GORE IN THE STORE
Alexis Bruchon's first film THE WOMAN WITH THE LEOPARD SHOES get its Scottish premiere as part of the FrightFest strand in the Glasgow Film Festival on 5th March. Ahead of this screening we sat him down to discuss his background, his inspiration and where he got the Leopard shoes.
FRIGHTFEST: Your background is in illustration and graphic design. Was making a movie the next logical step as an artist?
ALEXIS BRUCHON: I wanted, from a very young age, to make a movie (and I did with friends when I was a teenager, a slasher called Ice Crime, a true masterpiece, believe me…). but drawing is direct, cost nothing and allows you to produce any images you want. So, I started with two graphic novels which were not published. I realised that I didn’t like making comic books very much and it was more of a way to express the frustration of being unable to make a film… because films are expensive and require a lot a people. But the good thing with comics is that I realised you can tell a story with very few elements… and no money! When I started on THE WOMAN WITH THE LEOPARD SHOES, I wrote it like a drawing. For the starting point, I took an idea from the beginning of Eyes Wide Shut. Cruise and Pollack are in the bathroom with the unconscious escort girl and the idea of something secret, dirty, during a fancy party fascinates me! So I built this story around this robber trapped in a room during a party. Drawing was highly important in the making of the film because I storyboarded everything with a lot of indications like light, moments, actions etc.
FRIGHTFEST: What was the inspiration for THE WOMAN IN THE LEOPARD SHOES?
ALEXIS BRUCHON: It has a very definite old Hollywood film noir vibe. First of all, my biggest fear was to make an homage or a pastiche. Of course there are many elements linked to the classic form of the genre like the expressionist lighting and the ambiance, yet it remains a contemporary film. Noir films are a huge inspiration for the movie, especially Robert Siodmak’s movies. The Killers (and Don Siegel’s remake!) is one of my favourites. I love very different noir films, like Murder My Sweet, Laura, Kiss Me Deadly, Road House (a very rare film from Negulesco),
I was also inspired by gothic cinema, especially the films from the Hammer and Amicus with Freddie Francis’ films, a true master! Mario Bava and Jacques Tourneur are the two other big influences, because they are masters of the off-screen. Giallo were a huge inspiration for the script because it is made of twists and manipulations.
FRIGHTFEST: Your leading man Paul Bruchon is obviously a relation. Which, and why choose him?
ALEXIS BRUCHON: Paul is my brother and he has never acted before! At the beginning, I planned to hire a real actor and I have to confess that the role was written for a woman at the beginning. One day, my brother just asked ‘’well it could be fun, just to see’’… I took my camera and started to shoot. He was exactly what I was looking for! He has a real presence and most of all a real elegance. It’s difficult to explain, because he’s my brother, but on the screen, when he moves you can feel his presence in the room.
All my family contributed to the film: Both my parents play a character, in fact each person of the crew plays a character! For example, I play Boyer but one day, for a scene, I was alone with Pauline Morel, my best friend and first assistant and I had to be behind the camera… so I dressed her in my suit and tie and here I am, in my underwear, yelling action to poor Pauline, who had to act like a forty years old upper class man!.
FRIGHTFEST: The story is told visually through silhouettes and shadows in super black-andwhite, you never show other people but their presence is always felt. All creative and budgetary choices?
ALEXIS BRUCHON: All these choices were made for the script but, yes also because of budgetary reasons. The film cost 3000 Euros with a big set that we had to build entirely so it was impossible to us to show anything else and I think (I hope) it’s for the best.
Black and white was logical for me because colour can distract the eye. Benjamin Cognet, our gaffer was helpful to achieve it and we built the entire room in order to control light.
FRIGHTFEST: Where did you film?
ALEXIS BRUCHON: All the shooting takes place in my parent’s home. I measured the living room and built, with Leopol Maurice, a big box. The shooting was a very happy time; the crew was composed of my friends and my parents made food!
FRIGHTFEST: You edited the movie too and also composed the evocative soundtrack. Had you done anything like this before and how big a learning curve was it?
ALEXIS BRUCHON: It was my first experience from writing to editing and it was a personal challenge. It will sound pretentious but I’m not a good pupil, I always hated school and I prefer to learn by myself. Of course it would be more efficient to employ an editor, a cinematographer, a sound designer, but I deeply wanted to learn how to make a movie from start to end. Obviously, the first day I was in front of my computer to edit the first scene I was a bit panicky because I didn’t know any techniques.
From the beginning I knew sound would be very important. Sound is a character in itself and I decided to work it as a visual element. Music was a big source of stress… I had never composed a single note and I planned to hire a friend of mine to make the soundtrack but, once again, he was not available so I started to listen to some soundtracks that I love and decided to write the music on the editing timeline, directly with the images. I recorded very different sounds with a microphone and stole some rhythmic, very brief moments from various soundtracks (there is a sample from Alien for example) and I edited it like rushes.
FRIGHTFEST: Where did you get the pair of leopard shoes? We want some!
ALEXIS BRUCHON: Gorgeous isn’t it? Well, it was difficult to find the right ones. Me and Pauline Morel (who chose most of the costumes of the film) are real shoes fashionista now! Ask us everything you want about leopard shoes! The pair you see were found on the internet so… you just have to click and find them!
FRIGHTFEST: Finally, what’s next?
ALEXIS BRUCHON: I’m about to shoot my second feature in March! A horror film made with the same circumstances as the first. The Woman with Leopard Shoes is the first film of a trilogy with the same concept: one character, one situation and almost no dialogues. The idea is to cover three genres, the film Noir with the first one, the horror film with this second and the paranoiac thriller with the third. The script and the storyboard are finished, we have the actors and the set is ready to be built! Me and my father have built a crane which permits the camera to go absolutely everywhere because tiny spaces will be very important for the story.
All I can say is that it’s a movie which began like a possession story then goes to a ghost story and finally to a fantastic thriller. I’m very excited to start shooting! I have also my first script, a story of kidnapping but I need more money to do it. It’s not an expensive film at all but impossible to make just on my own… but I will do it, one way or another!
THE WOMAN WITH LEOPARD SHOES is showing on demand for 72 hours from 4.00 pm 5th March, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow 2021 Digital event. The film is geo-locked to the UK and limited to 500 tickets, Tickets are priced £9.99. For more information: www.glasgowfilm.org/festival