Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Like many others in his profession, French filmmaker Alexandre Laugier’s love for making his own movies began when he was a child. Since 2009, he has compiled an impressive list of directorial credits that include episodes of the TV series Les déguns. His first professional short film was the 2015 dramatic mystery, Observation. His first feature film, Love-Her, which he began writing in 2016 and shot last year in the south of France, is Alexandre’s proudest achievement, and what he considers the film that began his true career.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about yourself ? Where are you from?
Alexandre Laugier: I am 26 years old, I live in France, in Marseille. I’ve been passionate about cinema since I was little. I started in my bedroom with an old VHS camera at the age of ten. I shot my first amateur film in 2009, when I was fifteen. I have always been a fan of science fiction and imaginary worlds. In France it is difficult to make such films that’s why I also turned to the dramatic genre. With Love-Her, which is my first feature film, I try to tell a story that many people could relate to.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about filmmaking in your country and is filmmaking there different?
Alexandre Laugier: You know, in France there are a lot of comedy movies. What is complicated here is that it’s the television that finances the films here. So, doing other kinds of films, like horror or sci-fi, is very hard because you have to do what works for the French audience, and in view of the success of comedy movies here, France is now too much inclined to limit itself to it. However, we have so many talented artists, actors, actress, and technicians. American cinema inspires us and is an integral part of our film culture.
Andreea Boyer: Have you been working in the film industry mainly in your country or also somewhere else around the globe?
Alexandre Laugier: Well, I have just started. I have shot clips in Italy and Morocco, but I would like to export in the future. I wrote three sci-fi scripts that I would like to make in America or elsewhere. So for now, I’m trying to take my place in France, step by step. It’s a difficult job, I have to learn more every day, every year. I can say that, “I try.” I’m motivate and passionate, unstoppable!
Andreea Boyer: How did you start your career as a filmmaker and what has your motivation and inspiration been?
Alexandre Laugier: I started with my friends shooting short films, and with my little brother at the beginning. Steven Spielberg has been my greatest source of inspiration. I watched Jurassic Park every night when I got home from school. I studied filmmaking then. I always knew that I wanted to do that. I had the chance in 2016 to spend a few days with the director Luc Besson, for filmmaking training. I learned a lot of things from him. He told me; “It’s a difficult environment, never give up.” It boosted me even more. Now I really love Christopher Nolan’s works. He’s inspired me in script writing.
Andreea Boyer: When did you start with your career as a filmmaker and has filmmaking always been your main focus?
Alexandre Laugier: I really started in 2015 with my first professional short film Observation. I won many international awards with this short film, I wrote the feature film “Observation(s)” that I would love to do one day. Filmmaking has always been my main focus. I love so much telling stories, capturing the emotions of the actors, playing with the audience, and I love taking the camera. My true career begins now with Love-Her.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about the cast and story from your movie?
Alexandre Laugier: I love my cast so much. Jessica Errero (Emma), we were in kindergarten and elementary school together! She always danced, she was always very expressive, she was made for the stage and the screen. I made a comedy web-series in 2011, Glam World, where she already had the main female character. Then she did some small roles in movies, and she did two years of TV. A large community follows her. So when I offered her Emma’s role, she agreed immediately. She knows me, she knows my motivations, she wanted to leave TV. I had written the role for her, it had to be her. So when in July 2019 she won the “Queen Annual Supreme – Best Actress Feature” award at Queen Palm International Film Fest, I was the happiest man on earth.
I love the rest of the cast. Thibaud Vaneck, known in France for his recurring role in the TV series More Beautiful Life since 2005. He is really very nice. On the set, he always had humor and positive energy.
Sabrina Nouchi, who plays “Claire” in the film, is a very talented actress and director, I admire her a lot. I had the chance to work on her movies as a technician and having her in my first film is a great honor.
There is also Marine Duhamel. She plays Sarah, Emma’s best friend. She is so talented, she is a singer too and it is she who sings the song of the movie “I’d Like to Tell You” that I wrote and composed. Yes, I do a little music too.
As the title says, this film is about love. The play on words “love-her” is quite eloquent. You immediately understand what you are going to attend. The writing of the film started in May 2016, between my girlfriend Roxane and me. Then Romain Debons, a young scriptwriter, joined the project at the end of 2016 and was a part of the development of the screenplay as it is today, with lots of corrections and new ideas. With this film, I first target a young audience, an audience who resembles me and who will surely feel concerned. I think that the characters all have an element of truth, and that everyone could identify with them. All over the world for each population, love is the most important thing, something we all share. Every human being wonders about his or her reason for being, most of them do not want to be alone. There is this fear of the unknown, the end we are all afraid of. Everybody knows how we end. Death is waiting for us, after all, but must we go there alone and without love? What if LOVING was our reason for being? I want to start answering this with Love-Her.
Andreea Boyer: Where did you filmed your movie and why in that location?
Alexandre Laugier: The movie was filmed in Marseille, in the south of France, principally and a little part in the French Alps. I chose this location first for ease. I live here, so I know so many locations. I shot lots of sequences in my old high school! There is a special light here, beautiful landscapes, and the camera can capture all of that. This is why I don’t need lot of lights on set. I prefer to take the natural light of the sun to sublime my actors and my story. We were filming during three weeks in April and May of 2018.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your other films and work?
Alexandre Laugier: I just made a comedy series, Battle Bordel, with the participation of an actor who won the Cesar in 2019, that has been broadcast on Youtube since September. Love-Her took me almost three years of my life, so I’m working hard on my next film that will be a thriller/horror movie, The House of Mr. Morgan, and I can already announce (little scoop) that Jessica Errero will be in the main role again. I’m looking for a producer. I’d like to shoot it next year.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Alexandre Laugier: Love-Her was a wonderful experience. For the first time, I was making a real feature film with a real big crew. They were all motivated and passionate as much as me, but I think that my best experience was my brand new series, Battle Bordel, that I filmed in June 2019. We were a very small crew, with ten actors in a house. Best moments on a set! A real family. That’s what I like about this job. It is above all human experiences and very rewarding. On set, it’s always new. We can not expect what will happen. We always learn from others. On Love-Her I remember we were shooting in my old high school, it was very late and I planned 14 shots for the sequence. My first assistant comes to me and tells me that 14 shots was not possible to do. 50 extras were waiting. Finally, I made only one shot.
Andreea Boyer: What is your advice for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Alexandre Laugier: Learn, always learn. Make, always make. We are fortunate today to have wonderful tools at our disposal. You can make a movie with a phone, no matter your means. Only the content of the film counts. You want to make a movie? Do it. There is no magic formula. The cinema is very subjective, the audience will like it or not. Like any art, you have to try. It’s your vision. First learn the codes, then succeed in getting away from them.
Thank you, Mr. Laugier. We wish you continued success.
See more of Alexandre Laugier and his works at his IMDb Page.