Presenting Filmmaker Morgann Gicquel and his Film “Symphonie Melancolique”

January 7, 2016

“Merci. Despite being 56 votes away from the podium, preventing us to be a winner of the Kodak Super 8 Filmmaking Challenge, the first word that comes to mind, as I repeated it often in my numerous emails, is a simple thank you. Not that simple. In a world going mad, where art becomes more and more a necessity, what you did was wonderful. Voting each day, sharing, and most of all, watching this little experimental film that was just a style exercise and became a symbol of today: a muffled cry, silent, sometimes explosive, sometimes heartbreaking, calm and joyful at times. This cry, this shout, was carried on thanks to all of you, the 414 voters who have brought it to the gate of a podium dominated by networks not so social after all. The force of these 880 votes, which place us 4th (226 votes away from the 5th film), is precisely that they didn’t come from a network. Yes family and friends have voted. But it’s also the 100+ strangers I met in front of the French Cinémathèque film library or at the Grand Rex during 4 days of petitioning. It’s also the ten competing filmmakers who asked their voters to transfer their clicks to “Symphonie Mélancolique.” And that is a success higher than any film stock or Sundance screenings. I wanted to make a video to thank all of you, but the list of the 414 names might prove more difficult to watch than any experimental film. Nevertheless this is were I find the only way to properly thank you: making videos, films, shorts, features and everything in between. Keep fighting as I carry with me your efforts of this week and those of the crews across three countries and two continents that have helped me transform this exercise into a real movie. But in return, so your efforts were not in vain, I will ask you to keep going. Because a film is nothing without an audience. Maybe in ten days, a month, a year, you’ll have to vote again, share or maybe just watch the next one. Because without you there would be no cry, and the film industry would grow quiet.” ~Filmmaker Morgann Gicquel to The Audience Awards.

Symphonie Melancolique

Tell us about your film, Symphonie Mélancolique?

Symphonie Mélancolique is a silent film about noise. Through a multitude of images evoking sounds, from fireworks to waterfalls, it’s the story of a little girl’s cry. First it’s very chaotic then it’s more calm, even peaceful. Sometimes sad, other times joyful.

It’s an experimental movie that tries to create a sound, or maybe even a music, thanks to associations, motion and the rhythm of the editing.

What was your inspiration for the film?

One day my Director of Photography came to me and said he wanted to shoot on film. More specifically on Super 8.

We had directed 15 short-films together at the time and we needed to explore new mediums so I told him I could write a script if I had a directive. When I don’t have a story but the tools to tell it, I usually ask for a word and then my imagination just does the rest. He sent me two: ‘Melancholic’ and ‘Symphony’.

The whole project was born, I immediately knew such a symphony had to come from the images and not the sounds.

What were some of the ways that you promoted it in the challenge?

At first, like everybody else I’m sure, I warned friends, family and closed ones. I told them they would get an email per day to remind them of the vote and I designed 8 posters for all 8 days so they could get a little ‘gift’ each time. I don’t have Facebook so I asked my girlfriend to deal with that kind of communication and I took on Twitter.

When we got distanced I also emailed other people and asked my friends to share as much as they could. I thought it could be a good idea to take my film and show it to strangers and see if they would want to vote.

Symphonie Melancolique

So I went to the French Cinémathèque film library in Paris with an iPad connected to The Audience Awards page and a sign saying “Help a film for free”. I explained the situation to people, told them they could also vote for the other films in the competition so I didn’t feel like I was cheating. That way, the film got 100+ voters and a lot of them voted again the other days.

And even though we lost the podium with 56 votes, I still feel like I owe all these people something. And for me that something is to keep going, keep making movies so next time we’ll all win.

How did you get inspired to be a filmmaker?

When I was 9 my parents forbade me from seeing Jurassic Park on a school night. When I got to my room mumbling against this outraging oppression I thought to myself ‘I’ll be a director one day and no one will ever forbid me to watch my own movies. Even on a school night’. Three years later I finally saw Jurassic Park (in English, not dubbed, which is rare in France) and I was hooked.

I never stopped making films since then, were they with stop-motion dinosaurs, or little girl’s crying in experimental movies.

What is your favorite part of the short film form?

The ending. If you don’t have a good ending, you don’t have a good short.

So figuring out, watching, writing or, directing the ending of a short is always my favorite part. Check out this short, Boxed 3min. I made in a day with no other crew than myself, it can only work with the ending.

Who were the people that supported the making of this film?

You gotta hand it to Louis-Frédéric Schefer my DP, without him I would not have had the idea, nor the incredible shot of the business people walking while a woman decides to stop dead center of the frame (this was not staged and he decided to not listen to me when I yelled cut as I wasn’t seeing this).
I had a medium size crew but in order: Thomas Kamoun was an incredible grip and an incredible rock, Riwan Goasdoue a great friend, Kim Charpillat, Joséphine Méreuze, Maya Cloarec, Amélie Mikaelian, Margaux Caroff, and I’m forgetting a bunch.

We also had great actors who had to appear « real » especially Gaëlle Ménard (the break-up girl) and Gaël Sall (the boxer).

Also Kim Kardashian makes a surprise appearance in an experimental movie for the flash sequence.

What is your next project?

Projects, plural. I always have 5 projects at a time. I figure if one fails I still have four behind. At the moment two features:
A psychological thriller about a teenage New Yorker girl living in North Carolina being cyberbullied by her entire community because she wants to have an abortion.

A documentary about a world famous cartoonist and all his fans around the world. This one is rather top secret at the moment but being developed by three productions internationally for the past year now, we just need some film stock to begin a teaser.

A couple of shorts including an anticipation story which sees robots overtaking the film industry and a silent experimental film about a cry you might have heard of…

Symphonie Melancolique

What filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?

That is a very good question. All of them? Before being a filmmaker, I am an audience member. Every time I see something I like, something that works for me, it gets stuck and never leaves until I transform it for my own use.

But to list a few names: Spielberg (Duel, Amistad), Kubrick (Clockwork Orange), Haneke (71 fragments of a chronology of chance), Weir (Amadeus, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Amenabar (Tesis), Van Dormael (Mr. Nobody), Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs). But there are so many others that are completely unknown. All the super 8 movie I watched in the competition inspired me in one way or the other, as long as they took some risks.

Is there anything else that you would like included?

Words I live by: “Constraint is art’s freedom, it’s only because there is a frame that we can go around it.” and a very important quote that inspired a photography series of mine: “Dream for them.” which is visible here:

And of course a thank you to all who read along, because I never say it often enough.

Follow Morgann Gicquel’s career on The Audience Awards.

Watch Symphonie Melancolique.

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