For our latest industry blog, we caught up with in-demand local director Alexandre Carrière. A graduate of the Vancouver Film School, Alexandre is based in the National Capital Region where the film and television industry keeps him busy; he recently finished directing two TV movies and is prepping to direct two more before the end of the year. Alexandre has also written and directed several short films including Jacob’s Wrath, a film that screened at the Not Short on Talent showcase during the Festival de Cannes in 2016.
First off, can you tell us in your words what a director does?
It’s like conducting the orchestra. The director decides what he or she is going to be putting emphasis on. It can be a single reaction, it can be a single object, and if need be it can also be a wide combination of things. Sometimes you want subtlety and thus focus on nothing but an actor’s reaction, sometimes you want the audience to feel exactly like one of the characters – so you focus on their environment, beautiful and magical (by painting the environment with sexy lights and using sexy lenses and mood-setting set design) or if the character is confused or stressed out, you want the audience to feel the same – by using a wider lens, filming handheld or a great number of other effective weapons). I think directing is about telling a story and deciding – imposing – how you want your audience to feel and what you want them to focus on.
Did you always want to be a director? How did you get started?
I always wanted to be a director. I started filming my own little movies when I was 7 years old and never stopped. Well… I stopped for one winter when I thought I was good enough to become a pro golfer, but 6 months in Florida was enough to realize it was a really bad idea, so I came back and went to film school and then I fell in love with making movies again.
What skills or training does a director need to be successful?
No skill, just a passion for movies and turning ideas into reality. Training however is important. And you can never stop. Film. Everything. All the time. With a camera. Without a camera. With your iphone. With your imagination. With your words. Tell stories. To your friends, your family and yourself. All the time.
Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a director?
That you can never be too prepared but that even if you have spent weeks planning your shoot, sometimes adjusting to a new reality and improvising and listening to other people’s ideas (even if they come up with them in seconds whereas you spent hours and even days thinking about them) is more effective and what the scene actually needs. Be prepared. Be humble. Adjust. Just shoot the best film you possibly can. Oh and know all the rules… this way you can break them once in a while.
Which directors have influenced you and your work?
There’s so many but if I had to choose five I would go with: Tarantino, Jeunet, Kubrick, Nolan and Altman. Special mention to Spielberg who was my first inspiration when I was young.
What advice would you give aspiring directors in the National Capital Region?
Shoot, shoot, shoot. Don’t wait for the right camera, the right moment, the right people. The right
moment is now. Just be wise. Tell a story with what you have.