INTERVIEW with Stéphanie Chuat and Véronique Reymond (Translated from French)
How did you get the idea of THE LITTLE BEDROOM?
We wanted to talk about the aging population of our country, our relationship with senior citizens and the unpleasing prospect of ending one’s life in a retirement home, anteroom of death. Overseas, people see Switzerland as a nursing home. It leads us to ask and explore the questions "What do we do with our elderly people?" or "What are we going to do when we got old?" We go through life like rockets until one day; we aren’t able to physically support ourselves anymore. At this moment, we become a liability for the society; we become useless and cost tons of money in medical expenses.
We wanted to put two themes in parallel, the ending of someone’s life and the beginning of another one: a man scared by a retirement home, and a mother who cannot start over after the loss of her still-born child. At first glance, our two main characters have nothing in common; they are operating in different worlds but both of them are facing bereavement. In fact, THE LITTLE BEDROOM is a reflection on identity, the "recovery" of one’s own identity, depending on all the crises we must face, at different ages.
How did you cast your main actors? Did you already have the actors in mind while writing?
During writing, we used as inspiration the elderly people in our own lives… friends, grandmothers, neighbors… When it was time to cast, because the elderly and talented actors are rare, we naturally thought of Michel Bouquet. His charisma, consisting of a genuine mix of charm and violence, perfectly fits the character. We were already prepared for him to turn down the role since he walks away from almost every script and prefers focusing on stage work. However, to our huge surprise, he was "hooked" by our screenplay and joined us on this adventure.
Our French casting director introduced Florence Loiret Caille to us. By the end of our first meeting with this outstanding actress, we made our decision. Faithfully, Florence Loiret Caille demonstrated a rare talent and gave life to this difficult role of a woman facing a tremendous life crisis.
How was working with Michel Bouquet? Is it possible to direct an acting legend like him?
Working with him was very easy. Michel Bouquet liked the screenplay and trusted us from the beginning. He’s a fully animated actor and completely dedicated to his craft. During the shooting he was constantly working on his part, and each day he became a little more Edmond, his character in THE LITTLE BEDROOM. His non-stop commitment to the part dazzled us. On his side, he was never worried about the fact it was a two-director movie; he earnestly welcomed every direction, without making us feel we were "young bloods" in cinema. A great gift.
How do you direct as a team?
Florence Loiret Caille gave us the nickname "the Two Headed Eagle," which makes us laugh. Others refer to us as a twin engine...
To us, as we have known each other since childhood, we have "grown together" and never used words to express our work relationship because it’s built on the intuition and experience we acquired during our many other creative projects. We write with four hands and work the same way on the set with the actors and the technical crew. If one speaks to the DP, the other would work with the actors and vice versa, depending of the scenes to be shot. However, when we have to interact with a lot of people, we take a moment to make sure we are on the same page before giving directions. Sometimes a simple glance is enough.
You two are actors. Does it help you when directing other actors?
Yes, we put ourselves in the skin of the actor’s in front of the camera; we know their fears about expressing themselves because we already experienced them. Acting is difficult, we are concretely aware of it. Therefore, without pushing the actor, we try to find the right path to let him open up, to reveal the essence of the character. We don’t give up until we are satisfied because we know actors like challenges. Pressure is an excellent engine which, paradoxically, frees creativity. A scene works because of the characters’ interactions, the connection between them. The script only exists through the relation from one to the other, even if no words are used. One of our proudest accomplishments was introducing Michel Bouquet to Florence Loiret Caille on the set of THE LITTLE BEDROOM.