Printemps (Spring) follows a young woman (played by Catherine Brunet) haunted by a nightmare in which she is drowning who drives around the backroads of Quebec in search of any sign of her brother (Dany Boudreault).
The film explores the depths of family bonds, the fear of loss and the cycle of new beginnings. And, as writer-director-producer Sebastien Duguay explains, the project involved (literally) transforming dreams into art.
“The idea came from a deep feeling I had in a recurrent dream where I was submerged underwater, unable to catch my breath. I wanted to capture that darkness in a way to free myself from it,” Duguay says. “That feeling is connected with the idea of losing someone you hold close to your heart. For me, one of the things that I cherish the most is my relationship with my sister. So, I decided to write a film about what would happen if I lost that.”
Duguay set to work on the film during COVID-19, opting to self-finance the $25,000 (CAD)-project with some help from family and friends.
“I’d been directing a lot of commercials for the past seven years and felt that I was slowly losing my creative light. During the second wave of the pandemic, I really had in me an urgency to make a narrative project,” he says. “This whole process really re-ignited my passion for cinema and it has led me to develop more fictional narrative projects.”
“The film’s visual personality comes from the raw and imperfect qualities of the film grain and it really adds to the experience of watching it for the first time.”
From idea to completed work, Printemps took about a year-and-a-half to make, including a three-day shoot on 16mm in a rural farming area just outside Montreal.
“We had only a small amount of film stock and had to rehearse every scene many times before we shot them to minimize the amount of film we used, but I wouldn’t have done it any differently,” Duguay says. “The film’s visual personality comes from the raw and imperfect qualities of the film grain and it really adds to the experience of watching it for the first time.”
Duguay says he was extremely lucky to be surrounded by collaborators who believed in his vision and emphasizes the “incredible participation” of everyone involved in the project, especially that of the film’s two actors.
“Catherine performed her own stunts, falling on the ground in a muddy field, smashing her hand into a car window, screaming and breaking her voice,” he says. “I’m infinitely grateful for this unique collaboration. She has a deep passion for this media, and I praise her for that.”
“Catherine performed her own stunts, falling on the ground in a muddy field, smashing her hand into a car window, screaming and breaking her voice.”
He adds that Boudreault also turned in a powerful performance, contributing his own improvisations at some key moments in the film.
“Dany gave it all, adding his unique edge and his fierce qualities to bring his character to life,” Duguay says. “He also submerged his body in freezing water in a scene that we unfortunately had to cut from the edit, and I’d like to thank him for his incredible dedication.”
With Printemps now out on its festival run, Duguay says he has had more time to reflect on the things he has learned from working on the project. He adds that he hopes he can also encourage other filmmakers to go out and find their own cinematic language.
“Just go out there and shoot as much as possible and be creative and sharpen your skills. When in doubt, always prioritize the story and the acting over the beautiful shot – visual quality is useless if you don’t have a good idea or a good script,” he says. “By creating and going out there as much as possible, you will always refine your craft and eventually find within yourself some stories that deserve to be told.”
Follow Printemps on Instagram here (@printemps.shortfilm) or connect with Sebastien Duguay via his website here.