TIFF 2018 Interview: Maria Gracia Turgeon

“For years, the brilliance of female filmmakers has been overlooked or stifled. Let us give women from the past and now their due so that young filmmakers can easily name five female filmmakers when asked which filmmaker they admire.”

Alexandre Perreault in Fauve

FAUVE is a game of power between two friends. A game that begins with harmless fun and ends in disaster.

Left alone in rural Quebec, two boys, played by Felix Grenier and Alexandre Perreault, spend the day playing games of bravery. As the stakes unintentionally get higher and higher, nature takes over.

Set in an abandoned mine, Fauve’s stunning backdrop conceals a deadly secret that adds tension and heartbreak to a story seemingly about friendship. This short film has strong performances by these two newcomers only enhanced by the wonderful direction by Jérémy Comte.

We spoke with Fauve producer Maria Gracia Turgeon about her role in this beautiful short film.

Passionate about the power of cinematic storytelling, Maria Gracia Turgeon cofounded Midi La Nuit. She has produced numerous short films including Marc-Antoine Lemire’s PRE-DRINK (Best Canadian Short Film at TIFF 2017), How Tommy Lemenchick Became A Grade 7 Legend by Bastien Alexandre (Tribeca 2018), FAUVE by Jérémy Comte (Sundance Special Jury Award 2018, Telluride 2018, TIFF 2018). Recently she completed Brotherhood By Meryam Joobeur, premiering at TIFF 2018. She is currently developing several feature films with talented storytellers.

You can see Fauve at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, screening as part of Short Cuts Programme 07 on September 10th at 9:30PM and September 16th at 4:15PM. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.

I come from a small town called Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada where having a career in Cinema wasn’t really a possibility. All I knew is that I loved cinema and the art of storytelling. I also knew that I wanted to be facilitator for creating stories but it took me years to envision myself as a producer. I started my career at the Montreal based production company Item 7, headed by an amazing producer named Pierre Even. He taught me pretty much everything I know about production and he was and continues to be an inspiring and nurturing mentor. This past year I started my own company Midi La Nuit with another Montreal based producer named Annick Blanc. Through the company We’ve produced five short films and now developing feature projects.

Tell us about Fauve. How did you get involved with the project?

I’ve known and collaborated with the director Jeremy Comte for many years, he also grew up in my hometown Sherbrooke. I’ve known my fellow producer Evren Boisjoli for years and we collaborated on Jeremy’s first short film just after film school. We naturally re-teamed for Fauve since we share a close creative vision and are good friends.

The quicksand sequence is very tense and terrifying, how did you create the pit and make sure it was safe but realistic?

That was a really complicated scene to created! We really wanted it to look as realistic as possible! We dug a hole and reinforced it with a wooden construction so the actor’s head couldn’t sink below the surface and filled it with a mix of oatmeal, water and the actual soil from the mine. A FX director, a stunt coordinator and a medic supervised the whole scene. The more dangerous aspect of the setup was actually how cold the water was, even though we where shooting in July, the weather wasn’t great and we had to take the actor’s temperature after each take to be sure his temperature wasn’t dipping below a certain leve. In postproduction, we also used VFX to clean up all the footprints.

Felix Grenier and Alexandre Perreault in Fauve

The two young actors, Felix Grenier and Alexandre Perreault, are spectacular. How did you discover them and how did you prepare them for their first film?

That was quite the process! We started casting in Montreal, but we quickly realised that we wanted boys that where more authentically like our characters; more raw! We then reached out to more then 10 schools in the region where we were supposed to shoot for a wild casting session. We saw 55 boys that we then narrowed to 10, then 3 and finally to 2. Felix Grenier (Tyler) we knew as soon as we had the first interview with him that he was going to be our Tyler. We then had a few rehearsals with the boys on location, where they connected to Jeremy and understood their characters. Jeremy also did a lot of rewriting to adapt the characters to the personalities of the boys!

Can you tell us about some/all of the other amazing women who worked on this film?

There was a lot of amazing woman working on this film! My team was made of Julie Groleau, our production manager but is also an amazing producer, Kelina N Lauzier my coordinator and Gabriel Decevins my intern who was invaluable in making this film happen! I have to give a huge shout out to Catherine Kirouac, our first assistant director who knew how to be respected without being feared. I also could not have done this without Annick Blanc, my business partner, who wasn’t involved in Fauve, but took care of our other projects while I was 100% on Fauve! She is not only a kickass producer, but also an amazing director and screenwriter.

Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your filmmaking.

Well I would say I have a hard time picturing how a woman could not be feminist! Women in this industry have always had to fight for equality and recognition, to prove and prove again that we are as good as our male colleagues. For years, the brilliance of female filmmakers has been overlooked or stifled. Let us give women from the past and now their due so that young filmmakers can easily five name female filmmakers when asked which filmmaker they admire. I have always collaborated and will continue to collaborate with female filmmakers, facilitating and championing their work.

Who are your favourite women working in the film industry?

Jessica-Lee Gagné, who’s an amazing DOP from Montréal, now works internationally. In cinema being a woman is not always easy, but being a female DOP is even more so- all your crews are mostly men and the job is more physically demanding. All female DOPs, Rachel Morrison, Charlotte Bruus Christensen, and Reed Morano to name a few, have all my admiration.

Felix Grenier and Alexandre Perreault in Fauve

What’s the best advice about filmmaking you’ve ever received?

Trust your instinct (and always sign contracts!)

What are you working on now/next?

Apart from Fauve being at TIFF, I also have beautiful film titled Brotherhood, by writer/ director Meryam Joobeur, premiering at TIFF! We’ve just completed two other shorts titled The Colour of Your Lips by Annick Blanc and The Worm by Charles Grenier that are also in the beginning their festival run! Moving forward, I’m focusing on features! The next to come will be “Great North” by Annick Blanc, “Inherited Night” by Meryam Joobeur and “Echoue” written by Alberic Aurtenèche and directed by Hervé Ballairgeon.

What are your three favourite smells?

Lilac, rose and lily… I love flowers!!

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

Apart from trying to sleep a bit more… I have recently started sewing! It’s super creative and also quite relaxing since you really need to focus and not think of anything else. It gives me that satisfying immediate gratification within a few hours whereas making a film can take much longer!

Finally, recommend one #MUFFApproved film for our blog readers!

White Girl, Bande de filles (choosing only one was too hard!)


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