Interview for GlamSalad

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Interview for GlamSalad

Gabriel Galand: Director, Cinematographer & Producer

By GlamSalad.

Movies have the power to transport an audience into new, fantastical worlds. Gabriel Galand is one individual who creates them for a living.

There are few vocations which seem as exciting as that of a filmmaker. Images of red carpet premieres and movie sets with craft services (think lots of exquisite snacks) come to mind. Sure, it is a thrilling concept, but turning a film idea into reality requires incredible effort, constant editing and long, arduous hours on set.

In order to find out more about the life of a moviemaker, we caught up with Gabriel Galand, an independent film director, cinematographer and producer. His award-winning films include Horla,  Above the Mistand Resilience. He has also produced commercials for clients such as Chevrolet, Exxon and LinkedIn.

Knowing a thing or two about resilience and bouncing back after setbacks, Gabriel shared his advice for aspiring filmmakers. “You should not give up on your projects until you find the right audience for it,” he insists. “Someone, somewhere on the planet, will like your film, it’s almost guaranteed.” He also thinks it’s absolutely necessary to “watch lots of films and television.” Keep reading to discover more!

1. What is your background?

I was born and raised in Paris, France and also spent some time living in Sydney, Australia and London, England during my childhood.

The culture shock I went through when I discovered the English world – and the reverse culture shock I had when I returned to France – broadened my horizons and expanded my mind. I was no longer a mere product of French history; it was so refreshing to be just a world citizen. As an adult, I have been keeping my passion for traveling alive – [by] living in Seoul, South Korea for a year and half and now residing in Vancouver, Canada.

Portrait of a cinematographer

2. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self?

I had a sheltered childhood. I always tried hard to impress my peers and teachers, which led to many disappointments. While it was not a positive experience, overcoming it made me the person I am today. Hard times help mold your personality and define what it is you would like to be or to do on this planet. If I had to go back in time, I would try to embrace the world sooner and not be so fixated on the past. Granted, we did not live through the invention of cinema, or electricity or even planes, but with the rise of the internet we are at the dawn of a new industrial revolution, perhaps an even bigger one. We should seize its opportunities!

3. What sparked your interest in producing and filmmaking?

To be honest, I was not always a cinephile. I first became keen on cinema when I was on a one-year exchange program in Sydney in 2002 and 2007. Watching films and television helped me familiarize myself with the English language, and it left me wanting more. When I went back to France, I relished the opportunity of binge-watching shows or films in English – particularly British TV, such as The Mighty Boosh, Skins, Misfits, and The Inbetweeners. Not long after finishing high school in France, I moved to London for a film course and I realized then that I wanted to be a filmmaker. Afterwards, I went back to Paris to complete a three-year Bachelor of Fine Arts and have been making my way into the business ever since.


  Shooting a drama film in Switzerland :    Fabrice Chapuis

Shooting a drama film in Switzerland : Fabrice Chapuis

4. What would you tell young teens looking to get into cinematography?

First and foremost, watch lots of films and television (in high quality please!) on Netflix/Hulu/Prime. That’s the fun part because you can never watch too much TV if you’re a filmmaker in-the-making!

Moreover, I would suggest following YouTube channels such as EveryFrameAPainting  and Nerdwriter1; they provide great analyses of classic films, for free! Also check film posts on Twitter and Reddit, there are great discussions about films there.

If you have some time, make a step outline of your favorite movie(s) – I would recommend not to necessarily use the one you find the most artistic, but the one you watch again and again. Basically, you hit pause every time a new shot comes onto the screen and briefly write down your thoughts on it: what did you see? What did you hear? What new information is the shot telling you? New characters? New prop? An action? And so on. It takes a few hours to do it but it’s the best way to grasp how a film is made. At the end of it, you’ll be able to see how everything sticks together, how a director keeps the pace and your heartbeat racing, and how little you need to actually show or hear for people to understand what is going on. For me that’s the key to great filmmaking.

Last but not least, put a little money aside and invite your friends and family on Sundays to make short films, documentaries and music videos. Provide free pizza and drinks! Now, the important part, don’t just leave them as files on your computer, share them online or send them to free film festivals around the world, someone will see your film!


