Tuesday, November 25th, was a special day for the members of the press and photographers. We were invited on the set of the new Raphaël Nadjari movie. This is my journey on the movie set of Izkor — welcome aboard!
1.15 pm: I enter the building where the movie Izkor is currently being shot. Members of the press, TV, and photographers are already there chatting or getting ready to take pictures. Some others are reviewing notes. I take a breath in this electric atmosphere, and introduce myself. “Hello my name is Jennifer. I’m Here for Montreal Rampage.” Just so you know, I look younger than my age, so people seem surprised at first.
1.30 pm: I walk down a long corridor, along with a few others, as we are directed toward the set. I see lights and monitors so I know we are getting close. I take a mental note of the lights being used, spot the person who is probably the first AD (Assistant to the Director), and of course say a mental “hello” to the crew working on the set. See, this is when it comes in handy to have worked on movie sets: you understand them better when you visit them. And believe me, it helps not to be in the way of someone running to fix something, or to know when to be quiet and not to move anymore. Being in the way is bad on a movie set. Trust me, I know. Especially when it is the last day of shooting, like today, as the crew and cast are all tired.
1.34 pm: End of the corridor, turn right into another, a big light blocks the view. Ouch, forgot that movie lights where so hot! Someone makes a sign for us to move forward, and I see Luc Picard and his young co-star surrounded by photographers. They pose in front of a white screen which makes the taking of photographs easier for us. Unfortunately, I am small and all the other journalists are insanely tall… gotta wait my turn I guess. A good samaritan lets me take his place, thanks, and anyway he can still shoot from behind me because I really DO NOT block his view. This is kind of funny. I shoot away.
1.40 pm: We are invited into a small room leading in the corridor, where a movie scene is about to be shot with Geraldine Pailhas (Hannah) and Eléonore Lagacé (Abigail). The room is very small as it is a theater dressing room. You know the ones with big light bulbs and mirrors? So artistic!
1.41 pm: Obviously, we cannot all fit inside at once, so some enter, and some wait. This height thing does not seem to work for me really well, because I do not make it into the room. The good thing is that I can still catch a glimpse of what is happening inside, and the movie-lover in me starts to feel the excitement. The room looks beautiful and both Geraldine Pailhas and her young co-star Eléonore Lagacé are there and ready to rehearse. At this point I really hope I will be in the next wave of journalists entering the room.
1.42 pm: I manage to put my coat and bag somewhere in the hallway, making me more free to move; this will help for the pictures that I’ll take once inside the room.
Finally, once rehearsal has been done, it is our turn. I am the last one to enter the room, and it is weird: weird to be in such a small space with so many journalists and photographers, weird for us to be all tucked-away in a corner of the room, packed like pickles in a jar, waiting for the rehearsal to begin. But of course, in order to not disturb the rehearsal we have to be in the only place possible that makes us invisible: the corner wall at the end of the room. To be honest, I don’t really care if I look like a pickle or not. I am in place and ready to take some shots! This is where being smaller than the giant Canadian journalists comes in handy. I get to be in the front row (smile). So yay for me on this one.
1.44 pm: As a young french woman (yes, 28 is indeed young, thank you), I am thrilled to be able to observe Geraldine Pailhas (one of the great actresses we have in France) in action in front of my eyes. The lighting is great, and time seems to stop as the co-stars take their places to rehearse the scene they will be shooting next. It is a small scene between Hannah (Pailhas), Abigail (Lagacé) and a man who is a music lover. I cannot really tell you more than this. The rehearsal goes well and, after doing it twice, it is time for us to leave the theater dressing room. But not without taking a few pictures.
1.50 pm: After we exit the room, it is time to let the actors work and we are directed to another place: a big theater with a stage, were we will be able to shoot other pictures and interview the actors.
1.56 pm: All on the stage to start taking pictures, we are now waiting for the cast. Miss Lagacé shows up and we start shooting her on this big stage. We shoot her in front of the empty seats where the audience would be in, or in front of the big piano on the stage. She seems funny and playful with the cameras, so I shoot like the others: with a smile on my face. It’s fun to see a relaxed young actress like that; she does not seem to mind that about fifty cameras are pointing at her at the same time. I guess she was born to be in front of them. Exactly like her co-star who is younger and a little shyer but who plays with lenses too. They decide to play music on the piano for us, which is a delight to hear and watch. It also helps us wait for the rest of the team to arrive.
