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Producer Gilles Carle retraces the genesis of his first feature film, "La vie heureuse de Léopold Z (1965)," initially supposed to be a documentary on snow.
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The Rebirth of Filmmaking in Quebec [Gilles Carles]: [...] indeed, there was Léopold Z, a so-called documentary on snow
For me snow, my love of snow is really not something very unusual and you know
I love Montrealers, but I don't love snow, so snow and physical things without humans do not interest me.
Never in my life have I shot scenes without a human in them. Scenes alone are uninteresting.
Like in art, we've had scenery painters for 50 years, nude painters for 50 years yet a no one has ever painted a nude amid scenery.
It's a form of fragmentation and I don't find it interesting so in Léopold Z I took the cameras and crew and I created a scenario where there was lots of snow and people in the snow.
[journalist]: There were real people in it
[GC]: Yes, there were real people in it. And hem, I shot it in the east end of Montréal that I know well
And I started to look for characters that I had and I put them in it.
Méo and Léo there, it was an idea that dates back to I don't know when, but it was not exactly the same, although it was the same characters.
So I took those characters and made them come alive onscreen.
I shot for a half-hour. I was allowed a half-hour.
But the film could not be completed start-to-end because [laughter] because it wouldn't result in a movie.
In my mind, at the back of my mind, I wanted to produce a feature film.
But I said to myself that if I spend all my money. Then I'd be stuck and there would be nothing else to do but to continue it.
I presented it to the regional resources film manager.
I told him what I had done and I was voted another budget to continue shooting and it became Léopold Z, la vie heureuse de Léopold Z.
[j]: Your first feature film [GC]: my first feature film
[j]: Which was very successful
[GC]: With my dialogues, my story and me directing the actors and all that for the first time and hem,
[j]: It worked [GC]: it worked out very well, yes very well. It worked in movie clubs and it was, in fact, the first successful Canadian film
[j]: So you did it with the help of the NFB