First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who
don't already know you?
Iím a writer-director based in Montreal, Canada. Iíve
written and directed a feature films (Dys-), as well as over a dozen short
films that have toured the international festival circuit, and a
documentary web series.
What got you into making movies
in the first place, and have you received any formal training on the
always been a storyteller. When I was a kid, I was a huge cinephile, I
loved reading books and writing stories. I was also into theatre acting,
which allowed me to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes aspect and of
all the work that goes into creating entertainment. I was utterly
fascinated by all this and started reading about films and how they were
one day it just clicked. All of these things came together and I realized
that making films would be the best way for me to indulge in all my
passions. So, when I was 16, I borrowed my dadís video camera and made a first short film just to try it out and I was
immediately hooked. Then, I went to film school and received a more formal
Going through your filmography, one can't help
but notice quite a few of your movies are of the horror variety. Is that a
genre at all dear to you, and why (not)?
always loved horror films and it is definitely a genre that is very dear
to me. I feel the genre offers endless storytelling possibilities. You can
really let your imagination go wild and take the audience on a crazy
journey, which would be harder to pull off within the more rigid structure
of other film genres. Horror is also a really rich genre when it comes to
dealing with complex subject matters or problematic issues. Thereís
nothing I love more than a good horror film with a message. All that being
said, I love all genres and I have experimented with a variety of styles,
but I always find myself drawn back to horror.
As far as I
know, your debut feature Dys- is about to be released - so what's
that one about?
is about a couple that is forced to barricade themselves in their
apartment due to a viral outbreak. The problem is that they were already
on the verge of breaking up, so being confined in this small space
together really pushes them over the edge. Tension rises and they both
descend into madness as they are forced to face their own demons and the
secrets they have kept from each other.
How did the project come into being in
the first place, and why did you choose exactly that story for your debut
at a point in my life where I was ready to make my first feature, so I
managed to scratch together a small modest budget for it. Given my limited
resources, I knew I had to build a story that was simple yet effective,
with minimal locations. A ďtwo people in a roomĒ type
of story, but with a twist. Around that time, I was fed up with the
ubiquitous zombie revival so, when someone jokingly suggested I make a
zombie movie, I replied that if ever I made one, it would have no zombies
in it. When I realized that maybe this could work for my first feature, I
brainstormed the idea from there!
What were your sources of inspiration when
dreaming up Dys-?
drew inspiration from a lot of different things! I was finishing my masterís
degree while I was writing Dys-, so I canít
help but feel itís a
very cerebral film and that its
content was subconsciously influenced by a lot of the readings I did about
horror movies and feminism. I was also at a point in my life where I was
questioning myself about my place in the world as a woman, societal
pressures, the difference between wanting to do something and needing to
do something, etc. I was also really into the work of Michael Haneke and
Lars Von Trier, and I watched a lot of films either about similar themes (Antichrist,
Possession) as well as stuff like Repulsion,
Rosemaryís Baby, Audition,
Shivers, etc. Somehow, this all came together and formed
What can you tell us about your
directorial approach to your story at hand?
directorial approach has two parts. First, I dissect the story in order to
prioritize the characterís
journey and really get things into place and find the right tone for
optimal emotional impact. The story is always the most important thing for
me and I want to make the audience feel something. Thatís why I work a lot with my actors prior to shooting to make sure we all have
the same vision of what the story is and what part their character plays
in it. Then, I spend as much time developing the best visual language to
suit the story. Style and aesthetics can really emphasize certain aspects
of the story or given meaning to specific moments, so I make sure every
element is there to complement, support and optimize the story I want to
about your key cast, and why exactly these people?
(Eva) [Shannon Lark
interview - click here] was the first person on board. I met her a few years prior and I
knew I wanted to work with her on a film project, I just didnít
know which one yet! When I started writing Dys-, I immediately thought of
her and wrote it with her in mind. She got involved very early in the
process and did a phenomenal job of making the character - which is a very
challenging role - come to life.
As for the
role of Sam, I was holding auditions and Alex Goldrich walked in. Heís a stage actor and we had previously crossed paths before, but we had yet
to work together. He read for two different roles, but I was instantly
floored when he read the role of Sam. He had just the right mix of
intensity and sensibility to portray both extremes of the character.
