Face to face with Philip Vallardo | The masterpieces and tragedies of television and cinema

The first TV series directed by Philip Vallardo, berry time, from a screenplay by Florence Longbury and Susie Bouchard, available at Elico Club. The story of a bereaved family on a farm welcoming migrant workers. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of television and cinema.

Posted at 8:00 AM

Mark Cassivi

Mark Cassivi

Mark Cassivi: I wanted to talk to you about TV series and movies. The limitations of shooting a series – it’s faster than in the cinema – and the advantages of being able to develop the plot and explore the characters further.

Philip Vallardo: I always say at the end of filming, “Okay! We’re ready to do the movie. It was the same at the end of filming the series. The feature on TV is that we can shoot the second season. I hope I can make use of it.”

MC: Is it a real advantage over cinema?

PF: No doubt. Then, in terms of production, you have to make sure that you don’t fall into complacency and repetition.

M: There are also drawbacks. The rhythm imposed by TV is another thing…

PF: There were knocks in the early 2000s on television. There were sometimes budgets of a million per episode. Twenty years later, when you have $700,000, that’s a big budget… Calculate! Press all the difference. There are people responsible for that. Craftsmen cannot refuse, because they want to work. But everyone suffers from this, even broadcasters. Nobody is able to stop this pressure that pushes us to produce faster, because some productions have been able to prove that you can get a large audience by turning 22 pages [de scénario] Daily. We reach the limits of what is possible and acceptable. This is not how we should work. We all fell into this gear and were told: “Yes, but that’s what happens on TV! »

MC: Are you seen as the movie guy who lands on TV?

PF: There is this, but I was able to draw a line because I have 20 years of experience. Xavier [Dolan, qui réalise aussi une série] He does this because he has the reputation he has. But this is not true for everyone. It’s a battle that I want to fight with others, to get back to the fun of working with actors.

Photo by Alain Roberge, press

Director Philip Vallardo

MC: Your idea in the beginning was to do work on migrant workers. Why didn’t you feel able to write this series yourself?

PF: I know how fragile we are when we write scripts, and for this series, I think I would have approached the topic in a very educational way. I would have found it difficult to free myself from the subject of migrant workers. Florence and Susie succeeded in it very quickly. Risks are roughly encoded in the setting and in the dialogues and behaviors. You can’t say it’s about migrant workers, even if he doesn’t deny at all how hard it is for them, how they are sometimes treated, how you can smell colonialism or the cotton plantations. It exists without support. And she writes, frankly, that I would have had a hard time mastering it. Or it would have taken me three years!

MC: Director that you are at odds with the screenwriter?

PF: There is definitely shortness of breath. There is pressure you put on yourself because you understand the inner logic of the scenario, which I never understood when I wrote The left half of the refrigeratorNot quite when I did it kongorama. I didn’t know what the catalyst or the dramatic focus was. These are items I now master very well. But who cares! You have to write what you want to write. The dramatic axis will set itself.

MC: Have you become more efficient as a screenwriter?

PF: It’s getting too technical, I guess. This does not mean that I am not able to enjoy moments of bliss. I adapt a lot now. It has become my method of creation.

MC: Is it possible in a system where organizations are constantly returning screenwriters to their desks?

PF: The answer to your question is no. But maybe I can get there, by forcing my vision a little more. Because the other big reason for my shortness of breath is the mandatory rewrite system. The system is unable to accommodate the number of requests. There is not enough money. Everyone must, at some point, pass their turn until the next deposit. Reworking the script isn’t a bad thing. But at some point, thanks to the rewrite, we start playing somewhere we shouldn’t. Nobody is responsible for that. The system is doing its best using the resources at its disposal. I would not like to be in the place of analysts. But I think it pushes our cinema towards a more narrative form. Those who write instinctively spend less, except for those who have built a niche for a long time, like Dennis Cote for example.

MC: Who doesn’t ask for a lot of money most of the time…

PF: If I arrive with a project, let’s say, more airy, I will be trusted based on my background and not on my script. And I’m not sure I’ll be trusted anyway… We have to trust the act of writing and the first copy more. Even if it’s not “reversible”, for all kinds of reasons, the primary is there.

MC: When you make American films, or co-produce with foreign countries, are there the same kind of restrictions?

PF: Yes, but it does not present itself in the same way. For the two films I made in the US, The good lie And chuck, I was not responsible for the script, although I have an opinion. The strength I had was to protect the scenes I loved.

When you direct in the United States, you are constantly involved in politics. If you want the equipment to leave you alone, reassure the producers about what you are going to do, by sending them feedback and notes. I remember being in Atlanta and emailing at 2:00 a.m. saying, ‘They’ll have time to accommodate it and get back to me the next day. “I immediately got a response from the producer! They’re crazy, Americans!” [Rires] This tempts me to a lesser degree.

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Philip Vallardo

MC: Where are you in your projects, maybe you will direct the second season of berry timeYou’re an adaptation of a Quebec novel that has yet to be confirmed…

PF: Look at the shelves now for a slightly gangster, a little nervous novel… [Rires] In fact, at the moment, the project that monopolizes me is giant [sa série documentaire sur la tragédie de Lac-Mégantic]. I didn’t know the definition rabbit hole. but I’m in fucking rabbit hole…

MC: Should you stop digging?

PF: I can’t, but I bury myself. And I don’t know where to stop. I have a lot of admiration for Alexia Burger, who made it a play [Les Harding]. She internalized that and chose to talk about guilt. My problem is that I want to say everything. I am in front of a wall of fear of people who are afraid to talk to me. And in front of a wall of silence from Transport Canada. No current or former minister wants to talk to me. They run away from me. They don’t fear me as much as CP and CN. It’s important to say all of this, but I have to get out of it! I’ve been working on this for three years. I have other projects. I love writing so much I had Florence Longbury’s clinic, maybe I can get back to writing! [Rires]

MC: From a TV series or a feature film?

PF: I wouldn’t say no to anything, because the format depends on the project. But I have more of a way of writing that goes with the feature film. I still love the idea of ​​a captive experience that lasts an hour and 45 or two. It’s my favorite shape. There is always some level of redundancy in the chain, even the best of them.

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