Things I’ve Learned As a Moviemaker: Gaspar Noé

Is it easy being cinema’s reigning enfant terrible? No, but Gaspar Noé wears the title well.

This year, the Argentinian moviemaker, who lives and works in France, adds one more feature to his (im)modest oeuvre: I Stand Alone (1998), Irreversible (2002), Enter the Void (2009), alongside assorted shorts and segments in various compilations. The latest, an exploration of romantic sexual passion titled Love, contains Noé’s signature sex, substances and savagery, but less psychedelic, epileptic nihilism than the previous films. Still, it’s shot in voluptuous 3-D so there’s no lack of eye-popping visuals. Enter Noé’s mind yourself, with 30 lessons from his celebrated, uncompromising career. – MM Editors

Gaspar Noé (and Travis Bickle)

1. Trust yourself. Follow your instincts.

2. Unless the bank is closing your account, remember what Buñuel said: “Never do for money what you wouldn’t do for free… Work is for slaves.”

3. In order to get the movie started, pretend to everyone you meet that the film is going to be a commercial success, and that it will for sure be selected for official competition at Cannes.

4. The good producers are the ones who have produced good movies. Never trust the ones who simply made commercial successes.

5. Your movies are like babies who need love. You have to carry them and take care of them for at least one year after their birth. Being a director is like being a dad.

6. It takes a long time to find the ideal production partners and team. Once you’ve found them, it’s evident.

7. Don’t work with friends. But work with the most skilled, friendly people you can dream of.

8. Be friendly to absolutely everyone who hasn’t been unfriendly to you.

9. Fire immediately anybody in the crew who behaves disrespectfully to your work.

10. Show your crew that you work hard for the love of art.

11. As for the rest of the world, humans can be tricky. Don’t pay attention to any jealousies. Focus on your work, and on your heroes’ examples.

12. Lacking any affection or being madly in love can make you unstable and unfocused. While making the movie, try to be in as safe a relationship as possible.

13. Life is exciting—sometimes sweet, sometimes violent—but always sexual and unrated. So don’t pay attention to the rating of your film during production if you want to make a film that looks like real life.

14. People who are charismatic in life are usually also charismatic on screen. Don’t hesitate to ask people you meet at a party or on the streets to be in your film.

15. Always let the actors or non-actors improvise. But shoot as many different versions as needed to have the scene safely covered.

16. If the acting is bad in a scene, just cut it. The narrative will always survive the missing pieces.

Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock and in Love

Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock and Klara Kristin in Love

17. Creating new images is always far more rewarding than copying your idols. Try to achieve the films you dream of seeing, not the ones you’ve already seen.

18. Make your team and actors dream of a better cinema. And show them the work of your masters.

19. Push your crew and actors to their best limits. Interesting things will happen.

20. Drink alcohol when needed, but don’t get drunk.

21. If you can’t prevent yourself from doing drugs, at least share them.

22. Make your decisions at the very last moment. Your intuition is always correct; do not overthink it. Last-minute ideas are always the best.

23. Try to retain at least 10, but preferably 20 percent of time in the shooting schedule for retakes or last-moment new scenes.

24. First, try to get your favorite music in the film. The musicians or the record labels could end up being very friendly to you.

25. While shooting or editing, don’t listen to anybody besides the ones whose tastes you fully share.

26. Say “no” to the 100 people who want to stop by your editing room daily. Be especially careful with the actors and financers who never leave the room. Editing can be the most inventive moment of the whole process. Keep it sacred.

27. While shooting, or while promoting the film, don’t be pretentious. There will always be a few intelligent people around who know your real value.

28. Don’t pay attention to the reviews. The worst ones can also make you stronger.

29. Doing interviews can be annoyingly repetitive, but think of the distributors. If you don’t do it for the pleasure, at least do it for those who paid some money to buy your film.

30. Remember, movies also die. But if they’re really good, they might survive a little bit longer than your flesh and bones. MM

Love opened in theaters October 30, 2015, courtesy of Alchemy.

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