The Review/ Short Read/

Denis Côté's advice to young filmmakers

Get out of your basement, basically

Aug 9, 2017

When Québécois filmmaker Denis Côté talks film festivals, you should listen.

Côté’s debut feature, Les états nordiques (2005), won the Golden Leopard at Locarno. His subsequent films enjoyed great success on the festival circuit, with his 2009 docu-fiction Carcasses included in both the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes and Canada’s Top Ten here at TIFF. His 2013 feature Vic and Flo Saw a Bear premiered in Berlin, and went on to screen at 90 (90!) film festivals globally.

This past week, Côté mentored a group of student filmmakers at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Variety was a fly on the wall as Côté advised the young directors and screenwriters about how to make waves on the festival circuit and establish yourself within the independent filmmaking world.

Denis Côté’s top 6 pieces of advice for young filmmakers — our “TIFF 6ix” for the week:

  1. Make friends. “You need to be social. If you are this kind of weird poet director who has no friends and is always alone you might be a genius but… you need to talk to people. Cinema is the most social art.”
  2. Don’t be overly pushy. “There is a thin line. You need to be respectful and not annoying. The moment you become annoying everybody knows.”
  3. Send festival submissions yourself. “Never trust sales agents, distributors or film schools when they say they are taking care of your film.
  4. Don’t wait for the “right” moment.“Young filmmakers are just afraid to shoot sometimes.”
  5. Seriously, just start shooting.“If [young filmmakers] think that they don’t have the right budget for their story they don’t start.”
  6. Can’t find a script? Write one. “I’m my own job provider. If I don’t write a new script, no one will write it for me.”

In Ta peau si lisse (A Skin so Soft), a TIFF '17 selection, Denis Côté (Bestiaire, Vic + Flo ont vu un ours) examines the lives, limits, and livelihoods of six high-level bodybuilders as they prepare for future competitions, follow extreme diets, and attempt to achieve physical perfection.