After his Vancouver screening, we wanted to catch up Coban Beutelstetter, a previous Lift-Off award winner, to talk about his film Still Waters and his experiences in the film industry.
Interview by Bailey Schafer
Let’s start with where did you learn to make films? Tell me a little bit about your backstory.
Thing is, I knew I wanted to be a film director when I was 15. As soon as I got my diploma from high school I went to a university to do a licence for movies. From there I started to work as an editor for a production company, because they offered me the job as I was 21. I was an editor for this company, but I was also an assistant film director. So this is how I learned all the technical stuff, I would say. But I would say the best learning for me, was to watch films. Watching films is the best, and when you have the desire to create films, you try to analyze, see how it works, why did they do that? They’ve chosen this shot, you try to figure it out and to get into the mind of the film director, the ones that you like. Yeah I think that’s the best way to learn. You have to watch different kinds of films, from all over the world.
How did you hear about Lift-off Film Festival and what’s your experience with us in the past?
As I said, I am an editor, also. I worked on a short film The Way of Tea (Les fremissements du the), Directed by Marc Fouchard. So this film won a prize at Lift-off, And then it went to London for the Season awards, and it won again different prizes. We won Best Cinematography and Best Editing, that was for me. This is how I learned about them, so when I finished my short film I just sent it to them. And I’ve chosen Vancouver because I have friends here, so they are all really happy to see it and I really insisted that they wait to see it on a big screen and not on their laptops. *Laughs*
What inspired your film? What made you want to tell that story?
It’s a mix of different events, I would say. The original idea came from a basic chat I had with a friend of mine in Los Angeles, for a film festival actually, and I was trying to translate a french expression which is “il faut se méfier de l’eau qui dort”. Meaning still waters run deep. I just thought that Still Waters was a great title. So I just kept that on my mind, and then I started with the lake, and what could I write, around the lake? A year before I had lost my mom, so I was in the process of the loss of someone. I think it was like a mix of this and I really wanted to do a film that has like a thriller mood, but is not a thriller. A drama that has some entertainment with the thriller elements. Because I like when the genres are mixed together. I think it’s better to entertain the audience.
So that’s kind of how that dream sequence came about?
Yes! Exactly! And my biggest influence for this movie was Take Shelter from Jeff Nichols. I thought it was a masterpiece.
The movie was shot in a really awesome location, how did you find it?
Actually I got really lucky on this one because I was looking for places in the Alps, in France, the film is located in the Alps. I went out to dinner with friends and someone that I didn’t know said he had a family house over there. He showed me pictures of the place and gave me the keys for the location scouting. When I saw the house and the lake, I knew it was it. The location is beautiful. It’s called Lac du Bourget, it’s near Annecy which is a really famous city in France in the Alps for skiing. It was really nice from him to let me shoot at his place for one week, and for free.
So I couldn’t help but notice the credits for your film were probably the longest out of all the films we saw, how did you go about building that massive team?
I worked with a production company called BLACKBOX, . I knew this company before because I used to work with them as an editor for 4 years, because I’m also an editor. And I knew, if they wanted to make this film with me, that they would be able to provide me with as many people and as much equipment as I needed. It’s a short film, so it’s still a limited budget, but we tried to do as much as we could with the budget we had. I would have to thank Dominique Faviez (producer) and Jean-Yves Boulithe (CEO). Dominique really trusted me on this one, and she really tried to do her best to get everything I wanted her to. She knew when she read the script that it would be a really ambitious short film, because there are a lot of sequences in this for a short film. Even though it’s only one location, there are a lot of places to shoot. Inside, outside the house, on the lake etc. And even if we had a really difficult shooting I would say, the weather was against us for a week, the production tried everything and did a really great job on this one.
So you’d say the weather was a big challenge, was there any other big challenges that came up?
Um, yeah. *laughs* of course. The weather was big. We had rain, lightning… We had to change our shooting schedule every day, we could not use lights for the first two days because the dirt road was too wet and slippery for the trucks to go on the set. We also had some difficult human events on the set, so yeah some different things that were really intense for me. I think I barely slept for a week, so that was really difficult. And the last day of shooting started on Friday at 10 am and ended on Saturday at 6 am so, that was a really tough last day. But I learned a lot.
Well awesome job on the film, what’s next for you?
Many things, the editing of a feature, I’m gonna start that as soon as I go back to Paris. In mid-August. It’s actually Marc Fouchard’s first feature. For my work as a film director, I’m writing short films, documentaries and features. My next project will be a short film, I really want to do another short film. Totally different, the one I wrote is about four girls in Paris which is more of a comedy, but it’s still a drama. With stories of friendships and love, and how hard is it to keep a friendship when you disagree on really important subjects. Also you might know that Paris has suffered from terrorist attacks and stuff so it’s also related to that. So yeah it’s really in that mood. It’s a drama but it’s much more light than Still Waters which is really dark. That’s the film that I really want to do in the next year, but the first thing I’m going do is the editing of that feature. I just love to edit and make films in general.
I’m gonna end with one last question, this is gonna be a hard one. If you had to pick the most influential movie you’ve seen, what would it be?
All my life? Wow, that is really difficult. That is the worst question, because to choose one, you have to forget all the other ones. I would say that the film that really impressed me when I was a teenager, that is still an influence to me, would be The Shining, from Kubrick. I think it is the film that has that thriller thing, that I like. I don’t only like thrillers, I like all kinds of movies, but I think these are the kinds of movies that really catch me, and I think The Shining is a masterpiece. When I was a teenager and I watched it, I was just like “Wow”. I think it’s the first Kubrick movie I saw, I was like 13 or 14. So it’s definitely a film I would put on my top list. So, I’m not sure if that would be my number one, but it’s definitely one of my favorites.
Awesome! Well thank you very much for the interview!
For more from Still Waters and Coban you can visit his social media pages