Sometimes, something grabs your eye that you were totally unaware of. In this instance it was something as simple as a beautiful image posted by a friend of a friend; a captured moment so beautiful we wanted to know more about the photo’s origins.
This photo was posted by Sam Boullier, a student at the University of York who had just finished wrapping a short film he had made with some friends. We contacted Sam to get to the bottom of his project and the journey he took us on was quite magical.
Here we chat to Sam about this very personal project, what inspired him and some of his filmmaking secrets.
What is your background?
I’m currently in my final term of university here in York, and I’ve lived in Yorkshire my whole life. I’ve spent most of my time reading, writing, listening to music and taking photos. You can see how my upbringing has sparked my love of the landscape, which is very apparent in Colours.
How long have you been interested in this medium?
When I was four years old, having just seen Jurassic Park, I desperately wanted to be a paleontologist. My father bought a book on the making of the series. I asked him who the beardy man in glasses was, and my father explained what Steven Spielberg did. From then on I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker. I made my first film within a week or so, with a microscope camera, using torches and cardboard cutouts behind a tent to create a vast world of monsters in my bedroom. Since then, music and art and poetry has broadened my stylistic preferences, which you can see in my films, and my continued interest in the arts on a whole.
Please could you tell us a little more about the project?
Colours is told from three time periods, the sense of reality bleeding together perspectives, imaginations and memories. It deals with loss and the re-discovery of beauty in a tragic environment. The amount of times I’ve failed in trying to explain the film to people is embarrassing. It’s easier to explain the themes, as the film itself leaves an awful lot to the viewer’s interpretation.
What did you shoot on?
We actually used more cameras than we had cast and crew combined. We shot the main body of the film on a RED One, but also used the Canon 1DC and 7D, we used Super 8, mini-dv, VHS, mobile phones, anything we could get our hands on. It gives the film a collage-y feel, but also increases this sense of storytelling technique. It is a work of faded memory or childish imagination?
Is The Colours and the Kids something you are producing for your course or is it a separate collaboration?
Unfortunately, my course does not allow writers to direct their own script. I turned down the chance to direct, so that I could focus my time and energy on this far more personal film.
How did the shoot go?
The shoot was fantastic. We drove to the top of a valley in the North Yorkshire moors and were greeted with hail. But the moment the actresses got into costume and the camera was rolling, the clouds parted and the sun shone. The sky blessed us with a gorgeous pink sunrise on the final morning of shoot. The amount of beautiful coincidences that fell upon us as a team has been incredible.
Have you begun editing it together now?
I have begun editing. The film is in the early stages of completion. We have a few more shots, the final mixes of a few pieces of the soundtrack and some sound effects to record, but it’s almost there.
What has inspired the work?
About a month after my grandmother passed away, I woke up in the middle of the night (in a circus tent in rural Germany of all places) with the idea of a child at a funeral, unable to connect with the situation, distracted by the simple things, the weight of such a monumental moment in their life completely lost. I wrote the film on the notes section of my mobile for about fifteen minutes, and if I’m honest, not much has changed since then.
Who wrote the story?
I wrote, directed, produced and am editing the film.
Has this been an expression for you as a director?
It’s funny. In a sense the film is exactly what I wanted it to be. But what I wanted was a completely free film set in which everyone felt they had a voice, where everyone was able to express themselves frees. The camera crew, the actors and myself made every decision based on urges and hunches. We didn’t even have copies of the script on location. Instead I simply tried to enable magical moments to happen. I didn’t have exact images in my head, simply tone, and I feel I’ve been able to express, or rather, I’ve been able to capture what I was trying to capture. I guess I created a situation with the right cast and the right crew, so my expression as a director was in the pre-production rather than production of the piece. The film came together with trust and instinct, rather than me bossing everyone about to get what I wanted done.
When can we see the finished piece?
It should be finished in the next week or two. I’m hoping to have a “premiere”/party some time in late May, with the full cast and crew, bands playing etc. so that everyone involved or interested can come and see the film. I’ll make sure you know when it’s going down.More about Sam Boullier