Vertigo Conversations


Clémence Marcadier

(director of SAP)


What was the teaching that you consider the most important one for your director's career?

To watch and make films. Not to stay theoretical.

Which are the directors who influenced you most? Do you have any advice to give to young filmmakers?

The first one has been Stanley Kubrick, like a lot of filmmakers. Then there were mostly films: Stalker, Lost Highway, Songs from the Second Floor, Dogville or more recently The Favourite, Call me by your name, Hereditary... I don't feel like giving advices as I consider I am still learning :) but nothing can replace making a movie to understand the difficulties it entails.

Which are the three directors who have influenced you most?

I can’t tell in which ways these three directors have influenced my work -maybe it’s just I love their films very much -: Martin Scorsese, Christoffer Boe and Lynne Ramsay.

Sape. When and how did you come up with your short movie's idea? How did you pursue your project?

The idea of the film first came when I visited the Buttes du Vauquois. There I realised there where thousands of soldiers buried under our feet, forever captive because of a war that made them dig their own graves. This absurdity made me want to write on this subject. 

How did you choose the actors and how did you manage the director's work with them?

I wrote the script thinking of Florian Colas. It's our third collaboration, and I really love working with him. He's an intuitive actor who commits himself completely. We don't work together in a technical way, we talk about feelings, experiences. We don't talk a lot, he suggests a direction that we adjust from one take to the other. As my scripts don't usually have a lot of dialogues, what counts is the intensity of the look in the eyes, the body language; and to achieve this the actor has to be in what he is doing at that moment, otherwise it is immediately clear that he is not present. 

A story of a one hundred year old wound continues to have a great impact on everyone who sees it, even though he or she hasn't lived during a war. Did you find a reference of the present that helped you to tell this story?

Well exactly, as we couldn't use our experiences to write, we quickly ask ourselves, my co-writer Thomas Mazingue and I, what could affect us. The fear of being trapped was the driving force; the fear of darkness, of being buried alive, those are feelings we can all relate too, that we can all have felt. There are few films that talk about mine warfare, but we watched several films in which the action is set in an enclosed space to study what had already been done and what could work. For example Buried, Das Boot, Descent, films I don't particularly like but that give good hints.

The scenography is incredibly realistic! We are really curious to know where and how you shot.

Thank you :) The first scene was shot at the Buttes du Vauquois, in a real tunnel that has been restored by the association of the same name. The rest of the film was shot in a set recreated in a studio thanks to a great set design team. The assistant director and I have worked on a detailed 3D storyboard in order to build the structure that would have to address numerous constraints: enough space for the travelling rails, removable walls to enable the team to set up the camera and the lights. For the explosions we needed different tunnel parts. 

One last question. Can you recall any interesting anecdote?

To stay an entire day in a tunnel can make one go mad…