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Interview : Morgan Simon, director of American Football

On the sidelines of the Mobile Film Festival 2012 (see the charts), we had the opportunity to meet and exchange with Morgan Simon, winner of the 2011 edition and a student at the FEMIS. In the interview below, he reflects on his year 2011 amazing and its course director.

Hello Morgan, can you first introduce yourself ?

Morgan Simon, 26 years old. I grew up in the paris region in a residential suburb, and then land in a HOUSING project of the city, for today (on)to live in a student residence at the Porte de Clignancourt. No would say that growing up is a descent into the Underworld, in fact it is just the reality that a descent in your life. In parallel, the path has been the opposite. First I made the bio, and then the com’, for the final land at The FEMIS screenplay.

That is what you like in the direction ?

I entered The FEMIS to write, and to invent stories. I’ve discovered something just as exciting, working with the actors. I have experimented with the plan-sequence, it is a time in which I feel comfortable, where I feel that the actors and I can express ourselves. I finally understood quickly that if I wanted my scenario to be filmed, it was necessary that I do them. In France, you do not buy a scenario that will be realized by another, because the politics of the authors, or egos, do not admit of a true director that if he wrote his film (or co-written). I love to write, I love to work with actors, I love the image, so I told myself that I was going to do it all.

In 2011, you have won the Mobile Film Festival, can you come back on this experience ?

I realized A long sadness in my corner without thinking a second win anything, it was just an experiment with two actors. Elisabeth Chanay finally won the award for best actress, and we also had one of the best film. There was the key with 15, 000 euros for making a movie with a box of prod, Easy Tiger.

How did you proceed to write and shoot this film with a constraint length of a minute ?

A long sadness is my third one-minute film shot with a phone. These two constraints are terribly strong, but it is a valuable aid ; it is like an exercise in style. Every word, every plan, every line of dialogue must be justified, not the time for navel-gazing.

With my first, Blitz Krieg, I’ve learned to be concise. It was a scene of dredge enough cash in a coffee. The second, What’s up bastard? was looking to tell in this format also short the life of a character, a trader at Pigalle. Even if the plans were more sought after, more ” cinema “, I thought that these two films remained to the end, when even the skits.

I have tried to go beyond this with A long sadness by questioning my way of working. I wanted to remove all of the ego that there may be behind the writing and the making of a film, and I am cleared to the maximum behind the actors. I did not write the dialogues, we had just a canvas for the scenario. I am told they would improvise all the dialogue in rehearsal, and then adjust them for the shoot. Behind it there was the urge to try to create an emotion in a minute.

We can easily move to the side of this film because it is a thread very thin, it does almost nothing, only that I have not removed. A long sadness knows an end-of-course is truly beautiful since it has been selected to go before the feature films in the cinemas MK2 for a year. After I doesn’t turn me on, this is only a one-minute film shot with a mobile, in any case, this is encouraging. I especially afraid now to fall on my film at the cinema. ?

Tu had made other films before, are they visible on the Internet ?

American Football is my first movie where there is a production behind, where everyone is paid. I have previously directed a dozen short films, it’s going small stuff fans in DV not always watchable, the films produced at The FEMIS or self-produced. 16 mm, super 8, mobile phone, HD, there is a little bit of everything. I have a Vimeo page where some are gathered, but I can not put the most recent issues of rights.

Let’s go back to your win at the Mobile Film Festival, that is-what has this changed for you ?

This has allowed me to meet producers, a lot of experience. Everything has been speeded up. A few glances were shot towards me, I had a year to make a movie, and we had over 100, 000 euros for the final. I had it all on the shoulders but I told myself that this was not important, the only real pressure is the one that I started. No matter what there is around, I try to stay focused on what I want to do, to stay the course. The good producers help you achieve this. Otherwise you make a film for or other, and I don’t think you can make it worse.

Let’s talk about this crazy year you just lived, which resulted in the achievement of American Football ?

Before the 2011 edition of the festival, I had started to write a film about the rock scene alternative parisian (post-hardcore, screamo, indie, etc) that I frequent for years. When I met with the producers of Easy Tiger, I’ve submitted version 1 of this scenario, saying that if we ever didn’t get more than 15 000 euros earned thanks to the festival, I could write a movie more simple related to A long sadness. But they hung, the film gave them hunger, me too, so we went there. Followed several me to rewrite to achieve what the film was supposed to be. The scenario has been sent funding and surprisingly in less than 6 months we have secured the support of Canal+, CNC, région Rhône-Alpes and the association Beaumarchais-SACD. It has really been an exceptional situation, it ever happens like that normally. Tell that to The FEMIS they did not… It happened something about this movie, is this beginner’s luck ? We shot in Lyon for ten days in a great atmosphere. In short, I have no excuse.

What were your intentions with this film, what did you want to tell ?

American Football is a youth self-contradictory. Ultra tattoo and music fan hard, she bathed still in childhood. It straddles the mainstream and the underground, as well as between adolescence and the adult world. There is a superficiality that hides something deeper. There was the matter of fiction. The film tells the story of an amorous encounter in this environment. Zack, 24 years old, tattooed from head to toe, must find the wheat to tattoo the logo of his new group. He falls on a girl apparently friquée, what does it do ? American Football it was also a desire to marry american independent cinema and the cinema of the French author, to pass by the codes of the indie comedy US and teen movies to make a movie even more French than the other, but in the good sense of the term, just and sincere.

All the actors in this movie are they amateurs ? If yes, why it did not take professional actors ?

There are professional actors and amateurs. American Football is my sixth film with Nathan Willcocks, this is an actor who has a thousand caps and who has built his own course, atypical, and integrity. It was logical that it be part of the adventure ; he plays the role of a tattoo artist by the end of the race… For the main character, who was to be tattooed and able to shout into a microphone, it was unthinkable to take an actor, putting on fake tattoos, lip-sync, it would have been necessarily fake. When I started writing the film, I had modeled the physics of the hero, Julien Krug of the band Post Offense, I had never met him. A year after, he came to the casting itself, it was surprisingly comfortable, and very serious. When I tell you that something has happened on this film… The female character was asking a real energy, even if at the beginning I wanted a girl from ” the scene “, it has been difficult to find a girl who is comfortable and who can transmit that energy. I met Lilly-Flower during the casting, it’s the fact. The other actors are non-professionals because they are of this scene. Many people have found that the actors were so fair that one would have said that they were not pros, then that be just it is precisely the job of an actor pro… I took it as a compliment in any case, the life and the actors is the most important thing in a movie for me.

What are your future projects ?

I still have a few months to get to The FEMIS, a few months to finish my scenario of the end of studies. We will see if there are people interested.

If you had to give one piece of advice to all filmmakers and lovers, what is according to you the most important to succeed ?

Integrity. Humility. Sincerity. Personality. About.

Can you cite one of your favourite film-makers, and the reasons that will make you love his work ?

The biggest one is Kubrick. It is necessary therefore to see more small. I love Harmony Korine, in any case, these first two films, because they go far. Alan Clarke for his honesty and radicalism. Gus Van Sant for the love that he gives to his characters. There are also Cassavetes and Pialat because they chose what was most important to them, the actors. Finally, Jean Vigo, because I see in them an independent spirit, wit, a poetry that 80 years later is still as contemporary.

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