Litte Laurence is looking for a way out of the authoritarian world where she lives, where the boundary between the real and the imaginary is blurry. She needs to figure out how to control her inner beast. Adapted from the collection of poems Était une bête of Laurence Ouellet Tremblay.
Interview with Writer/Director Élisabeth Desbiens
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I participated in a screenwriting contest and I won the SODEC/SARTEC prize. The script was really good so I was able to get the funds to direct the movie.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Once upon a Beast is the adaptation of a poem anthology about a little girl who wants to be free. It is the story of everyone.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
When I read the book, I felt touched by the battle of the little girl in the convent. Struggling in between the sisters as the supreme authority and her own voice inside of her telling her to run away to be free. In the movie, it was possible to give a real voice, a personality to that little voice inside of Laurence. It became a Beast.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
The script was written during the contest Cours écrire ton court organised by the SODEC in Montreal. I wanted to win and it was a real challenge because I was confronted to my colleagues in film here in Montreal. And they are really good. I worked hard with director and screenwriter Simon Lavoie, and he help me to find my style. He made me understand what kind of writer I am and that I have to trust myself. He gave me courage to push my writing where it belongs. And I won a prize for the script. And it was the first time I had recognition for my work as a screenwriter. After winning the prize, it was easy to find the funds to produce it. It is my first funded film and I learnt a lot while directing it. I recognize the good and the bad directions the movie has taken but I'm also very proud of the result.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Most of the people are feeling very touched by the story. Most of them feel close to the main character because of her interior battle against authority. and this battle is a continuous one for every civilized person. My stepdaughters felt a little bit afraid by the movie. They had so many questions at the end. It created curiosity. I don't think the subject is for kids. It has many levels. Because of the poem and the metaphors we see are in all the movie.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The big challenge when I finish a movie is to be able to understand every single part of it. I want to make sure I have questioned myself for all the kinds of feedback I can get. It's my way to prepare myself before releasing it to the public.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
The goal of making a movie is to be seen by the most people possible. Otherwise, why would we make them?
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Once upon a beast is made to tell a story and deliver a message. Like the prisoner
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Is there a real beast in the movie?
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
The next movie.
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Était une bête / Once upon a Beast
Length: 12 min.
Director: Elisabeth Desbiens
Producer: Films du Boulevard
Writer: Elisabeth Desbiens
About the writer, director and producer:
Élisabeth Desbiens is a Montreal based director. She studied dance and cinema. Her movies have screened in many festivals around the world including SAPPORO in Japan, MashROME in Italy, Cannes’ short film market and Clermont-Ferrand and in South Korea. She received the prestigious prize SODEC/ SARTEC for her screenplay Était une bête, adapted from a poem anthology by the author Laurance Ouellet Tremblay. She is presently preparing her next movie with Leitmotiv productions.
Key cast: Charlie Rouyère
Looking for: producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Release date: 2014
Where can I watch it in the next month?
Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal - Sunday July 31st 2016
Sorel-Tracy Arts Festival in Sorel - Saturday August 13th 2016
Women Makes Waves Festival in Taïwan - October 2016 2016