L: Hello Olivier, tell us about yourself. Who are you?
O: Hello, I am Olivier Beguin, a filmmaker from Switzerland, currently doing the festival circuit with my first feature film, CHIMERES. I am also a big movie buff.
L: You’re a big fan of horror and genre movies. Why do you love horror?
O: I think most of all I like genre and fantastic movies. Because it allows you to mix “real” feelings, emotion you can identify with, but in a world or setting that differs from our world. It’s this opportunity of mixing many things that I like in genre cinema. As far as pure horror, I love it because for its visuals and for the feelings it gives you. You don’t just watch a movie, you feel it physically. Not every genre allows that.
L: When did you get into filmmaking?
O: I guess it all goes back to making films on video in the forest with my school friends when I was about 15. My grandpa – I can’t thank him enough – bought a video camera and this might seem strange to some young people now, but it was quite a privilege to be able to have access to a camera at that time. But “Filmmaking” might be a bit of a pretentious word for what we were doing I guess. Although back then I’m pretty sure we were thinking we were making better films than RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. And then a few years later, I considered filmmaking as a serious option and left for the London Film School, where I learned my craft – and met my current director of photography, Florian N. Gintenreiter.
O: DEAD BONES was my 4th short film and we wanted – along with producers Adan Martin and Annick Mahnert – to do a flick which was something of a challenge for Switzerland: a horror/western, shot in Almeria, with Hollywood actors, Ken Foree and Arie Verveen. I think it’s good to push some limits when doing a new film and this was definitely the case here. Then EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH was a small film, something I decided to do as my first feature film was delayed. But again, I wanted a challenge and therefore tried comedy, which is definitely a very difficult genre. But I wanted it to still be a “genre movie”, so it’s about monsters. Unemployed monsters looking for a job. I had quite a fun cast on that, with a zombie, a vampire, a mummy and a demon amongst others. This creatures being there thanks to my long-time collaborator for make-up, David Scherer.
L: Chimères is your first full-length movie that focuses on a slow and heartbreaking descent into vampirism. It is a very strange movie in which you revitalized the vampire myth. Where did the idea come from? Can you talk about it?
O: It’s been quite a… mutation, let say. First I was going to do another film as my first feature, but the project was a bit too expensive for the money we had. Then we started to throw ideas around the table with my co-screenwriter, Colin Vettier. We had a few, but very soon, the vampire and the intimate story about a couple seemed the better one – again, adapted to our budget. But I must say that it started as a dark comedy, like AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON would be a reference. But very soon, I felt like throwing away the comedy aspect and focus on a love-story. It then all came together, doing a vampire story, but in a “realistic” way, to focus on the couple. Also mostly in vampire films, couple meet because of the vampire aspect and I wanted very much to have a couple who’s been in love for some time when that problem arise, as I thought I did not see too much of this in films. Then the movie evolved as well in prep, talking with the actors, Jasna Kohoutova and Yannick Rosset, and on the shoot. Not to mention in the editing, where we played around with the structure, again to focus as much as we could on the couple and the love-story.
L: Tell us something about the title. Why “Chimères”?
O: Actually on the shoot we only had a pretty basic working title. I did put a box where the crew could propose titles – and the winner would get a bottle of whiskey. Sadly that did not work out so well: we either had some not very good titles or some pretty cool porn titles. Then after the shoot, Jasna, who plays the main character called with an idea: Chimères. I liked it from the start, liked the sound of it and liked the different meanings of the word: 1) greek monster 2) an illusion 3) in biology an organism composed of genetically distinct cells. I like titles that have a few meanings.
O: Catriona was already in my short film EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH. I got in touch with her through my makeup artist, David Scherer, who was working with her on Richard Stanley’s segment of THE THEATRE BIZARRE. We liked working together on EMPLOYEE and she liked the crew and our town actually. So when it came to CHIMERES, basically it was pretty much a no-brainer and the role was written with her in mind. I really appreciate the trust Catriona has put in us and in those films.
L: Chimères is winning many awards in the festival circuit and has very good reviews. Did you expect this success?
O: Actually 2 days before the world premiere at the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival, we were still working on the mix with Gwenn Deschenaux, the sound designer (and co-producer) and Lorris Gisana, the composer. So we did not really have time to think about what would happen with the film once we were finished. We definitely were scared going to the first screening, that’s for sure! But that first festival ended well with good responses, reviews and the jury’s special mention. We could not have hope for a better start. And then the responses kept being good, so we really can’t complain. And we’re very happy to see that people of different ages are touched by the love-story. So of course, we hoped people would like it and be touched by it, but I can’t say we expected that much. But this is a good reward for the whole crew who worked very, very hard to make this film happen!
L: Do you have distribution yet? What are some of the challenges in finding it?
O: I am pleased to say that our international sales agent signed a few deals at the recent Cannes Market. As far as we know we have distribution – although very unlikely to be theatrical – in the US, Canada and Germany. And a few other territories have shown interest. The biggest challenge it seems, is to find distribution in our own country of Switzerland. But we still cross fingers! And of course if an italian distributor read this, the rights are still available!
L: What are your favorite vampire movies?
O: I guess it’s a tie between Jordan’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE and Bigelow’s NEAR DARK. One very melancholic film and one very romantic. Two great vampire movies that treat its characters seriously.
L: Me too I love both of them. What are your favorite horror movies of all time?
O: I say it again and again, but Cronenberg’s THE FLY has been the most important movie of my life. This is the one film that made me realize, as I was 14 years old, that a horror movie could be a masterpiece and not only “B-movie” – although I have nothing against the B-movie term. Films that also had a strong impact on me at the times – and that I still love are ANGEL HEART and HELLRAISER. Recently I was pretty moved by MARTYRS. And of course I love all the classics like JAWS, THE EXORCIST, THE THING, ALIEN, SEVEN and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. I was lucky enough recently to catch a screening of the remastered print and to meet Mr. Hooper. Needless to say I behaved like a little kid in front of him…
L: Before I let you go, can you tell me what you’re currently working on?
O: Sadly I can’t say much. First because I haven’t been able to work on something that much recently as we’ve been touring the festivals and did not have so much time for this. And also because the few projects I want to tackle are really at an early stage. But one think I would love to do is to make a feature which would be sort of the continuation of my short film DEAD BONES, a feature horror/western.
L: Leave a message to the DarkVeins community!
O: Thanks for keeping the horror community alive. And hopefully some of you guys managed to see it at the Fantafestival!
L: I wish you the best of luck. Thanks for the talk!
O: Thank you!