Patrice Laliberté and Guillaume Laurin met in a video store in Mirabel, where they worked when they were young. The two movie buffs immediately fraternized and began to dream out loud of the projects they would like to carry out.
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Ten years ago, when Guillaume Laurin was still a theater student at Cégep Lionel-Groulx, the two artists from Blainville founded, with Julie Groleau Couronne Nord, a multidisciplinary production company that has since supervised not only his short and feature films, but also those of their collaborators.
His first production was… an ambitious work, we will destroy, by Philippe Boutin, presented on a football pitch with 34 actors as part of the OFFTA, under the patronage of Dave St-Pierre. And his first feature film, Until the decline, the first product in Quebec for the Netflix platform, has been watched since the start of the pandemic, in the spring of 2020, by 31 million viewers worldwide. A feat for a Quebec movie directed by an unknown (Laliberté), camped in winter in a survival shelter.
Couronne Nord’s most recent feature film, Beautiful day, an intimate film about loneliness and alienation that will be released on May 6, is unique in that it was produced entirely on a cell phone by Patrice Laliberté. It stars Guillaume Laurin as a bicycle courier who delivers rather suspicious packages to incongruous places on behalf of a rather seedy boss (Marc Beaupré).
Jérémie (Laurin) is also a conspiracy theorist convinced of living in a parallel reality, Matrix, since the end of the world announced in 2012 by the Mayans. Between two installments, record a podcast about his wacky theories. Until the day his routine is upended by a popular influencer (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse) turned next-door neighbor, fueling a new virtual obsession at home.
the scene of Beautiful day, signed Laliberté, Laurin, Nicolas Krief and Geneviève Beaupré, was more or less improvised from the canvas and was notably inspired by the lived experiences of Guillaume Laurin. Younger and penniless, he worked as a “valet” for a little-known organization – “I was going to receive my pay in the bottom of the basement,” he says with a laugh – and had two instagrammers as neighbors.
They had been facing refusals from institutions for two years, with Until the declinewhen Laliberté and Laurin had the idea, in 2018, to produce a film themselves inspired by the way Gaspar Noé and his draft scripts (by Irreversiblein particular).
“We took the writing out of the cinema and went straight into the action,” explains Patrice Laliberté, whom we met on a café terrace at La Petite-Patrie. “To practice writing on the set, which is rare in the theater, and even more so in the cinema,” adds Guillaume Laurin.
The idea of filming with a cell phone (a Google Pixel 2) quickly caught on.
We were in a rush. We told ourselves that it would be foolish to try to change it any other way. Then we had to write the script with this urgency and technical limitation in mind. It fed the script.
In addition, the premise of the scenario was naturally anchored to this technology, constantly hand in hand with the protagonist. “It was interesting that the tool formally spoke to the script,” says Guillaume Laurin. The enigmatic character that he embodies -and who is from practically all planes- has reflections of stalker sociopath on social networks.
In a way, this Jeremiah is reminiscent of the character played by Joaquin Phoenix in you were never really herea neo-noir film by Lynne Ramsay, or even the famous Travis Bickle of Taxi driver by Martin Scorsese. “It’s an interpolation of Taxi driverexplains Patrice Laliberté. We went back to the basic material of this film that I studied from end to end and from all sides. »
The setting could be modified according to the ups and downs of a complicated shoot, which was interrupted by the good news of the financing of Until the decline. “We had finished shooting the first block and the offer from Netflix arrived. We put everything on pause and met again to finish the movie afterwards. Until the decline Laurin says. “And then there was the pandemic,” recalls Laliberté, which explains why the film wasn’t completed until 2021.
Shooting with a smartphone means being able not only to retake scenes two years apart without incurring too much cost, but also to arrive unannounced at filming locations, with a small crew.
Laurin and Laliberté, for example, filmed in the Montreal subway without asking for permission. “If we ask for permission, they will never give it to us, so it is better that we take the permission directly! The script was built with that strength”, explains the director. There are striking sequences in Beautiful day where Guillaume Laurin weaves his bike between cars and buses. Patrice Laliberté followed him on his way, also on his bike, with one hand on the handlebars and the other holding his cell phone…
“This is the section Donkey of the movie ! », says Laurin, who comes from the world of skateboarding (like her character in the webseries Fork). “Lucky we didn’t have the money at first! admits Laliberté. Because we couldn’t have done all that. Once you have the money, you have to go see the insurers, and that’s a resounding no! »
Without being hastily filmed, Beautiful day has a punk or DIY side (Do it yourself) fully assumed. Laurin, as Laliberté likes to remember, was an actor, screenwriter, producer, costume designer, prop designer, makeup artist, and hairdresser, all at the same time on this shoot.
Guillaume Laurin, who will be in the cast of Coverallby Francis Leclerc, based on the best-seller by Stéphane Larue, prepares for next year, in Duceppe, the theatrical adaptation of the comic strip by Samuel Cantin White horse. She is also working with Patrice Laliberté on the screenplay adapted from Paul Serge’s best-selling novel Forest. everything is original. A more ambitious film on a formal level that they hope to be able to produce thanks to the help of the institutions (SODEC and Telefilm Canada).
The duo will not stop making other films with a mobile phone (as Steven Soderbergh did, for example, with insane).
Especially if you have to wait years in the bureaucratic labyrinth of public funding before you get the green light for your projects.
“These are more intimate movies,” says Patrice Laliberté. I wouldn’t make a great movie with a cell phone. It is another relationship with the position of a filmmaker. We are much more in action, invested. It’s the mobility you don’t have with a team of 70 people. »
The filmmaker, who learned his trade in the KINO movement and with short films presented at festivals, above all did not want his film not to be seen in theaters (it will be presented in 13 theaters, starting next Friday). Perhaps, like Guillaume Laurin, he had his cinematographic training thanks to the video store and video on demand, the importance of cinema has never seemed greater to him.
“I wouldn’t have said the same thing before, but my way of speaking has changed in two years,” he says. Seeing people, hearing them laugh, is not at all the same relationship. After the pandemic, I find that the room is essential. »
Beautiful day It will be presented in theaters from Friday, May 6.