Directors are meant to dream the movie, visualize it and hear it. That is a great foundation, but if you try to enforce that too rigidly, you're loosing all the spontaneity and organic creativity that the people around you have to offer. Ron Howard

Maud Bellaïche

After getting a Master's Degree in Management from ESCP Business School in France, Maud journeyed from international development and production to writing and directing. A journey that involved five countries, countless call sheets and some life-changing encounters, allowing her to learn the craft hands-on under the mentorship of masters. Her first short film, Cycles, has won three best film and directing awards in international festivals and she is currently in development with Neuf Degrés Films for her first feature.

What is the dynamics of the decision-making process when the script is co-written by five people? (Claire BOEGLIN, Jean GASPA, David REYNIE, Hakim SEBTI and yourself)
To me, making a film is a truly collective process. Dialogue between people that have vastly different sensibilities and decide to trust each other is what the craft is all about. My job as a director is first and foremost to create an environment where the whole team can enjoy and express themselves candidly. Then, I judge when to leave the gates open and when to close them to make the required executive decisions. My writing process is no different. In this particular case, the idea of portraying a dysfunctional couple in a laundromat came from the producer and writer Jean Gaspa. We realized that the subject of abuse was polarizing between people who had experienced it or witnessed it, and people who hadn’t. So, it was important to hone a structure that could be understandable to all. Drawing from a poem that Jean wrote, I built a first draft. Then, I debated orally, separately with each of the writers, allowed notes, pitches and rewrites. Each of us brought something different : clarity, plot, dialogue, characterization, emotion… When the blueprint was clear enough, I focused on the exact feeling I wanted to convey and on how the characters would react in their situation. The only thing I firmly held on to was the ending, the rest was a collective moulding.
What was the reason for changing the light/colour at a certain point of the narrative? What role do the shadows play?
The light/colour change represents a psychological switch in the main character, Fidji. She is trapped in the suffocating environment of her toxic relationship. Her reality is distorted and cut from the normalcy of the outside world. This is represented by artifical, orange light. Helped by the handywoman, who represents the exterior that she is lacking in her life, Fidji reaches deep within and finds peace, that allows her to leave and preserve her life. She gets back to a sane and open reality, represented by soft blue, natural light. I wanted to portray survival instinct as a switch driven by the subconscious. To convey that surviving wasn’t about responding to the abusive environment and thus staying in it, but about finding the strength to respond to something other, to leave it behind and obliterate it. As for the shadows, they are either genies that live in the plumbing of the laundromat and playfully mirror Fidji’s deepest traumas, or a projection of her subconscious pushing her to make a choice. It’s up to you to decide!
3- You put up a great acting ensemble and the music and sound design seem perfect to encompass the storytelling. How would you describe this first time filmmaking experience as a whole?
Thank you ! This experience was liberating, it made me feel at peace. The cast and crew are people I met on set along the way, over the past few years. I am lucky to have been surrounded by them. Everyone wanted the best for the film and got involved with great will and professionalism. It was a trustful environment that allowed the work to flow freely. My biggest surprise was that I didn’t feel any particular release or accomplishment after finishing the film, I just felt grounded and happy. I thought, ‘this makes sense’. Now I just have to keep at it for the next few decades.