22 avr. 2022ROXANNE PEGUET: WHEN A YOUNG FILMMAKER RECLAIMS HER COUNTRY
Roxanne Peguet is a young Luxembourgish filmmaker whose short film Nucléaire was part of this year’s film selection at the Luxembourg City Film Festival. She and her team also won the Jury Award for the Lost Weekend 48-hour Film Challenge.
Nucléaire is an audacious piece of visual storytelling, could you tell us more about the project?
Nucléaire is a love story between two young men. Although it’s not a personal story, I wanted to use the south of Luxembourg as a background and queerness as the main topic as both are very familiar to me. My goal was to portray Luxembourg the way I’ve always known it, not the cliché people have of fancy buildings and banks. Luxembourg as a country is so much more than that, it has real people with real stories. It also has a strong queer community and a multilingualism that deserves much more recognition, which is why it was very important for me to show how normal it is for young people to switch from one language to another in a single conversation. I think that’s something so unique about our country’s culture that needs to be cherished and appreciated on the big screen.
It was the first time I got a grant from the Film Fund, so I put a lot of pressure on myself and the team to deliver a great project in only four days on set. We didn’t have much equipment in terms of lighting, so my chief operator played a lot with existing sources of light and guided them as much as needed for the scenes. The limited equipment left a lot of room for creativity and flexibility which was really fun. I’m so happy that I got to do this project with my friends. I’ve known and worked with these people for years now and it feels like one big family that I am so proud and grateful to be part of.
I had a playlist while writing and shooting the movie. I asked two musician friends of mine to help me with the soundtrack. The first song is by Bartleby Delicate, the singer from the band Seed to Tree, who makes great music. Chaild and I also wrote a song together in my living room, a few weeks later we recorded it in the studio. He played the piano and I sang, you can hear it at the end of the movie!
How did your filmmaking journey start?
I tried different things before getting into filmmaking, I’ve been doing photography since I was around twelve, thirteen years old. I was in the Audiovisual section of my high school and that’s where I learned how to cut different types of visual projects such as reporting for a TV programme which was broadcasted an hour every week. I had so much freedom! I also did some theatre work – performing arts have always played a huge role in my life.
What made you choose this career path?
I really like music, photography as I mentioned before and comedy. To me, filmmaking is the perfect balance between these three things. I don’t think people realise how many exciting things you can do if you combine these different elements in a creative project like a movie. After my BTS in Film, I focused more on the film side of things to get some work experience. It takes a lot of time, practice and dedication and it can be tricky to earn a decent living, so I had to find other jobs to support myself, such as casting director, assistant director, script supervisor and stage director for example.
Did these different experiences give you a better understanding of the film industry?
Absolutely, when I was a stage director as I had to interact a lot with the directing crew. I had the opportunity to do these different roles on sets during my studies as well. I have worked with directors who’ve had trouble working with their film crew simply because they had never been in this situation before. They didn’t know how to communicate effectively with the different departments. Team building and being flexible are very important behind the scenes. Understanding the different departments comes with practice. I’m lucky enough to have been able to find people to work for and with. For example, I ended up collaborating on a project with one of my lecturers a while ago!
Now that you’re a filmmaker, how does it feel to lead a crew?
Like in any other industry there’s a hierarchy, of course, but there’s no reason to feel superior or inferior to anyone. Leading for me doesn’t mean being authoritarian, but rather creating a safe space in which every crew member feels comfortable enough to contribute as much as they can to the movie on a creative level. I’m just getting started you know, I still have so much to learn!
What are the main themes that you explore through your visual storytelling?
I have French and Portuguese origins and grew up watching a lot of French and Spanish movies. Very Mediterranean influences, so I am naturally drawn to family and friendship stories, stories about real and raw human connection. I’m a huge fan of Xavier Dolan for that reason too. I admire his journey as he is one of the few young and queer filmmakers that I can relate to, and his movies are incredible. Stories don’t always have to be intimate and personal, you might just feel drawn to certain stories and want to share with the rest of the world. When I direct music videos and ads, the ideas behind them are obviously not personal and that’s a good thing. Detachment is healthy, especially when you’re not only directing but also writing movies, as the process can be lengthy and emotional. It helps to distance yourself and give yourself a break, finding the right balance is crucial.
March has been a big month for you, with your short film being showcased at the Luxembourg City Film Festival and you winning a prize for the 48-hour Film Challenge, congratulations!
Thanks! Being part of the LuxFilmFest selection was a big win for me and my team, hopefully the first of many more to come! It was a big deal because everyone from the Luxembourgish film industry was there, from actors to producers and technicians. It was the first time we got the chance to show the movie to the general public and our peers.
What advice do you have for young filmmakers?
You can learn so much about filmmaking from the internet, from forums to social media platforms, free classes and tutorials on YouTube! The key is to surround yourself with the right people, genuine people. A common mistake for beginners is to try and work with anybody, which makes sense because you want to get experience and make a name for yourself, but the thing is not everyone will have your best interests at heart, even though they might take you under their wing and make you promises. Also, people tend to have high expectations because of social media. People only see the wins, but not all the hours of practice, the moments of doubt and frustration, the rejection letters. You can use an old camera and make a great movie. Use what you have now, don’t take yourself too seriously, be flexible and open minded and just keep practicing!