The role of
James was hands down the hardest one to cast. I lost count of how many
actors read for it and I had yet to find the right match (no one had given
me the type of performance I was looking for). We were getting ready to
begin pre-production when I reconnected with Dega Lazare who was an old
friend I met in film school - heís
also a writer/director - and who happened to be back in town. I told him
all about my project and where I was at, and he asked me if he could
He totally nailed the character and gave me exactly what I was looking
been wanting to work with Lynn Lowry ever since I met her during a film
festival a few years back, I just hadnít
found the right project yet. When I was casting for the small
but impactful role of
mom, I thought about her right away and how great it would be to have her
on board and finally have the chance to have a first working experience.
She accepted to be part of the project and was a pure delight to work
with! Her participation is also a little nod to Shivers
since Dys- also
takes place in an apartment building in Montreal.
can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
was a very quick and intense shoot due to the limited resources.
Everything was condensed, we had a minimal crew and limited space, so we
kept having to move the equipment around every day as whichever room we
were not currently shooting in was used either as storage space or for
makeup and catering. However, despite all this, the whole shoot went
smoothly and there was a sort of ďfamily vibeĒ to the cast and crew,
which was great!
$64 question of course, when and where will your movie be released onto
the general public?
should be released early next year in the US on DVD/VOD. I unfortunately
do not yet have a release date, but Iíll
for sure put all the info online as soon as I get it! Itís
been a long and complicated process to find a producer (the film came out
on the festival circuit in 2014), but Iím glad I finally found the right match! The title will change to
At The Door
(for marketing reasons), but the rest of the film will remain the same.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Dys-?
audience and critical reception has been good overall. Dys-
is very polarizing; itís
a love-it-or-hate-it film. Iím personally really proud that it elicit this kind of effect on people
because it means I did a good job of making audience feel something, even
if itís negative. Itís
not a feel good movie and there is some very bothersome content in it, so
of course some people are not gonna like it and itís totally fine. It has also won two public choice awards at different
festivals, so this tells me that, despite being a difficult film, it still
managed to find its audience and to reach the people that are into this
kind of entertainment.
future projects you'd like to share?
currently working on getting a few projects off the ground, so I
unfortunately do not have anything concrete to share just yet. I did
however contribute to two anthology projects which should be coming out
soon (Home Videos and Ted Bundy Had A Son). Iíll
also be contributing again to the Soska Sisters [Soska
Sisters interview - click here] annual blood drive PSA
which will come out on YouTube in February 2018.
What can you tell
us about your filmwork prior to Dys-?
Before Dys-, I was mostly making short films and I often found myself trying to
condense a big complex story into the short format. Dys- was very freeing
because I was able to take the time I needed to properly tell the story.
With my shorts, I also explored a variety of subgenres, tones, visual
aesthetic and storytelling approaches.
you describe yourself as a director?
think of myself as a storyteller and film is a way for me to share a bit
of myself and the crazy twisted stories I think of. In my approach, I see
myself as a bit of a craftwoman; I put a lot of care and attention to
details, whether itís through the actorsí performances,
the use of film language or the story itself, because I like offering
people that extra little reward when they take the time to really think
about the film. I also like to think I have my own singular style, whether
itís in the visual look of my films or the type of stories I tell. At least,
striving to achieve.
are so many, but the first ones that come to mind are: Mario Bava [Mario
Bava bio - click here], David
Cronenberg, David Lynch, Sion Sono, Alfred Hitchcock, William Castle and
Your favourite movies?
Itís really hard to narrow it down, but Iíll
go with: Santa Sangre, Lost Highway, Belle de Jour, La
Fille sur le Pont, Secretary, Fight Club, Cheap
Thrills, Les Yeux sans
Visage and The Shining.
and of course, films you really deplore?
donít know if itís
been making films for such a long time and I know how hard it is to get a
film made, but I tend to always find redeeming qualities to the films I
like. However, I really canít stand anything that is intentionally mean-spirited and/or that insults
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Facebook, whatever else?
About me and
my work: www.maudemichaud.com
films (you can also watch a lot of my shorts on the site):
Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
Thank you so much for interviewing me! :)