  Working on Gabriel’s movie, Resilience, produced by Tiziana Giammarino. :    Fabrice Chapuis

Working on Gabriel’s movie, Resilience, produced by Tiziana Giammarino. : Fabrice Chapuis

5. What are some things you’re passionate about besides for directing and producing?

I love traveling, discovering new cultures and gastronomy. I love technology and gadgets of all sorts – and I recently started piloting a drone and I absolutely love it. It’s such a thrilling experience, especially as a filmmaker because you use your framing skills to operate the drone.

6. What does a day in your life look like?

Every day, I need one to two hours to get out of morning sleepiness. I’m not a morning person! Then, when I’m fully awake, I go through the day’s events on my calendar and prepare for them. There isn’t work every day so a lot of my days are about developing my screenplay ideas or reaching out to others for inspiration or interesting conversations. I usually pay attention to time zones so I know when I can contact my friends and family around the world.

  While working as a part-time waiter to fund his short films, Gabriel made the May 2014 cover of Bon Appétit.

While working as a part-time waiter to fund his short films, Gabriel made the May 2014 cover of Bon Appétit.

7. What are some things you’re excited about right now?

I’m currently writing a new short screenplay as well as doing some research for my first feature film. I recently moved to Vancouver, Canada, so I’m still rejoicing at every little bit of American culture that I can distinguish or compare to European, Australian or Korean standards. And every two months or so, I get some good news regarding festival selections or awards and two to three times a year I can actually travel and attend the festivals in person, that’s always fun!

8. Did you have any notable setbacks during your filmmaking career?

The post-production of my biggest short film, Horla, was a nightmare. My original cut didn’t make the school’s end-of-the-year projections because it was not considered “good enough” so it was a big disappointment. At this stage, most of the students I knew that also didn’t make the selection gave up on their films but I really didn’t want to, especially since I had poured so much of my own and my crew’s time into it (as well as a full year of part-time waitering). Afterwards, when I moved to South Korea, I got inspired again for my film and with the help of my partner and our new Korean friends, I re-edited the film, changed the story slightly, did a new sound design and added effects. Now, three years later, it went on to be selected at more than seventy festivals across the world and I landed a few distribution deals. The point is that you should not give up on your projects until you find the right audience for it. Someone, somewhere on the planet, will like your film, it’s almost guaranteed.

At the screening of Horla at the FIFAL, Adaptation Film Festival of Fontainebleau, France

9. What has been your proudest moment?

One moment that meant a lot to me was the first time I saw my film streamed online on Shudder. I could see the reviews of people I didn’t know, talking about something I did. Good, average, or bad, it wasn’t the point – it was the fact that a conversation was started on a piece of art that we created. Opinions couldn’t be more different from one to the other, but it was very interesting to read the thoughts of people that had liked the film and of others who didn’t. It allowed me to pinpoint the elements that didn’t work and the ones that did work well in the film.

10. What is your vision for the future?

At the moment, I am still in a transitional period – learning about the Canadian lifestyle, but eventually I would like to direct my first feature here. In the meantime, I am happy producing and directing short films, commercials, music videos, here but also in France and in South Korea.

Some facts about Gabriel:

  • He likes to follow the works of the Mexican trio Guillermo Del Toro, Alejandro Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón.

  • He is happiest when he’s with his partner, “talking about life!”

  • His favorite foods are “Korean Tonkatsu, BBQ, and of course French/Italian charcuterie with lots of cheese and wine!”

  • The best piece of advice he ever received is “don’t be afraid of failure, you need obstacles to overcome in order to progress.”

  • His favorite parts of the filmmaking process are the “pre-production meetings with heads of department – those moments when everyone is there with you, learning everything there is to know about your project and creating art together.”

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Production Credits

Photographer: Javier Sotres

Facebook: Javier R Sotres Photography
Instagram: @sotresjr_photography
Check out his website to see more of his work.

Art Director: Laura Katz

Instagram: @laurakatzzz
Check out her website to see more of her production portfolio.

