Interview with director Quentin Lestienne

I have started as an electrician on feature films, then I directed my own shorts and still doing so.

Fictions : 2004 –Vision Off  (12min); 2009 Le sot de la mort 7min); 2010 A priceless crime (10 min); 2013 Alias Tito…(7 min); 2016 One chibani (17 min); Documentary : 2019 small fish (25 min)

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

When I made my first short and went to festivals with it. It was so magic that I decided to never stop making films to the end of my life.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Not at all, you can watch movies, listen to audio commentaries and try to work on movies to see in real how it works. And of course make your own films by yourself. The most important is to learn to communicate with people and their personality because you never make a film on y

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

I think it is harder to keep going because shorts are not a buiseness and to make a feature film  it can take years. I have to work on films of others to get a living and write and direct in parallel.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

I would say to always try to put something personal in every film/story because you will be the only one to be able to tell it and most of all, the only person to make it. That makes an original film, no doubt about it. I learned that in an acting class with Jack Garfein.

  • How do you find or generate ideas for documentaries or is it a different process for every project?

Small fish is my first documentary and I filmed my brother’s work because I admire him. Listening to Godard made the link with filmmaking possible. Because I admire lots of great filmmakers. But now I have other subjects I am developing.

  • Can you describe your approach to writing treatments?

Usually it comes with an idea, a concept or a character. Then comes the development that can take months or days it depends.

  • Do you ever use the camera yourself?

For documentary yes, but not for fiction. Documentary can be very long in terms of time and I have my own small camera. For fiction the work is more difficult because there are lots of material.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

If you watch films, the director is already spectator of his own film. The point is to step back enough to be able to judge what you are creating, because the audience always judges what they are watching.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Festivals are essential because a film needs to be seen by people, that is the main goal of making films, finding an audience for it. They are necessary because they give life to films. Without them, films are like orphans, never loved by anyone because no one sees them. They are easily forgotten. Festivals are also a way to encounter a public, other directors or anyone you can meet that loves films like you. So they are important for the future of our work and make hope for the next projects we want to give life to.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I think a director should know how to shoot in a classical way and then break the rules that he has integrated. But you can do that by being fresh and original from the very start.