"The cinema I wanna make involves a more close to real life feeling." Part 2.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 7 years ago
In the months since we last spoke to him, Patrick Boivin has been a busy man. His wild popularity on YouTube drew the attention of major recording artists and advertising agents, and he’s since directed commercials with Tony Hawk and music videos with Iggy Pop. Oh, and he had a kid – talk about productivity! In this follow-up to our 2008 interview, we discuss how Boivin has matured as an artist, two of his new films, and his exciting upcoming projects.
The last time we spoke, you said you were getting out of the stop-motion business. But since then you’ve released Street Fighter, Bboy Joker, Bruce Lee vs Iron Man and Condoms are Bad? Explain yourself, sir.
I was pretty convinced at the time. But then, as you noticed, I changed my mind. In fact, I’m split in two realities. The first one is that I wanna make movies, and the movies I dream of are mostly with actors. But the movie industry in Canada allows only a few directors to live off of directing movies, and I’m not one of them. Therefore, I need another job to make money. That’s my second reality. For years, I’ve been directing TV commercials. I gradually became very frustrated with all the pretentious structure of this “world”, and I wanted badly to be able to extricate myself from it. But it was good money and it gave me a lot of free time to do my personal creations. Then came YouTube, which led to me doing stop-motion. I quickly understood that online popularity could bring me international business.
That’s why I created Street Fighter for YouTube. I knew that it would be the first real video game created specifically for Youtube, and that idea really excited me. My goal was for it to do a million views in a month, and it made almost 3 million! So just to disprove some “beginner’s luck” theories, I quickly came up with Bboy Joker. And then, I began to have a lot of job offers from all around the world, which was nothing close to what I was hoping. With three weeks off, I gave birth to Iron Man vs Bruce Lee. This other hit really brought me amazing opportunities. (I’m now represented by Circle of Confusion). Then I was pissed off by what the Pope said about condoms, so I took a long weekend to puke out Condoms are bad?
Then I created two music videos in stop-motion: One for the French group Indochine and the other for Iggy Pop.
I had the opportunity to see two films that you promised would be on the same level as Radio, and I have to say, you definitely delivered on that promise! Let’s talk about Le Queloune first. What drew you to the zombie/horror genre?
Like most independent male movie makers, my first projects were about zombies and horror stuff. In a way, it’s an easy beat, and you don’t need that much of a story or good actors. Fifteen years later, I felt like revisiting that style, but with a different approach.
This is basically a zombie origin story, but what’s unique about this one is that it’s told entirely from the zombie’s perspective. What excited you about telling a story from a zombie’s POV?
When you think about it, the “zombie” is an excellent movie subject, yet there’s not much you can do with. You’re bound to two or three simple rules and that’s it. So with Le Queloune, I wanted to take a look at the possible feelings of the zombie, waking up to discover that the only thing he likes to put his teeth in is human flesh.
You've used a killer clown before, in The Death of Neoliberalism (aka Happy Meal). Why do you think clowns and horror mix so well?
As human beings, there are things that we learn to trust. There are things that are supposed to be funny, gentle and kind. If those things suddenly become evil, your brain doesn’t understand and tells you to get the hell away!
Happy Meal was just an exercise with a quite simple story. The icon of Ronald McDonald’s was an easy beat. Everybody knows him and he is supposed to be everyone’s friend. The fact that I have two films with clowns is a coincidence; I could try to give you a good reason but I would be lying.
As for Le Queloune, the idea wasn’t to do a horror movie. I first wrote the script about a normal guy waking up from the dead. The clown idea came later. In a way, I was creating a sarcastic comedy, and I thought a zombie clown to be funny.
There’s an amazing shot near the beginning of Le Queloune where some kids are making Coke explode by mixing it with Mentos, and the camera follows the soda as it drips down to Patrice’s grave. How did you pull that shot off?
It was easy, in fact. We built an 8 foot long “dirt track” that was standing straight at something like 75 degrees, and simply let the cola flow down. As for the camera getting in the ground, you have to know that the hole and the stone were not real, and were standing 2 feet over the ground. So when I made my camera move, I simply went down to film the “under set”. The “inner circle” was also just a box, and I shot with the appropriate move. Then, I combined all of them in post production.