Interview: Adelle Goldenberg

Instagram: @adellegoldd
Contact her at adelle@glamsalad.com.

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On the set of Resilience in Porrentruy, Switzerland

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On the set of Resilience in Porrentruy, Switzerland

In early May, my team and I went to Switzerland to shoot my new project, a drama film about childhood and grief, following the story of an eight year old kid who helps his mother go through the loss of her own mother all the while struggling with depression.

The film is produced by Tiziana Giammarino, a Swiss-American indie film producer and screenwriter establshed in Los Angeles, CA. She was determined to go back to her sources with Resilience and found the perfect place for me to transform her story into a film. We were also lucky to work with such talented actors, Jesse and Justine whom you will see in the pictures below.

I was once more accompanied by my filmmaking team, my wife and production designer Laura Katz, my director of photography Maria Lis, Etienne our sound engineer (and actually part time gaffer) as well as Aranya Singh, our camera assistant.

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A filmmaker's guide to online film submission platforms

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A filmmaker's guide to online film submission platforms

This post is designed to help indie filmmakers to decide upon which online platforms to use to send their films to festivals. The list below is based on my experience and may not reflect the full reality.

The idea behind these platforms is to replace the outdated and expensive method of sending films. Traditionally, the only way to submit your film to a festival implied making your own VHS, Dvd or Bluray and then sending them by mail. This was, and still is, a very lucrative business! Which is why many filmmakers and entrepreneurs around the world have sought to find a digital alternative to it. Here below are a few popular ones:

- Withoutabox, founded in 200o in the US by David Strauss and Joe Neulight, was the first online platform. Today, it remains the most conventional way of sending one's film to festivals although they are no longer alone. On the plus side, they have recently made efforts to renovate their interface, and are an effective and safe route for your films to festivals all around the world. However, on top of being very costly, I feel that Withoutabox is too much oriented on major film festivals and doesn't offer many middle range festivals that indie filmmakers thrive on.

- Filmfreeway, created in February 2014 by Canadian Zachary Jones, is today in my opinion the most convenient and altogethercheapest platform. Starting off with a nice interface, Filmfreeway offers a very fast set-up - literally allowing anyone to enter the page and submitting their film within minutes. With a big list of festivals, one of Filmfreeway's strength is to a offer a wide array of festivals, small and big, free and expensive. It is also theonly website that does not take any commission to send films to festivals! Their other advantage is a precise and customizable follow-up regarding submitting status and acceptance status. On the cons, Filmfreeway misses many of the big festivals, and I found that they were mainly concentrated on North American festivals.

- Festhome, created in Spain, is a great alternative, andquite cheap. Although not the cheapest, Festhome boasts a great solution for sending films with their "distribution pass", allowing to send your film unlimitedly for a yearly subscription of 40 euros (not much if you consider some platforms ask 2-3 euros for each submission!). One of the things that makes Festhome an essential in my opinion is their coverage of non-English speaking countries. This is particularly true for Southern European and Latin American festivals. Another plus, is their sophisticated statistics page, that really shows how well your film is doing and where (including countries, costs, time, etc...). Finally, they now have a great time-saving tool which actually prevents you from submitting to the wrong festivals, and by that I mean if the film length is incorrect, or the theme, or the country of residence. And I have nothing particularly bad to say about it!

- Filmfestivallife, other wise known as FFL, was created in Germany and is a trendy platform. In comparison to the other platforms, Filmfestivallife connects with its filmmakers and accompanies them on social media. Moreover, even though individual submissions are quite pricy, they've recently implemented a great payment plan for unlimited submissions to compete with the other platforms above (5 euros per month - 13,50 euros every 3 months - or 48 euros a year). In my opinion, the main strengths of this platform reside in its user interface and how they integrate the filmmaker's side to the festivals and more importantly how they curate festivals and only provide the most legitimate ones. For instance, it's possible to read information about the festivals and give them a rating. Power to the filmmakers!

