The man behind 8 Women, the enfant terrible of French cinema, François Ozon has earned a reputation for breaking conventions and taboos. The daring director told RT what triggered him to shoot his latest movie, In The House.
“This film is about inspiration. Where does inspiration come from? It’s true that it’s everywhere. People often ask me; how do you find your stories? The stories are around us. You should just open up your eyes, or open a magazine, look out the window and imagine things. I think that the need to tell a story is a way of escaping reality. It’s a way of escaping from daily routine. I think that everyone needs that. That’s the reason people go to the cinema and read books. Art enables us to escape into the imaginary world.”
Films by Ozon are recognizable by their suspense and tension. However, according to one of the most sophisticated French filmmakers, his primary objective is not to take the public by surprise.
“I don’t try to surprise filmgoers above all. I try to do what I want to do, to follow my desire. And my desire is not to surprise at all cost. I just try to have an impression for myself of doing something different, not to repeat myself, even if I know that I repeat myself from one film to another. But I want it to be exciting. When you make one or two films a year, you’ve got to have tons of energy. A film is a lot of work. If you don’t want to do something new and embark on the new territories, then why create anything at all.”
The author of Grand Illusion, Jean Renoir said that a director makes only one movie in his life. Then he breaks it into pieces and makes it again. Is it Ozon’s principle too?
“I’m more like Fassbinder who said that he was constructing a house with different rooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room, etc. And he said that when after he dies, others would judge what his house was like.”
His latest drama, In The House, which depicts an unusual pupil-teacher relationship, was awarded the top prize at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, as well as the Jury Prize for Best Screenplay.
“The house is a closed space where things happen. It’s true that I often need to limit the space in my films to find out what’s going on inside. This could be from my father who was a biologist and carried out experiments on animals in cages. He often put several animals in the cage and looked what would happen. Perhaps, making films is a bit like that for me too.”
How does a director, who studies the peculiarities of the human psyche in each of his films, usually work with actors?
“I prefer that we have relations based on trust between the actors I work with and myself. I don’t work in conflicts. I want things to happen smoothly, so we should trust each other. My role is to provoke the desire to look at my actors, to observe them. There are actors whom you want to look at, and those who you don’t feel like watching at all. So, I want others to want to look at my actors.”
Ozon says things always go wrong on set, but sometimes ‘good accidents’ happen.
“When you’re making a movie, you can’t prepare for everything. Once you’ve written a script and started shooting, nothing is like you’ve expected. Shooting is always full of problems. It’s raining when it was supposed to be sunny; the actor is not the one you wanted, so on and so forth. The job of a director is to adapt to these problems, or not to adapt and to say, I won’t shoot under these circumstances. But in this case, you’d have to be Kubrick or Spielberg. I don’t have the choice, so I shoot when I’m supposed to.”
Valeria Paikova, RT