How important are short films, in your opinion?
Above all, they allow a young director to make all the mistakes that he mustn't make later on. The medium is an unusual one in that some subjects simply don't take to this format. In principle, for a short film to work, it should capture a tiny moment of a wider story, with originality. Mine were more like compressed feature films. I already felt the need to create a complex structure, with lots of different situations, in which surprises emerged. My short films gave me the opportunity to travel, to meet other directors, and to get feedback on my work from the public.
How do they prepare you for a first feature film?
Making a short film is a chance to get to grips with managing a set and a cast of actors, some of whom can be older than you... which is always a bit tricky at first! For me, it was at this point that my desire to shoot using longer takes really took hold. A director can't master the different ranges of shots in their first feature film if they haven't already managed it in a short one. The short film format also meant I didn't have to take a detour into the TV industry, and potentially lose my way.
What mistakes must be avoided in a first film?
We have a tendency to want to show that we're inventive and that we know how to do something just as well as others. But in cinema, it really all comes together when you manage to create something simple that reflects you in some way. What's important is to make something that is a bit personal, that expresses your personality. In my case, the first film I made was too complex, and my narrative influences were too evident. Your first feature film is your business card, and so much depends on it. It effectively establishes your position on the chessboard of world cinema.
Isn't the hardest thing about a career in film staying on top of your game?
Absolutely. It's easy to get noticed with your first film. Especially since most funding tends to be given to first films. When you start out, your ideas are clear, you know where you want to go and you have lots of ideas in mind. Where you go from there is much more complicated... But everything is possible in cinema. It all depends on your ability to reinvent yourself and to keep reinventing your work, quite significantly, without losing your style.