Philippe André created a heartwarming film that keeps you glued to the screen from start to finish, not only did he write this wonderful piece, he directed it as well! His wonderful work is being recognised across the film industry through the highly regarded awards it has won and been nominated for. Including Best of Festival at Palm Springs Festival, Best Foreign Short and Best Festival Short at the Nevada City Film Festival. Delicate Gravity is also official selection at Portobello Film Festival and Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival.
We had the wonderful opportunity with catching up with Philippe and talking to him about his fantastic film ‘Delicate Gravity’.
Hi Philippe, thank you for taking some time out to talk to us! Can you start by telling us a bit about your Short film, Delicate Gravity?
It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
Delicate Gravity is a 30 minute film. It tells the story of Paul, a lonely guy who finds a message, on his mobile phone from a woman he does not know. It’s a message left by mistake. After hearing the message, he is concerned that she might commit suicide. The story leads to a brief encounter between Paul (Yvan Attal) and this woman, Claire (Anne Parillaud). It’s the story of two people who would otherwise have never met. It’s a kind of love story. More an ‘impossible’ love story.
You wrote and directed this award winning film. Can you tell us what inspired the story behind Delicate Gravity?
This story happened to me… almost. I found a message on my answer machine, of a woman who was sure she was talking to her lover. Of course, the message was different to the message Claire left in the film, but I used that as a starting point. I began to ask myself, ‘What if this woman was more desperate, asking for help without leaving any number?’, ‘Who could be the man receiving this message?’ and then from there, the story built up. I wanted to tell a simple story with complex characters; people who hide more than what they tell each other, but end up helping each other.
It’s a kind of love story. More an ‘impossible’ love story.
Did you anticipate the success your film would receive?
It’s hard to anticipate the success of a film. I did not expect the film to touch people the way it has. Even if the starting point is coincidental, I wanted everything else to be as realistic as possible and for that reason the audience connects a lot with the film. I wanted the audience to feel ‘Yes, it could happen to me’, and from the success it has received I think it worked pretty well.
Yvan Attal is stunning in the film and the fact we follow the story almost through his eyes, helps a lot. Through him, we discover Claire – portrayed wonderfully by Anne Parillaud – fragile and fascinating. Both of them are such wonderful actors. I’ve been very lucky to have them on board.
You have won multiple awards for Delicate Gravity, which is the biggest achievement for you?
Every award is such a gift, because you realise people have been touched by your film. You have shared a small moment of life with them. Even more so, when it’s a French film, with French dialogue and subtitles. Seeing it being awarded in major American festivals is amazing. Of course to get Best of the Festival Award at Palm Springs was such fantastic news and I’m really proud of it.
But I was so pleased already to direct this piece and have the opportunity to work with great actors, the whole experience was rewarding!
Seeing it being awarded in major American festivals is amazing.
Did you face any challenges when filming on set?
Every day is a new challenge when you make a short film. Because you never have enough time, enough money, enough equipment…
One challenge I’ve learnt from was to find the right balance between allowing actors to have a lot of freedom and at the same time getting the shots I wanted and envisioned. In term of composition and framing; for me the story was a lot about the right distance between the actors and the camera, about the way the actors move. That was crucial for me. They are foreigners who meet in a hotel room, so it was a lot about this kind of choreography between them. But you can’t say to very experienced actors ‘Stand here’, ‘go there’, ‘do this’, ‘don’t move’, Or they’ll make you realize you don’t need actors, you need puppets. They need to find their own space, their own body language too. So that was a thin line for me to play with. It was very exciting.
Do you have any funny stories to share?
Sure! I have a few, one being when we shot the scene in the subway, with Yvan Attal by himself. We did not have control of the train, only the authorization to have one coach empty for us. But it was impossible to stop the train. So we did a little rehearsal of what would be the plan and when we were ready, the whole crew jumped onto the train, Yvan went to sit in his position, extras in their marks and we shot the scene until the train stopped a couple of stations later and everybody jumped out. That was fun. In the film, it’s a very touching moment for Yvan. You can’t imagine how crazy it was around.
Another one was the opening scene, which is basically a 4 minutes static shot. We shot that the last day at 3 in the morning. Everybody was tired because it was the last day after 4 days of hard work. The crew did not know what Yvan would do exactly. That scene is about this lonely guy in this Vietnamese restaurant, who is a bit drunk and keeps leaving messages on his ex wife phone. At the end of the scene, he becomes angry and upset that he is just talking an answering machine, that he slams his glass on the table and cuts his hand. The shock was so big, so loud, the whole crew who were tired and perhaps even falling asleep suddenly jumped like crazy!
The shock was so big…. the whole crew jumped like crazy!
If you were to sum up your experience creating this film in 3 words, what would it be?
Work, work, work. Or fun, fun, fun. Both actually. Ok that’s 2 words. So I would add passion.
When and why did you decide you wanted to become a film writer/director?
I studied at a film school to study sound design and to make music for film. My main background was music, but I graduated with a film degree instead. Then I worked for the museum of the modern art in Paris, making documentaries about their exhibitions. Then short films. But everything started with music and music is still very important for me in the narrative process.
What’s your favourite inspirational quote and why?
‘Become who you are’. Friedrich Nietzsche.
Because you have to find what you want to say, which story you want to tell. And be ready to tell it again and again. You have to be honest with yourself. Because that’s the only way to touch the audience I think. But for that, you have to find your own topic, your own style, to become who you really are.
I also love this line by Jean Renoir ‘A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again’.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m writing a movie script at the moment. In collaboration with the writer I co wrote ‘Delicate Gravity’ with Daniel Hainey. It’s another love story. Or again an ‘impossible’ love story. It’s set up in Paris. The writing is financed already. So that’s all in good shape.
‘A director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again’
Electronic Press Kit: http://londonflairpr.com/delicategravity