GCE Exclusive: Interview with Director Renaud GauthierJuly 7, 2014
With his first feature film Discopath just released on DVD, I was lucky enough to talk to Renaud Gauthier about the movie, directing and his love of music.
Would you say making Discopath was a labor of love for you?
You could definitely say that. [Laughs] As an independent filmmaker, it is hard to get financing to do these pictures so you have to use your imagination and have the ability to be creative. I have had the basic idea for the movie for a long time, you know, a man who can kill someone on the floor of a discotheque and get away with it. As a kid, some of the elements of disco music also scared me so it was good to be able to combine the two together.
How important was the music to the success of the movie?
Well, I have always believed that music was a key element to any movie, not just specific to the horror genre, you know? Discopath, being set in the 70’s, needed a good soundtrack that represented the time period well. I was able to buy the rights to a couple of disco songs which helped immensely.
I still remember seeing Goodfellas in what 1990, and it was like wow, that is how you use music in a movie. Of course, it helped that the movie was great to begin with but still, the music in that film was inspiring to me. I mean, before you phoned I was listening to the soundtrack from American Gigolo! (Laughs) Actually, me and a couple of guys are starting a vinyl club and we have about five thousand records so hey, vinyl is not dead, man.
What do you think of the state of the horror genre these days?
Overall, I would say pretty good. The horror genre allows you to go many different directions and with Discopath I did just that. It is a horror movie, but with comedic elements to it. That can be a tricky thing, trying to balance horror and comedy but I believe we pulled it off. I was happy with how it turned out, it has a real authentic feeling which we worked very hard on while on the set. It can be a slippery slope, and you must walk a fine line to be able to balance everything out.
Whose idea was it to build the passenger part of the airplane, and was it hard to do?
Well, the idea was thrown out there and being the king of frugal that I am, I mean you have to know how to stretch your money on these films, we figured out how to do it. A few thousand bucks in supplies and some creative thinking, like making the airplane windows out of trash cans, and there you go. I used to travel around the world with a rock band and would shoot things on days off, so I learned what looked good and how to make it look even better.
How much fun was it to shoot the car chase and crash scene?
I think Montreal is one of the last places left in North America where I can afford to do what I did. I bought five cars, including the hearse, for about a thousand bucks each and I was able to pull it off, it was a trip. [Laughs] The hearse had such little damage I was able to sell it back to the owner as part of the payment.
Shooting this movie on such a shoestring budget, I was very happy to do that scene. Its great too, traveling around the world to different conventions and festivals to go to screenings and hear people laugh and scream, and a lot enjoy the car chase scene. It’s wonderful.
Was it strange having you and your daughter acting in the same movie?
It was very strange. [Laughs] No, it was interesting, she really wanted to and I didn’t force her but we talked about it and it was all good, you know? She got to have a whole mould done on her body so that was fun. She really enjoyed it, she’ll be back.
So which is harder, acting or directing?
I do like to act, but I find it difficult to act and direct in the same movie. I had the cameo in this movie as the killer’s father and that was cool, a nice small part. But it is hard to do both and do them well. You have to concentrate on a lot of details when you are directing so if you are acting, something is suffering. I do like acting though, so if I can fit something small in like this cameo, I will. Otherwise, I’ll concentrate on directing, that’s hard enough. [Laughs]
What do you find to be your biggest challenge as a director?
There are many things to do and things to remember, but basically the most important thing is planning ahead. You don’t want to be caught on set unprepared and winging it, stuff like that makes you look like an amateur. You have to map things out and plan everything ahead of time so things go smoothly, and then everyone is happy, you know?
This is not a crazy story and even with the ambiguous ending, it was written like that and I was happy it turned out that way. We had the extra challenge of having students on set, learning how things work, so the crew might change from day to day but still, things went pretty smooth and my original vision stayed pretty much intact.
Can we get a hint on what you are working on next?
Well, I can’t say much but I’m hoping to do something again with the boys from Black Fawn, this time in Toronto. Razor blades and Loverboy, how about that in a movie? Keep your fingers crossed.
I want to thank Renaud Gautier for his time today. If you want to learn more about Discopath, you can visit the Discopath official site where you can read more about the film, watch the trailer or order a copy of the film for yourself.