Virginia Bach is a French writer and filmmaker, based is Paris. Virginia's 3rd film, Tell Him, won Best Director, Best Drama and Best Young Actor, at the 5th annual Top Shorts 2019. We invited Virginia to join us for an interview. Here's her story.
Virginia, congratulations on winning Best Director of the Year at Top Shorts. Tell Him was one of our favorites here at Top Shorts. As Premier Judge Ronn Kilby described, It speaks softly as it carries a big emotional weight. Before we talk about it, please tell us a bit about yourself; Where are you currently based, and where are you originally from?
I am a French writer and filmmaker and I live in Paris.
Why did you decide to get into filmmaking?
I was studying English to become a teacher when a friend of mine told me she was going to Paris to study make up and special effects. I followed her and went to a film school, #CLCF, where I completely fell in love with cinema.
I then worked as a script supervisor on features and Tv series, before starting to write my own screenplay. TELL HIM is my 3rd short film.
Are there any films or filmmakers that influenced your style?
I am a great fan of Jeff Nichols films: Take Shelter, Mud, Midnight Special. I watched them carefully before the shooting. I also got inspired by Gone GIrl, by David Fincher and of course I watched one of my favourite film, ET by Steven Spielberg.
What was the inspiration for the story, and for Maxime's character?
My mother was very ill when I wrote the screenplay. And she died the year before the shooting. This is a true story. I have been walking the corridor that lead to her bedroom many years and in the end I was exhausted.
Philippe and Maxime’s characters were born of the mix of fear and courage that I’ve felt during this period, sometimes as Philippe, neither able to speak, nor to act, but also as Maxime, pushed by a life force stronger than anything.
What message were you hoping to convey with the film?
Beyond the theme of mourning, I wanted to talk about the lie. The lie we decide to tell, to protect someone we love and how much it weighs on us. Until ultimately truth comes out.
Can you take us through the process of writing and directing, and share what was the most challenging part of the production?
I worked for the first time with a co writer, Jean Marc Culiersi, and he helped me to structure and cut my material.
Then the film evolved greatly during the casting. I auditioned 20 kids before finding my Maxime, Gaspard Pasquet. When we met, I immediately felt connected to him. We worked together the bed scene, when Maxime asks his father why he cannot go to the hospital anymore, and Gaspard was so true that I began crying. I then discovered that when his mother had read the script, she had burst into tears, because when she was 5, her mother had died and her father had waited 2 weeks before telling her the truth. Amazing coincidence, she told me.
The challenging part was the shooting. A very tight schedule, 5 days only and many locations, and the emotional weight of the script. I knew I had to track the truth in every scene and I needed time. The shooting was tough, very emotional and I will remember it as a beautiful human experience.
If you could chat with a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give them?
Write everyday, learn the craft, believe in yourself and be bold.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects, and when can our readers follow more of your work.
I am currently looking for a producer for my first feature film, a coming of age drama.
Tell Him - Trailer