Questions Answered by Hubert Charuel of Cows with no name
How did you find your subject matter?
I found the subject matter in the editing room. When I was filming, I didn’t really know it would become a movie. I started shooting in my parents’ farm in order to keep a trace of the world I grew up in and which was bound to disappear. When my editor and I skimmed through the rushes, it became clear that a movie was there and that the subject was my mother and her difficulty to changer her life.
Why this story, now?
My first feature was a fiction film that was also set in a rural environment. It met an unexpected public success. I wanted to make an even more personal film and come full circle around this theme. The story of the documentary goes back a long time ago. I shot two thirds of the rushes five years ago before I knew that I could actually make a career in the movie industry. It was at a time of questioning for my parents but also for me regarding our respective future. I’m an only child and I didn’t take over my parents’ farm. I’ve always been close to them. This movie is my way of bringing together our past, present and future in regards to a world that belonged to all three of us and that came to an end.
How do you connect with your subject?
The connection is very natural as the film is about my parents and the farm I grew up in.
Were there any risks that you faced during production and how did you find a way to embrace them?
The greatest challenge was to find the right distance in part because I was in front of the camera but also behind the lens. I filmed the end of the farm and I’m partly responsible for it since I’m not taking it over. Hence, I was a director but also an actor in this story. It’s difficult to define your own role in such a personal movie.
How would you encourage others to tell their story through the process of screen writing or film production?
The hardest part is to overcome the writing phase. We can spend our lives pondering, thinking that we could talk about this or that, shoot it in this way or this other way without ever going past the writing stage. This time dedicated to thinking is essential but the most important thing is to overcome the fear to face a blank page and to write the first words or to set up a tripod somewhere to shoot your subject matter. That’s the hardest thing for me. So, I would say that the most important thing is to write down the first words and things will follow more naturally than the fear tries to lead think.
What aspect of the story changed most during the writing or production?
At first, my producers and I thought that we would bring into the documentary the fact that I made a fiction film which met critical success. However, this part of the story has disappeared from the documentary in order to focus on the farm, my parents and I at a key moment : the sale of the farm. The story of a farmer’s son becoming a film director is still in the movie but it’s dealt with differently.
What does it mean to you for your film to be an official selection of the Austin Film Festival 2019?
It’s an honor to be selected at the AFF. The festival provides a great arena for the North-American premiere of my movie. I’m very thankful to the festival for giving me the opportunity to show the movie across the Atlantic in a state where cows are also a big part of its life.
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