Filmmakers Interview

Sabine Crossen

Sabine has been acting for about 20 years, Hitman, Lord of The Rings, Fantastic Beasts, The Manners…

This is her 4th short film after filming in 2015 Love is Blind (30 or so festivals and 22 awards), 2018 Resurrection (30 festivals and rising + 15 awards), 2019 The Wick (still to be on the festival circuit) and now O Wimbowé…

We had the great pleasure of interviewing her for  the July 2020 Edition

Hello Sabine and thank you for granting us this interview,

[MIS]  What was your purpose behind the choice of the title “O Wimbowé “?

[Sabine] Excellent question ! It came from looking at ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ lyrics. We looked at how it was spelt, as the original version was called ‘Wimoweh’ and found in the lyrics it was written ‘A-weema-weh’ in English and ‘A-wimboé’ in French and then somewhere else ‘O Wimboé’. So many versions. So we decided to make our own version. In Swahili it means to sing.

[MIS]  How was the casting done, and if you have a prior experience with the actors and actresses chosen.

[Sabine] Eliza Calmat the lead actress had acted in my 1st short ‘Love is Blind’ (she won a couple of best actress awards for it too). She also came on board as co-producer! Then casting a young boy is always complicated for film, so I asked Gustavo who played Eliza’s son in Love is Blind. He was so happy ! As they already knew each other it was easy to work with them and they also already had a great connection ‘mother / son’ vibe. For the role of the old man we had no clear idea, but my boyfriend the actor Pierre Azéma after reading the script told us about Michel Papineschi (he is the voice of Monk, Sam Neil & Robin Williams in France) and when we met him we fell in love directly. Lucky he said yes to the film !

[MIS]  Being an Actress in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Love Punch, The Brice man and many other Feature films, what pushed you to the directing field and do you think that your acting experience helped you with your directing success?

[Sabine] You’ve done your homework I see ! I actually wanted to help a fellow actor out who wasn’t working much at the time. I suggested we act in a film together and make it together. In the end I directed it, he acted in in and I discovered a whole new world. Acting has definitely helped me, being on huge film sets (and a lot of small ones too) seeing how the machine works, has helped me both as a director for actors and as a technical director. My actors have a lot of success and for the moment every film I have directed has had best actor / best actress awards or nominations, it’s their talent of course but I believe my experience helps co-create with them and allow them to stretch. I still have so much to learn but it’s so fulfilling.

[MIS]  What were the obstacles faced during the shooting of “O wimbowé”?

[Sabine] Ha! We had several! Michel couldn’t whistle. He nearly said no to the film. BUT he is a voice-over talent and he loved the script and spent time (and a couple of sleepless nights) learning. Then it was quite hard to find someone to help us teach Eliza and Gustavo sign language. As it’s an integral part of the film we were kept on our toes until the last minute when Nathalie Roche stepped in to help, an actress with deaf-mute parents.

And filming in the subway during the strikes? That was crazy, it was choker blocked, the whole cast & crew (30) getting on and off the train every 10 minutes as it was a short automatic line, lucky our 1st AD, Liz Vogel, was an ace at planning and everyone knew where to go and where to sit (photo attached of the wagon). Plus we had team members blocking and the Parisiens were not happy at being asked to step aside so we could film !! Then we are not allowed lights or equipment, so our DOP Maryline Touret, she is a sexy female Macgyvor, managed to shoot with a Fuji camera, no lights, no tripod, doing balancing acts to film.

[MIS]  Your first Short film was “Love is Blind” in 2015, you said that you discovered a whole new side to yourself and it was a moment of magic, if you were to shoot it again, what would you do differently?

[Sabine] I would shoot more takes, and do more shots to allow myself the freedom to chose in the editing room. And…I would choose my producer more wisely, because ours, well…he took the funding and ran. I know, it doesn’t only happen in films !!

 [MIS]  What makes a film great for you? And which film inspired you the most?

[Sabine] Oooo tough question. A great film for me is one where when you finish watching it you still can see the images, feel the emotions and you feel full. I’d also say you would want to see it again. Like ET, I love that film. I get inspired by parts of films, like the beauty of framing and color with Wes Anderson’s Budapest Hotel, the emotion and storytelling of Steven Spielberg, the zaniness of Brad Bird, I guess it’s more the directors than the films. Although I love Avatar and not so much it’s director !!

[MIS]  What do you consider the elements that produce a successful film?

[Sabine] Story, structure, out of the box ideas, knowing your audience is intelligent and that you are also making a film for them.

[MIS]  Do you think that the role of the filmmaker is to worry about the audience and his feedback?

[Sabine] Ah that looks into my last answer nicely. To worry no. To take it into consideration yes. Many filmmakers or directors are like “f*** you’ I’m doing what I want to do”, but for me without an audience, we have no existence. Without your cast & crew, you can’t make a film. For me it’s a family, we need each other to make it great.

[MIS]   Tell us about your upcoming projects.

[Sabine] I have just accepted to co-direct a short film with Hervé Quentin, “Bienvenue chez Candy” (Welcome to Candy’s). It’s a bit like Mr and Mrs perfect meet each other, discover they have a dark side and all goes haywire. Then I’m also putting together a project called ‘Butterfly’ with Candice Nechitch about a young girl who dreams of going to school but because she is a Rom she doesn’t have access until she meets an unhappy lawyer who helps her. I also have a film I’m going to act in with Delphine Poudou, called ‘Alice & Jo’ written by Flavie Péan and directed by Alexandre Mehring, this is a love story between two women who learn how to death is part of life. And my 3rd short film The Wick, a period piece about witch hunts, produced and acted in by Michelle Coverley, has just started its festival cycle.

[MIS]   Any final thoughts at the end of this interview?

[Sabine] Yes, a big thank you !!! To you of course for this honor, and also to Eliza Calmat who told me to do O Wimbowé and to our post-production team (because they are so important too) Edouard Alvado (editor), Kim Marc-Huynh / Kame House Colour (color grade), Alexandre Oliver / Studio Dix Heure Dix (sound/mix/music) & Jonathan Lester (mastering, subtitles, and always there to help!). 

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