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August 22, 2012 9:23 AM
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'Little White Lies' Writer-Director Guillaume Canet on His Personal French Drama and Making the Upcoming 'Blood Ties' in the U.S.


"Little White Lies" MPI
The film echoes in many ways American hallmarks like "The Big Chill" and "The Breakfast Club." And "Tell No One" was cited by many critics as a successful homage to the classic Hitchock thrillers. Is it correct to sense a passion for American filmmaking in your work?

Totally. You know I just finished a movie called "Blood Ties." It's not the definitive title, but I'm calling it that right now. It takes place in the 70's, and I've always dreamed of doing a movie in that period, like Cassavetes. I've always been a huge fan of that kind of cinema. I grew up watching Scorsese and Hitchcock, but also French directors. "Little White Lies" is really inspired by filmmakers like Claude Chabrol, who was doing those kinds of movies.

Like "Tell No One," "Little White Lies" has a great soundtrack featuring some of the greats, like David Bowie and Janis Joplin. How much of a role does music play in your filmmaking process?

Music is one of the important things for me in cinema. I'm writing in music. Lots of the time the music that appears in the film is the music I'm listening to while writing the film. I play specific songs loudly on the set because I want everybody to hear it. I want the crew to have the emotion of the music in their ear. I want the grip man who is pushing the crane or the dolly -- I want him to be in the same space as the music. It helps the actors, too, when they play.

"Little White Lies" MPI
Moving back to "Blood Ties," I'm so fascinated by the French and their love for James Grey. At the Catherine Deneuve tribute held at Lincoln Center late last year, Grey was one of the speakers asked to pay tribute to her. They've never worked together, but she, along with many French cinephiles, is so enamored with him and his work. What's the deal?

I don't know why! Me personally I'm a fan of his films. It's exactly the kind of cinema that I love. It's the same with Woody Allen. Woody for years hasn't been recognized in the U.S. the way he is recognized and loved in Europe. What I know is that I wanted to work with him. We met because he had seen "Tell No One," and he really liked it. He wanted to meet with me one day when he was in Paris. We had lunch and became friends. I told him about "Blood Ties" and told him that I wanted him to find someone to help me on the script. He told me right away, "Pick me!" I couldn't believe it, because I didn't think he would work on something he couldn't direct.

You've acted in English before, but this marks your first English-language project as a writer-director. Did new challenges arise in making "Blood Ties?"

Shooting a movie in New York is quite difficult because of all the authorizations and unions. There are all these problems that you don't have in Europe. Some things are easier to do in Europe, so that was quite a surprise for me to see how difficult it is sometimes to get authorization to shoot somewhere. Also your crews are huge -- I think sometimes too big. When you have so many people it's difficult to do little things. Every time you want to do a little shot, you have to move the entire crew. On the other hand, the American crews are great and work very fast. That was just new. It's not a criticism. It's just that it was very different.

Do you see yourself continuing to thrive in the States?

Yeah, why not? I would love that. The only thing is I want to be sure to always have control over the movie I'm making. That's the most important thing for me. I want to always be the one making the big decisions. That's the only thing that scares me about Hollywood.

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