Advice from a pro: Philippe Falardeau on filmmaking

“How many of you here wants to be a film director, by the way?,” asked Philippe Falardeau to the crowd. Multiple hands, many of which were students in Ryerson’s School of Image Arts, shot up in response.

“Film directing is not for everyone. It’s probably not [even] the most interesting part of making a film,” he said. He smiled and said he was glad – more people to raised their hands than expected.

Falardeau is French-Canadian, Oscar-nominated director and writer who has received several awards, including the Best Canadian First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Claude Jutra Award. He is currently in post-production of a black humour comedy called Guibord S’en Va-t-en Guerre (Guibord is Going to War).

Falardeau visited Ryerson on March 2 as a guest speaker at Ryerson’s School of Image Arts’ visiting artist program. The program gets different artists to interact with students in the school – including photography, new media, and film majors – with in-class sessions as well as a public lecture. After Falardeau’s lecture, a reception was held downstairs in the lobby of the Image Arts building in which audience members got to interact with him.

Falardeau said he had practiced a lot for the lecture and that even though he gets invited to give lectures, he never accepts. He said he struggles with lectures because he doesn’t want to come off as pompous.

“I don’t want to arrive in a class and say, ‘Here, this is how it’s done.’ I can only talk about my experiences, and I have to be quite humble about it,” said Falardeau, who says his voice is only one amongst many. “I just want to be helpful.”

“Never present any aspect of filmmaking as definitive,” said Falardeau, who explained that filmmaking isn’t something that can really be taught, but instead something that is learned. “I can only share how I work and what I think is a good way to go at it.”
He didn’t go to school for film. Instead, he opted for a hands-on approach with a televised film challenge in which he travelled around the world making short films.
Dustin Krysztofiak, a film student, said he was excited to try some of the suggestions and advice on his own projects, like how Falardeau prefers to use inexperienced actors.

“I feel I actually learned a lot,” Krysztofiak said after attending the lecture. “One of my friends made me watch one of his films last week and after that I immediately had to come and hear this person who made this awesome piece of art.”

Falardeau says he still finds it odd that people from all over are following his work. 

”Struggling in the film world is normal,” he said. “But even in times of struggling, try to have fun and enjoy the process.”

Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Toste