Q & A with Schoolhouse resident and filmmaker Augustin Doublet.
C & P:You are from France and have been living in NYC for 3 years now. How do you find the experience of living in New York? Do you prefer it to Paris?
Augustin: New York is a very challenging city and if ever you’re not in the mood or feel, let’s say melancholic, the city does not forgive it and can be harsh . In comparison to Paris the pace, the architecture, and the art de vivre is much softer.
On the other side, if you’re able to project yourself, your energy and your ideas on the city and break through the glass, the city gives you back so much in terms of dynamism, exchange, network, and money.
C & P: Did you come to NYC to study film? What program are you part of?
Augustin: Indeed. I first came here as an exchange student at Brooklyn College while I was finishing a Master’s Degree at a Parisian university.
Then I realized how much more I could and had to get from the city, Brooklyn College, and the Schoolhouse, so I decided to stay and with the help of the dean of the Film Department of the Brooklyn College I’ve been allowed to pursue my studies here.
C & P: Did you create films when you lived in France?
Augustin: Yes, I used to work mostly in the pre-production of documentaries. I worked for Gedeon Programmes for a couple of years as an AD and ghostwriter and on some other TV projects.
Otherwise at that time I was mostly painting and shooting stills, and art videos. The cinema has always been present but more as a vanishing point.
C & P: Tell me a bit about the films that you create. The 2 films that I have seen are very different, one a documentary about a local Bushwick character/photographer (What the Fuchs?) and the other a reflection on brutality (Vanishing Point). Have you always worked with a number of types of filmmaking? Do you prefer black and white film to color?
Augustin: I’m just experimenting. But looking at my work I can say that my imagination and my desire are very related to the location and environment I’m in.
For instance What the Fuchs? was an attempt to grasp some of the Bushwick hipstery mayhem through the portrait of the photographer Rafael Fuchs. Vanishing Point was the graphical aspect of Brooklyn, the shades of the train tracks, the broken warehouse, the turmoil of the graffiti.
Stills from Vanishing Point
C & P: Where does the text that the woman is reading in the film come from?
Augustin: The text has been written by Mariette Papic, a great poet and a dear friend of mine. I commissioned her for that piece; which brings a lot of depth and complex sensuality to the story.
C & P: Vanishing Point is shot in Bushwick and has the gritty look of films which were part of the “cinema of transgression” movement in the 1980s on the lower east side. Are you influenced by filmmakers like Nick Zedd and Richard Kern? Did seeing their films create a desire in you to come to NYC to make films?
Augustin: I discovered their work after the production of Vanishing.
When I first came here it was mostly the New Hollywood period that I had in mind. I was looking for the mood of the 70s. I was really fascinated by the harshness, dirtiness, and loose eroticism of the cinema of the 70s.
C & P: The film also utilizes the Schoolhouse space, did you have help from your housemates when filming? Is living at the Schoolhouse inspirational for you?
Augustin: The Schoolhouse is the first and only space I lived in since I arrived in NY. And I consider myself very lucky for that. I found myself right away surrounded by creative people who were already very active in the industry. Cassidy Mosher was working on Gossip Girl, Derek Deems (the DP of two of my films) was a freelance grip, Jennifer Sacks already set designed many shorts.
It was and it still is a very creative and challenging environment.
C & P: Who is the woman in the film? Do you use trained actors in your films or people that you know?
Augustin: Laura Graham who has the lead in Vanishing Point is a professional actress as well as a talented producer/director.
For my latest production I worked with mostly professional actors (Anna-Nora Bernstein who has the supporting lead role has already played major parts in a few features). However, I encountered the lead character Marcus Grant randomly on the basketball court of my block next to the Bushwick Housing projects.
Marcus delivered an incredible performance and I truly hope that ADAM will only be the beginning of his career.
There was a large cast and crew with some complicated scenes in terms of choreography and pacing, so we rehearsed a lot together, which is kind of unusual in the production of a short film.
The fact that I write direct and produce my own projects allows the cast as well as the crew to experiment with me throughout the process.
C & P: Tell me a little about the new film that you are working on now? When/where will you be showing it?
Augustin: ADAM will be shown during BOS. The story is about the odd and charming journey that Adam, a kid from the hood and Coco, a kleptomaniac actress, are going through during one day in Bushwick.
It encompasses the different aspects of the neighborhood: the gritty part, with the street scams, the violence, in a word the low-life reality, juxtaposed against the emerging artistic and creative side.
Stills from ADAM
C & P: What filmmakers/artists/places/etc… have been an influence on you?
Augustin: I truly discovered cinema when I was 16 thanks to a friend of mine Anton Solnitski (now a filmmaker). We missed classes together and spent our afternoons watching Bergman, Kubrick, and Kurosawa movies.
I would say that Fellini gave a lot of flavors and motion to my imagination. Wells certainly gave me a strong desire to tell stories and to keep on dreaming no matter what the obstacles may be.
Literature and art history are my first loves and it’s true that even if I’m not sure yet how they have or will influence me, authors like: Baudelaire, Melville, Celine, Rousseau, Kafka, Borges, Dostoevsky, Genet, or Koltes have been very present in my life.
The same applies to painters and photographers, to quote a few: Hopper, Freud, Bacon, Whistler, Courbet, Shiele, Goya, Giacometti, Rembrandt, El Greco, Koudelka, Franck, Moon, Avedon…
C & P: What could you imagine doing if you did not create art?
Augustin: I’m not really sure that I’m doing art I would just say that I’m experimenting and in doing so I try to travel and introduce myself to different cultures, patterns (psychological and visual) and people.
I’m not sure what I would do but I enjoy helping people to create and express themselves a lot. Or maybe I would try to open a restaurant in the south-west of France with a couple of friends.
Augustin’s room at the Schoolhouse
The Schoolhouse hours over BOS weekend:
Friday, the 1st – 5PM — 11PM
Saturday, the 2nd – 12PM — 11PM
Sunday, the 3rd – 12 PM – 8 PM
Augustin Doublet will be screening Adam all weekend.
Photos of Augustin © Christine Navin. Do not reproduce without permission.