Today we’re chatting with Gabriel Mirété, who won a bunch of TMFF awards at the last ceremony with his film Amber, including Best Film of the Month and Best Screenwriter of the month.
JL: Congratulation on your win, Gabriel! Or should I say – wins. You must be delighted!
Gabriel: Obviously, I’m very happy! Thank you so much. The aim for sending our work, “Amber” to festivals is to attract a lot of people, including those from other countries or culture. And even to tell myself that our French film has been watched by English people, and then get seduced by it.
JL: You’ve previously been an actor – how did you decide to make the move into directing?
Gabriel: This has come as a necessity. During the writing of my script, I did not necessarily think that I would realize it, I thought maybe that I would co-direct it with the director of my films collective LES PARASITES (you can see our films on our YouTube channel : https://www.youtube.com/
JL: Did you find it particularly challenging to get your directorial debut up and running?
Gabriel: Of course it’s a big job, there can be pressure, especially when it’s the first film. But no, I must say it was a real pleasure. I’ve been so lucky to work with this excellent team. Each of them did the work and proposed new creative details. This made the movie richer than I expected at the beginning. I would relive this experience with joy!
JL: What was the source of inspiration behind the subject of Amber?
Gabriel: Love! I wanted to portray the subject of Love and more precisely what we all knew about nostalgia: when we have experienced something strong, whether with a person, an animal or a milestone event and we do not want it to end. We can not move on and we have this kind of feeling that makes us terribly sad. And it’s completely humane. We are often told to go forward, to mourn, and that’s true! Do not bury yourself in there or do as Barnabé (the hero of my film) to kill himself with drugs in order to find his love in his dreams… but it’s also good to realize the chance we had to live these feelings and that it’s good to keep them in us. Like Barnabé, we also have the right to want to hang on to someone or something we love and miss.
JL: When I was in high school, at one point almost everybody was talking about lucid dreaming and trying it out. What is your experience with this subject?
Gabriel: I had a philosophy teacher who is a great researcher/scientist in lucid dreaming. He told me about it and advised me to read Stephen LaBerge’s book: «Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming». I even refer to it in my film. It was only during the writing of the « Amber » script that I got this book and found it fun to use lucid dreaming in my story and trap the viewer in it. It is certain that lucid dreaming is a very exciting subject as we have all done it unconsciously or consciously in our lives. It still happens to me. However, after reading the book it was not my intention to try to master lucid dreaming. It’s too much of a big job!
JL: Have you found inspiration in any well-known films when making Amber, both in terms of story and visuals?
Gabriel: No. Finally, of course, I’ve seen films about dreams like «Eternal Sunshine», «Inception», or Genet’s films (in relation to the light). So that had to influence my story and the image, but no, I did not try to extract things from other movies although people have told me that some of my film’s shots are reminiscent of some films like Claude Berri’s “Manon des Sources” (for landscapes and lights). The story, the pitch came naturally to my mind and it was later on reading Nicolas Gogol’s “The News of Petersburg”, including a short story about a man and the dreams that I wanted to see deepen my idea about this Barnabé stuck in dreams for love.
JL: Speaking of visuals – they were gorgeous! Where did you film the countryside/small town scenes?
Gabriel: As I said, I shot the film in my home region in Lozère, around my little village called Chanac. Lozere is in the Cévènnes. If you know the legend of the Beast of Gevaudan… it comes from us! It’s very beautiful, the team loved it! I love my region, and it makes me very happy to return whenever I want to take a break from Paris.
JL: How long did the shooting take? Any particular challenges that you’d like to tell us about?
Gabriel: The shooting lasted for 6 days in the last week of August. The biggest challenge was getting the whole team together because I wanted to shoot it in the summer since I was really satisfied of my script only from mid July. So I had very little time to get everyone together. We all volunteered on it so I was lucky that they believed in my project and that they were available. We did it with passion and I thank them very much. After filming, in post production, I was very well surrounded so everything went really well.
JL: You’ve also won our Screenwriter of the Month award – congratulations! Was this the first script that you wrote and became a film, or have you had others in the past?
Gabriel: I have already participated in the writing of several short film scripts that we shot with Les Parasites, my collective. But yes, it was my first all alone award and that I realized afterwards.
JL: Do you have any other projects you are currently working on, or ideas that are in the incubation stage?
Gabriel: I continue to shoot as an actor, I come back from a Motion Captur shoot for French Television (France 2) on the story of the construction of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. I will soon shoot our first series with Les Parasites, produced by Canal +. This is our big project. A series in the style of “Black Mirror” that you know well. I guess. And another drama show coming soon. As a director, for now, I only have some ideas I like, but nothing really to write. For the next film I will probably still shoot in Lozère and I will try this time to find money to produce it.
JL: Thanks so much for chatting with us, Gabriel! All the best for the future, and we hope to see you and your work again!
Gabriel: Thanks a lot!