French filmmakers Lise Akoka and Romane Gueret met one another while helping to cast a larger project about adolescents, and looking for young people without any prior acting experience. It was there that the idea for “Chasse Royale” was sparked, and the two filmed a short that would go on to earn a Caesar nomination, along with an Illy prize for best short film at Cannes, before competing at this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, the global online showcase for French Films which bowed Friday.
“Chasse Royale,” was produced by Paris based Les Films Velvet, who also co-produced “Willy the 1st,” one of the features in competition at MFFF . International sales are being handled by L’Agence du Court Métrage.
The film focuses on a 13-year-old girl, Angélique, and how she and the people around her react when she gets cast in a film. It’s a story that closely mirrors the origins of the short itself. Her little brother is far more excited about it than she is, and can’t stop discussing what life will be like when she is famous, and they can go to Paris for the film’s premiere. Angélique plays it cool, however, as it’s not in her nature to get overly-excited about anything other than the volatile dynamics of her social life.
In private it’s another story. Angélique acclimates to the idea and finds herself growing more and more enthusiastic about the part, going as far as watching films and practicing her look in front of a mirror. Everything changes when she receives a phone call with some unwelcome news.
The film was shot using non-professional youth actors, and much of the script was taken directly from the stories and conversations shared between the filmmakers and the actors themselves.
Akoka and Gueret discussed their short film with Variety, working with a young cast and trends they have seen in other shorts while competing around the world.
You really got the best out of some very young actors. Can you talk about the casting process (the real life one), and did it influence the story at all?
Gueret: We met each other while working at a casting for a large project where we were looking for young adolescents who did not have any prior film experience. We had never worked together before that, and did not aim to make this film at the time. “Chasse Royale” is the product of the relationships and encounters that we made while at this casting.
Akoka: Our first step was to write about the adolescents who touched us the most. The story in “Chasse Royale” is similar to the experiences we had in our encounters. The reality of the situation therefore very much influenced our story.
Can you talk about writing a story as it is experienced by a teenager? What did you do to find her voice?
Lise: We were quite taken by some of the people we encountered during these castings. The age “gap” was apparent and observing this moment where everything is changing, where personalities are built and refined, fascinates us and seems eminently poetic and cinematographic. The story and the dialogue are borne from improvisation sessions with the teenagers.
Romane: We tried to write as close as possible to their words, and their expressions. Once the scene was written, we re-worked the texts and perfected the dialogues with the teens themselves, constantly evolving to reflect how they truly are.
What were your guiding principles when directing “Chasse Royal?”
Retain the reality, remain attentive to what was happening in the district of “Chasse Royale” and keep listening to the teenagers. We wanted to make a film that was sensitive and does not condemn any person.
Do you see yourself as part of a new generation of French filmmakers, and what are some characteristics you see that define that group?
We do not know if we form part of a new generation of French filmmakers. What is certain is that we are young and anxious to continue making films. We particularly enjoy social and natural cinema.
Do you see any trends in the shorts you have watched for this, or other festivals where you have participated?
We have had the chance to see many short films in festivals since we released “Chasse Royale. We have noticed a tendency to want to paint the society in which we live, fir example, in “Les Misérables” by Ladj Ly, “Africa” by Naïm Aït-Sidhoum, or “L’Age des Sirènes” by Héloïse Pelloquet.
What is next for you?
We are currently writing the script for our next project with the aim of continuing to develop the themes already presented in “Chasse Royale.”
Oliver Horjus contributed to this article.