Interview with Filmmaker Hugo Remy (MISSING STRING)

MISSING STRING, 11min., Canada, Drama
Directed by Hugo Remy
Marie is a young woman who sees black strings coming out of people’s heads. She is the only one who sees them and she can guess people’s inner emotions by looking at their string. Everyone has a string, except her.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

This is not an autobiographical film of course but I identify a lot to Marie. I have often got this feeling that something is wrong or missing with me without being able to fully grasp what it is. So making this film had an obvious therapeutic purpose to me. I would say that it was my main drive. I just needed a concept to tell a story about this feeling and I found it with this idea of those strings which everyone has except for the main character.

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

It was a particularly long process because the film was made pretty much without any budget and everyone on it, including me, volunteered and wasn’t paid. So everyone, including myself, just couldn’t work full time on it constantly and as efficiently as we would want to. Also the project has been on hold for a long time after I wrote the script and there has been another very long pause after the shoot. So overall the project, from the idea to the finished product, was made on a period of a year and a half, but I consider it to be a film from 2022 because the longest part and the final export were on that year.

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

This is a difficult one…
First word would be “contemplative” and second word “flowing”. I would consider those two words to have been the key words during the process of making this film. To do something contemplative which brings the audience to a pensive state and re-creating a fluid flow of thoughts for the narration.

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

If I had to name only one it’s obviously the VFXs because it was done without any budget and without actually any concrete experience from neither me or the rest of the crew. The VFX director comes from animation but never made VFX for a live action film before, I never directed a film with VFX before, the main actress never had to act in front of things that are technically not there then to be added in post before either, the crew on set too wasn’t used to making shots with empty space which would be filled by VFX and same for the editors and music composers who mainly worked on the shots without the VFXs. It was a learning experience for everyone.

It basically came down to three things : preparation on everything which could be prepared, then more preparation and planning, then trial and error on what couldn’t be prepared in advance. But I foresaw this challenge and that’s why even before launching the pre-prod and recruiting anyone I drew a complete storyboard of the film with everything on it, every of my intentions regarding every aspect of the film. This storyboard kind of replaced the script to become the film’s “bible”, the point of reference for everything as to what the film should be and look like. Also the VFX director was hired early on and she took time to experiment before actually making the VFX for the final cut.

I insist on saying that I’m proud of everyone who worked on this film and took on this challenge, the whole crew (wether it during the shoot and, of course, in post), they were amazing and more so I’d say that they improved the film by adding things on top of and beyond my initial intentions.

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

I was thrilled and so happy when I saw the first reaction which was really positive but I’m kind of an anxious guy so I was expecting something less flattering, or even a bad reaction, right after. But the second one was positive and it made me feel good, then the next one was positive then the next one and so forth…
It feels good to see complete strangers receiving well your work, because they are “objective” it’s not like when it’s people you know and to whom you already pitched the film in advance.
It is heart warming, really.

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

I wouldn’t say that I alwasy wanted to make films but I would say that I was always passionnate about films that’s for sure. I always watched films over and over with passion as far as I can remember. There’s this well-known anecdote in my family : when I was little I could be left in front of a film without any surveillance for an entire afternoon because I wouldn’t move and just replay it when finished.
So the realization that I wanted to make films came pretty smoothly. As I grew up I started analyzing more and more what I watch, I thought of becoming a critic for a short time. Then, around 15-16 years old, when I started thinking seriously about what I want to do with my life, filmmaking was kind of obvious. I immediatly put myself to test by making a short film with my big brother, to see if it was really my thing.
The end result, the film in itself, was terrible ! But I just loved the process of making the film ! From there it was just a matter of getting better and finding my voice, but I knew that I wanted to make films.

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

I would love this question to be about films in plural because they are so many films that I watched and rewatched over and over since I’m a kid…
If I had to pick one, “Princess Monoke” by Miyazaki. I clearly remember my mom saying “this one again !?” when I pick it from the shelf and I still rewatch it again on a regular basis today.

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

I would say to find ways to encourage more interaction between the filmmakers and the audience or even between the selected filmmakers themselves (with filmmakers roundtables for instance or Q&As etc…). Mainly just because I love talking about films, doesn’t have to be about just my own, I mean that also as an audience member myself.

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

So far everything is fine, the site is well done and give me updates on a regular basis.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I can’t give a definitive answer to that because I love food in general too much. But I just discover tomyum soup recently and I absolutely love it.

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

I learned very early on that unlike, music, painting or any other “immiediate” art forms, it takes time to make films and not all planned projects reach the point of being made for a lot of different reasons. So I always make sure to have multiple projects on paper (scripts, dossiers, plans) at the same time in the hopes that some are actually done. I have multiple short fiction film scripts ready to get made that I plan to direct myself. I am also co-writing and planning other kinds of projects with filmmaker friends of mine. And I’m starting to write feature lengh scripts too. I can’t say much yet about any of those plans and I can’t say either yet which of those multiple “on paper” projects will get made first but it is in the works.

More concrete and immiediate, I recently shot a short film as co-director with a friend. I won’t say much about it except that it is my first time having to direct a film without being the writer myself, which is a great learning experience. The short film is currently in post-production.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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