- Reelport, from Germany, may look a bit outdated but it is still very relevant for shorts. Boasting a small list of festivals, Reelport only offers interesting and/or big festivals. I feel that the platform curates the festivals so as to only offer the best to filmmakers, and that's good because their submission price is costly (2 euros per submission). They are particularly good at finding middle-range North and Eastern European festivals that you will not find everywhere else.

- Uptofest, created in Spain, is a useful platform forEuropean festivals. It boasts a good list of festivals and has a tool that automatically matches your film to specific festivals. On the downside, they do not update the submission status. Also, I've had some bad experiences uploading my film there and even though the team was helpful, I felt there were some issues with their interface. It's only for shorts.

- Shortfilmdepot, created in Europe, is a safe platform just for shorts. It boasts a list of only middle-range towell recognized festivals such as schnit, bogota shorts, trouville as well as more recent festivals like Asiana. You know if your film is selected, it is really good news. On the cons, the platform has a very small list of festivals, making it only a complimentary platform when compared to the others.

- Last but not least, Filmfestplatform from France, is not my cup of tea. I only use it because it is essential for small to middle-range festivals in French speaking countries. Of course, the other platforms above offer French festivals, and renown French festivals such as Cannes and Deauville have their own submitting platforms, but this platform allows you to find festivals from small cities, and some of these festivals don't even have a website! And although it has a nice interface, you'll understand what French bureaucracy means. They're going to say they're for modern filmmakers, professionals and amateurs alike but then most of their festivals will want to receive a dvd as screener and then they usually require one or two DCP, though many of these see themselves as truly "independent". The staff is not particularly helpful and to be honest some of their festivals think they are top-notch but often they are not even famous outside of their own region (not surprising from France I guess). But I will give them credit for giving an opportunity to foreign filmmakers to find access to remote French festivals (there's an English version).

Anyway, that's it for the platforms that I've used. I also know about a few more that seem to be good, especially the Australian Shortfilmcentral or Clickforfestivals. There is also Movibeta and FestivalFocus for you to check!

References

http://filmmakersfans.com/filmfreeway-vs-withoutabox-experience-project-review/ 

https://www.withoutabox.com/browse#predefinedListType=HOTLIST&sort=RELEVANCE&page=1 

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Interview for the M magazine

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Interview for the M magazine

Following the Kwebfest award, I was invited along with a couple of local filmmakers to come in for an interview with the M magazine! The other speakers were filmmakers Aurelien Laine, Shannon McClain Robertson and comedian Jesse Day.


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We won the "Best Horror" Award at the Kwebfest!

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We won the "Best Horror" Award at the Kwebfest!

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Interview for TBS - Kwebfest Nominations

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Interview for TBS - Kwebfest Nominations

Today I was interviewed for the TBS radio station Mainstreet (@1013mainstreet) along with director and Kwebfest founder Young Man Kang (@youngmankang) about my nominations at the upcoming festival this week. 

My project, "Horla" was nominated as "Best Horror" and "Best Actor" (Tristan Pelissier @tristanium5) and will be in competition thiscoming thursday and friday (July 30th-31st) in Asia's first web-series festival!

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At the border with the North.

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At the border with the North.

Last week, Laura and I accompanied the Colombian ambassador (of South Korea) to Hwacheon, one of the outposts of the South Korean army and of the Allied forces of Nato in the demilitarized zone. It was pretty intense as you can see below. 

They even had pictures of holes made by the shells of enemy fire, of the two times (Estimated guess) that soldiers from the other side had targeted them. Well I can say the day started being quite patriotic, pro armament and so on but nothing prepared us for what came next (and then again what else would you have expected from a Korean -Colombian gathering by the North Korean border. A soccer game!

We went to a camp mostly made of recent military recruits and they were supporting their own mini Korean Team against a Colombian soccer team made of the 10 Colombians that are in Korea and can play soccer! See pictures from my partner Laura Katz (@laurakatzzz).

I couldn't believe it! The whole stadium was cheering, we watched a friendly soccer game, albeit the tanks positioned on each side of the field. It was incredible to see all this optimism given what they have to deal with only a few kilometers away.

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