Nicolas received a writing grant for his next feature film.
What is your artistic background?
I first made my living as an actor, but I quickly realised that others did it much better than me. Nevertheless, the experience of theatre has been essential in my career. As far as films are concerned, I started to practice during my adolescence, on video to begin with, decorative films, without conviction, nothing to be proud of. This background is one of the great characteristics of directors of my generation, I believe. Thanks to video—or because of it—many of us started by filming head down, guided by the playful interest of the thing. It was through practice that I ended up theorising, dropping my own barriers and tackling my demons. Principally I have directed three short films: Le Bout des Doigtsin 2002, Pépins Noirsin 2004 and Mon Miroirin 2006. Then, a few plates of pasta later, my first feature film The Missing Piece.
How do you see your profession today?
I tell myself that you can’t be sure of being a director forever. It can't be assumed like that. It's a bit like a sports title that you try for every time. It's an interesting dimension, because while a cinematographer or a sound engineer practises the profession for which they were trained, the function of director is much less clear-cut. You only have to be at the heart of a project to become its director. The question of legitimacy does not necessarily arise. Proof of this are the many actors, writers, cartoonists or critics who move on to directing. If you have the power to unite the world around a project, if you know a little bit about each profession and if the desire is there, then there can be a film. This is my view of the profession, and it is far from pessimistic. But one is above all the director of a single film. Then another. And if that can continue, then it's wonderful.
How do you see yourself in five years' time? In 10 years?
It took me five years to make The Missing Piece. I hope that in the years to come, I will have been able to realise other projects that will make me as proud, and in a shorter period of time. I also hope—with childish naivety—that the conditions for making films will not become any tougher, for me as for other future directors. I would like to be able, in 10 years' time, to practise this profession with some spontaneity, even if I know, deep down, that nothing is ever decided in advance.
This interview was conducted in 2013
Photo credit: Anthony Anciaux