fauve a parallel with the stolen land that was taken from the Native people. It varies I guess mostly on the interpretation but it is similar on an emotional level.

5. What attracts you most to the filmmaking process?

It’s so amazing to write and direct films because it makes me learn about myself so much more. I feel it makes me grow to become a better person by exploring my fears and dreams. I’m a hyper visual person, so I feel excited when I get to shoot the first images of something I’ve been dreaming of for so long. It’s a strong feeling to see a story unfold in the moment, in front of your eyes.

Watch Fauve below

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