Okay, let’s talk about the second film: This and Everything Else. Did you make a conscious decision to try something more naturalistic?
Absolutely. It is the kind of approach I’m interested in now. You see, I did a lot of “artificial” looking stuff in the past, and now when I look back at those movies, the big “style search” always bugs me. You talked about Radio earlier and it’s a good example. It’s full of transition FX and weird textures that do suit it well, but I can’t look at it without being distracted by those unnecessary moments. Having said that, I don’t know how I would do it differently now. I probably wouldn’t write the story the same way. When you’re involved in the writing of something you will direct, it dramatically affects the storytelling.
I will keep creating more “plastic” shorts, like music videos, but the cinema I wanna make involves a more close to real life feeling. Yet, it doesn’t stop me from putting some “colors” in it, if the story allows it.
If we speak about This and Everything Else, all the SFX treatment is part of the story that I wrote with this treatment in mind.
The movie starts out as a straightforward drama, but then moves into surreal and comedic territory when you introduce the two narrators. How do you avoid losing the audience when you shift gears like that, and did you have any films in mind to help guide you through that?
The movie I hade in mind was another one I made a couple of years ago.
A couple is sitting at a table in a restaurant. The girl is angry and screaming at him. While he listens to her, he draws on his napkin a little “him”, and a little “her”. Then as she keeps screaming, the drawing comes to life, and the little cartoon girl screams at the little cartoon guy. And then, the real guy draws a little chainsaw next to his alter ego, who takes it and kills his little cartoon girlfriend. At the same time, the real boyfriend gets splashed by blood coming from his girlfriend.
To answer the first part of the question: I figured it would work if it looked like long sequences where you get from the real world to the “fake” one. And it still works for me, so I guess it does for a couple of people.
The young couple and their group of friends are very realistic. Did you use experiences from real life in writing the screenplay?
Completely. That whole movie is based on real events I lived. Most of the time, we feel that little things in life aren’t worth telling, but I think we could build great exciting movies about little details. We all experience little things that most of us will never talk about. Here’s an example:
Throughout all my life, I occasionally noticed that I had strange translucent things crossing my sight – most of the time when I was looking at the sky during the day. I remember thinking about it for a while, trying to figure out if it was an unusual thing. But in all my 35 years, I never discussed the thing with anybody. Two month ago, I was watching an episode of Family Guy and they made a joke about this, calling those little things “floaters”. It was not a particularly funny gag, but I laughed my lungs out!
Talk about the sex scenes. How do you earn the actors' trust on set?
I personally think that if you want to make a good movie, you need to get everybody’s trust on the set, sex scene or not. I feel that movie making should be a team business, and not a dictatorship. You need a leader of course, and he better know where he’s going, but every other member of the team must feel that he is important in the process. When you’re able to do so, everybody is better at what he does, including the actors.
I love the big argument scene where the trashcan lid rolls into view. What’s the significance of the trashcan lid to you?
I don’t know how other movie makers get their ideas, but for me, it is most of the time a kind of “collage”.
When I was a kid, the trashcan lid disappeared one day. So my parents bought another trashcan, and they chained the lid so he wouldn’t escape. It’s been 20 years now and the lid is still prisoner. I never made a big deal out of it, but somehow the connections in my brain about that fact remained intact.
When I wrote that argument scene, I needed something so special that both lovers would automatically “drop their weapons”. Then came the idea of that lid, free like the wind, ending his 20 years’ escapade at that precisely good moment. “Who needs a shrink when you have free lids traveling the world?!”
Last fall you were in post-production on a 30-minute science-fiction film. How’s that coming along?
I just finished the film. From my point of view, it’s pretty good. This one will probably take the classic road, getting on the screens of a couple of festivals, and then in a few months, I’ll put it on FILMNET!
What’s the status of your feature projects, and of your career in general?
I’m actually doing pretty good! As a living, I do great stuff for big companies. I also do music videos for cool artists. As for movies, I’m working on several feature films. Both of them are in the process of being financed, which means I might have two big projects to work on next summer. I might also do a couple more animations, just for fun… but maybe not. I’m a new father now and I wanna make the most out of it!