In our latest interview with Blood Father Director Jean-François Richet talks about his process and collaboration on his latest film.
How did you know you wanted to be a director?
I do not really know. I always watched old movies with my mom, many classic films that would air on Friday and Sunday evening on television at midnight. This is also the only memories I have, black and white films, I have no memories of cartoons for example. I have memories of film noir.
What drew you to this project?
The script – it was very well written and all characters had their own identity and particular motivations. I particularly liked the social inking of the characters.
This film feels like it’s operating on several levels - one being a straight forward genre film about a father trying to reconnect with his daughter - and one about Mel Gibson’s return to Hollywood - were these both concerns you carried with you throughout the film?
Peter Craig wrote both the novel before Mel was attached to the project. I did immediately think of Mel when I read the script as when I chose an actor, I have only one motivation: who can be the ideal actor to embody a role. By the time I had finished reading for the first time, it was obvious that it was Mel.
Did you find it intimidating directing another director, especially someone as passionate and skilled as Mel?
No, I didn’t. I simply did my job. At the first meeting I had with Mel, I told him all the admiration I had for his work. I consider him one of the greatest contemporary filmmakers, as well as Michael Mann, Nolan, or Scorsese. Mel let me do my job and while he sometimes did not always understand what I was doing and I did not always have time to explain why I was doing something, he trusted me. On set, Mel had some great ideas for his character - It was a blessing to work with such a talented actor. He had a kindness and sense of availability that I have not seen in many other actors.
The relationship between Mel and Erin is a highlight of the film - can you talk about your rehearsal process working with them and trying to build their rapport?
I think they built their own relationship. Mel was not involved with the selection of the cast, he trusted me on this, once again. I remember one day on the set, Erin had a sore throat, Mel left and returned with some medicine to help her. Once I realised they had this kind of relationship, we know that they would do well on screen.
How did you collaborate with the writers on this film - particularly with Peter Craig who was adapting his own novel?
Peter's script was already perfect. I found that he had kept the essence of the father/daughter bond, similarly to the book. I had a unique relationship with Peter, as from the beginning he always trusted my direction. As with Mel or Producer Sebastien Lemercier, we always had the interest of the film at heart, without ego, just for the film.
I was particularly struck by the editing of your film - where you would often play up a really quiet moment to then interrupt it with a loud and intense action beat. Did you have a particular methodology in designing these scenes for maximum effect?
I always try to break the rhythm I've established. I did not make a contemplative film, I like that once we understood the meaning of a shot, I would cut and go to the next. I try to make each shot bring a different and unique information to the story.
What was the toughest part of this film? What would you repeat or avoid going forward?
The hardest part in any movie is to get the funding and to remain artistically free. Everything is difficult when you make a film, the directing, editing but that is the nature of the work, so it is up to you. Finding the money is a more difficult process I find, because it often depends a lot on other people. But when you get the chance to work with an actor like Mel, you forget all the difficulties.