I recently had the pleasure of meeting Vancouver-based filmmaker Danielle Cousineau who has been accepted to screen her short film Tell Me at the Short Film Corner during the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. I sat down with Danielle to ask her a few questions about her film, her experience so far in the industry and expectations leading up to Cannes next month. Here’s what the talented and articulate Cousineau had to say…
What’s the name of your film and what’s it about?
The film is titled ‘Tell Me’. It is the story of a young, troubled escort named Baby who recedes into her psyche when triggered by a memory of her abusive childhood. Lost in her mind, she finds herself caring for her alcoholic mother who blames her for the sudden departure of her ex-boyfriend 10 years prior. Torn between two opposing versions of the past, Baby will have to decide whose version of her future she is fated for.
How long have you been working in film and how did you get your start in the industry?
I’ve been writing screenplays for a couple of years now but I had to wait until I graduated university before I could move out west and actually pursue any solid work in film as a production designer or film director. I’m 26 and I’m just starting my career in the industry now, it feels a little late but I don’t regret getting my psych degree. I feel like it has only served to enrich me as a filmmaker.
What do you like most about developing short films vs. full-length features?
I enjoy both features and short films. I feel like they are completely different mediums of story telling. There is a simplicity in short film that allows the viewer to extract a certain understanding of what the story is really about. The time constraints don’t allow for unnecessary frills that disguise the narrative. It is my understanding that a short film can often lead to profound thought concerning a wide variety of issues that were quite possibly never even addressed in the film. That’s what film is about for me, the discussion or the learning that happens afterward.
If you could work with any director/screenwriter/actor on the planet, who would it be and why?
There are so many talents in this industry that I would be incredibly blessed to work with but I’d have to say that if given the opportunity to work with any director my first pick would be Cristian Mungiu. He writes and directs his own films and I feel like when I watch his work I’m seeing him and his entire creative process. There’s a minimalist approach to his film making and I believe it serves to highlight the raw humanity inherent in his work. He used to work as a teacher before he transitioned into film and I feel while his platform may have changed he is still teaching us with his storytelling.
What is your favorite short film?
What is your favorite full-length feature?
This one is a bit harder… I love so many films for different reasons. If I had to pick one though, I would have to say the film that has influenced me the most in terms of what kind of storyteller I wish to be someday is ‘4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days‘. It’s very difficult to watch but I would suggest everyone check it out at least once.
While in Cannes, who are you hoping to meet during the festival?
Honestly I’m just so happy to be attending the festival and showcasing with the Short Film Corner. I don’t want to go there with any huge expectations. I’d be perfectly happy meeting even one person that can inspire me to be a better person and filmmaker.
Have you picked out your dress/outfit for the premiere?
I have no idea what to wear! I was so excited when I found out I’d be attending the Gala Screening but then I realized that I have nothing in my wardrobe that would work for such an occasion… Looks like I’ll have to do some shopping while I’m over there!
What advice would you give to other aspiring filmmakers?
I don’t think I’m fit to give anyone else any advice. I’d say do what makes you happy and try to stay out of your own way. I’m often my own worst enemy so I need to check myself from time to time.
If you’d like to help sponsor Danielle’s journey to Cannes or have any questions about her film, click here.
Cannes Film Festival/Festival De Cannes May 12 – 23, 2010