2 pm: Natalie Choquette enters the stage to sing along with the piano performance of the two actors. Then she poses with her daughter in real life, Eléonore Lagacé, who plays Hannah’s (Geraldine Pailhas) daughter on screen. What a fun moment they offer us.
2.10 pm: Luc Picard along with other co-stars enters the stage. Time to shoot. I am getting use to it now.
2.13 pm: Geraldine Pailhas, Raphaël Nadjari (director) and the rest of the cast enter the stage. We are ready for group pictures. Some ask if they can take individual ones, but they all prefer to do a group picture. So a group picture it will be. Fun.
2.14 pm: I am smiling inside because of what Mrs. Pailhas just said. Apparently, not everyone here knows who she is. I am so surprised to see that most of them don’t know her name or what she does in the movie. She is, after all, the lead role along with Luc Picard, so it seems kind of strange. A photographer asks her who she is, and as a joke she answers her name along with this one-liner: “You haven’t been briefed properly it seems.” She does it with a small laugh, so we all know there is no diplomatic incident there. I think to myself that some people actually know who she is with an inner smile. She gracefully takes her place with the others with a smile which means that she definitely is a successful actress with a sense of humor, take that! and talent. This is a hell of a mixture, don’t you think?
2.16 pm: I really want to give justice to her talent (and others here) so I check my camera to see how the light is, and assess which angle is the best to shoot. At this point we are all on stage with our cameras ready, and the cast forms a line in front of us. We are all ready to capture the moment. Once again I find myself in the front, with a guy shooting upon my shoulder. Oh well, I do not mind because I can shoot as well. See? Sometimes being short can be awesome!
2.25 pm: Photocall is over. Let the round of interviews begin. Now it is the moment to wait, and wait and well… wait. I do not mind. It allows me to reflect exactly on who I want to interview and why. I decide to interview Mr. Nadjari of course and his two leads: Mr. Picard and Mrs. Pailhas.
2.26 pm: I have to wait my turn as some important journalists ready themselves to interview the cast first. I turn my head and see the man who was in the rehearsal before, sitting in one of the public chairs . I decide to go there and speak with him for a moment, in order to have a better understanding of what has been shot and when it is in the story line (they do not always shoot in continuity). I also want to know what his part in the movie is. We have a wonderful chat, turns out he owns a music studio and was invited to do a small part in the movie. A small part, yes, but one that serves the story. A very nice gentleman! I will keep his name off the record for now. I like to think of him as my secret informant on this set. So shhh… no names… I never interview and tell!
2.45 pm: I meet with Anne-Marie Gélinas (producer) and ask her a few questions about the script. I understood from the information I previously gathered that the movie was mostly about improvisation, and I wanted to know how much was written versus how much was improvised on the set. The answer is that everyone had a script with written words and scene intentions except the actors. The full script was used to fund the movie but the actors only received a script with the scene intentions. The rest comes from their talent to improvise, and of course, their discussions with the director Raphaël Nadjari. I have got to say I am definitely intrigued. How different it must be for actors to work that way. And why did the director chose this method instead of a script with words? I cannot wait to talk to both actors and to Mr. Nadjari to know. I thank Mrs. Gélinas and go back to the stage to wait. New ideas come into my head in the form of questions to ask to the actors and the director.
2.48 pm: Mr. Nadjari had to leave for the set and get ready to shoot, and Mrs. Pailhas as well. So I wait for Mr. Luc Picard. Wait… wait… wait… wait. Oh… wait.
3.20 pm: Only one journalist to go and then it’s my turn. We have to do a scrum though because it is getting late and Luc Picard will have to go back to the set. So it will be me along with another team of young journalists who will interview Luc Picard. He seems very nice, and kindly answers the few questions we have for him.
4 pm: I thank Luc Picard for the interview and his kindness, and it is time for me to leave the set. What a nice time I had here!
4.02 pm: Back in the corridor for the last time. I take a moment to put my coat back on and secure my camera, and because of this I leave a little later than the rest of the group. Lucky for me, because I catch a moment that I would not have caught otherwise: the cast and crew posing in front of the set photographer to have their team picture taken. It is a tradition to take a picture of the cast and crew on the last day of shooting. It is a sign that the movie is indeed a rap (or will be after the last hours of shooting). It was a nice moment to see, and everyone laughed and make jokes as it was taken. It seems to have been a happy set in Montreal!
4.10 pm: Back in the metro thinking about the article to write, and happy to have visited the set today. I cannot wait to see the pictures. Hopefully, so will you.
4.11: Entering the train… Thank you for traveling with me.
Jennifer’s interview with Luc Picard to come.