Interview with Filmmaker Sébastien Duhem (STEP BY STEP)

STEP BY STEP was the winner of BEST LONG FORM SHORT FILM at the July 2022 FANTASY/SCI-FI Film Festival.

http://www.sebduhem.com/

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The lost of my grandfather. I grew up without a father so my grandfather became a father figure for me and I needed to say “thank you” to what we shared together and what made a part of me today, I needed to share all these emotions with other people by making a positive and colorful short movie about the birth of a new world.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

2 years to forge the idea, write it and find a producer and one year production, so approximately three years in total.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

It’s a simple story about surviving, in a suréaliste post apocalyptic world, an old cartographer meet a wild child and they share some simple moments against climat change, no dialogue, light drama, good feelings and nice music 😉

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Money is the sinews of war ! Finding the money to do a 25 minutes post-apocalyptic movie, ahaha, was the hardest.

Having ideas is easy, it’s the ability to find the way of making them real that’s hard.

Finding motivated and skilled people is not hard either, everybody wants to participate in the making of a movie.

The real challenge is to find money for a short movie that will not earn anything except applause if your lucky a movie that exist only for people to enjoy the story, the love of the craft, of movie making together and the “Director vision”.

We had 15 technicians who were volunteers during 10 days of shooting, it’s literally people who believe in you and your story, that can make your story real. I had a little bit of help from the public service here, thanks to the “french cultural exception” and from the crowdfunding community too, thanks again to them, and the rest from my own pocket.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was really moving to see that after three years of hard work people still saw and felt what I meant when I wrote it.

Especially in another country, on the other side of the planet, cinema is a universal language and that’s very important for me to have this intention of universalism in my story telling.

During this long time of searching/producing your story there’s a lot of compromise you have to do to make your film exist.

You don’t feel the same way about a story during three years, it evolves with you and your experience in life, you always doubt at some point that the source of your idea is still here.

This process always seems simple from the exterior, but telling a story with his own “word and vision” is sooooo hard, between what you want your story to be, what your story becomes when you throw it from your imagination to reality with no money and what the public will understand there can be a huge gap, especially when you don’t have any dialogue to avoid over interpretation.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Around 11 years old my mother and i just saw “Jurassic Park” at the cinema.

I was so under the choc that i couldn’t say anything because my brain was still processing what just happened.

My mother (concerned)
Are you okay, did you enjoy it ?

Seb
yes, it was unbelievable but that’s impossible !

My mother (laughing at loud)
Of course it’s possible, you just saw it

Seb
I mean, that was amazing but I don’t understand how they did it…I can’t do that for a living !

My mother
Of course you can, listen to me,
if you found a job that you love you can make everything you can think of.

Seb (quiet, internally)
Ok…so..i’m gonna become a filmmaker, i think.

30 years later still enjoying it like the first appearance of the diplodocus in Jurassic Park.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

It must be a tight fight between “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “The Neverending story” and “Star Wars : A new hope”, I watched them so much that i worned the VHS, i fixed them multiple times with scotch tape over the time.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

What a nice question ! I want to say you can help me by showing this last story but you already did that wonderfully !

I think the main thing that filmmakers really need to continue to make better movies are producers. I really need this kind of “duo”, of someone who can trust your ideas and found a way to make it real and to make everybody happy.

Someone you can trust, someone who trust your story, and can help you put your ideas in reality.

So if you know some producers that can be interested by a French filmmaker with idea, let me know 😉

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

I work with 4 platforms ( filmfreeway, short film depot, festhome, filmfestplatform) Filmfreeway is still the best for me, the interaction with people from festival is easy and well done. The film page is easy to create, the schedule is easy to read and there’s a lot of festivals here, one for every great Themes.

The main problem is the entry fee, Independant filmmaker want their movie to be projected to a live audience and there’s a lot of festival who ask 50$ for an online screening, no meeting with public or producer, no awards, no real impact on the life of the movie and i think that’s a shame.
That’s my third short movie in three years that I put on platforme, so i work a lot with festival organizers and i have to say that for now you’re the best in giving a chance to a modest film to live properly. The feed back audience is really great for us, this interview will be shared with other English spoken country who wants to know more about “ste by step”, thanks a gain for doing this right.

10. What is your favorite meal?

“Tomate farcie”

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes ! I’m directing a new historical movie for a museum in Belgium in parallele i work a lot on writing new project ! It will be a feature film or a serie, around the same universe as “Step by Step”, talking about the birth of a new world with weird people in it. If you want to see my previous movies (all subtitled in English) you can visit http://www.sebduhem.com.

Long Live Fantasy and Sci-Fi movies !

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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