Côme Ferré is a 33-year-old French director. After five years of writing and directing comedy clips for French television, he is now focused on making commercials.
With an ardent desire to tell stories that mix the physical and the metaphysical, reality and dreams, Côme believes that the true role of cinema is to reveal the poetry hidden in everyday realities.
Exploring this theme, his first short film, "Booksmart," sees an 8-year-old boy who spends his life reading books explore the feeling of love for the first time.
Côme, congratulations on Booksmart, your first short film! How challenging has it been writing a story to showcase in a 2.30-minute time frame? Is edition key to it?
Thank you very much, it was a huge honor to be part of the selection and to be able to screen my film in Cannes, which has cinema as part of its DNA. The story I wrote was quite simple, so when I started working on the pre-production I knew that it ultimately wouldn’t exceed 3 minutes. I always pictured it more like a short chronicle rather than a proper screenplay. In addition, I really wanted this film to be told in a “straight to the point” kind of mood. It’s my first film but I have been working in the advertising industry for a few years where super short films are the most common format, so I felt more comfortable starting with a very short film. To be honest, writing a “long” short film, the kind that lasts more than 15 minutes, seems much harder to me. The edit was indeed the true challenge of the film because even if it lasts less than 3 minutes, there are almost a hundred different shots, most of them being stock footage. Finding the right stock shots, and making them match with the story and with each other, took me weeks. For each sequence, I tried many combinations, most of which weren’t working, so I had to throw everything away and start all over with new footage. Luckily I had the help of a great editor, Marc Gurung, who I’d like to thank again here for his work and unquestioning support from the very start.
Booksmart is certainly an adorable film with adorable children's performances and amazing cinematography. Is the voice-over Liam's? Were there many shots taken before you got Liam's reaction on the last scene such as we see it on the film?
I was absolutely thrilled with all the very kind feedback I received from viewers. It’s always nice to hear that we can provoke these kinds of emotions in such a short duration. Of course, Liam, the hero, is reason number one. He was very helpful during the shooting, a great actor, always in a good mood, and curious. I’m just so glad I found him. His performance plays a large part in the success of the film. He doesn’t speak English so the voiceover was made by another person, actually, a 30-year-old woman named Kaycie Chase, she’s really impressive too. For the cinematography, the only thing I did was pick the right location, a beautiful Belgian mansion where beauty is everywhere you look. Then, all the credit goes to Sacha Weirnik, a hell of a DP, passionate and so talented. I’ve been working with him for a long time, and he keeps astonishing me. I owe him a lot.
Would you share with us what you believe the true role of cinema is?
The beauty of cinema is, to me, its richness. When you think about it, it’s the sum of so many other arts put together: the writing, the photography, the acting, the music, etc. Each of these are already endlessly rich and meaningful. When brought together, you have the power to create an “art supernova.” And some films are, to me, exactly that. Cinema can have many roles. But, in the end, I would say that cinema, like any other form of art, is there only to evoke emotions. However, unlike some other art forms, it’s a collective experience. Emotions you share with strangers have the power to bring these strangers together for a moment. This is why watching films in a theater is so important to me and why I think festivals like Indie Short Cannes are essential.