Fauve, a film produced by Old Boy Evren Boisjoli 2008, has been nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Live-Action Short, it was announced Jan. 22.
Directed by Jeremy Comte and produced by Evren and Maria Gracia Turgeon, and shot at a surface mine near Thetford Mines, Quebec, the film tells the story of two boys engaged in a playful battle of wills that gets out of hand.
Fauve is not the first film made by Evren. This is not the first time he’s won a major award for his work. Fauve won the special jury award for live action short films at the Sundance Film Festival last year. But this is the top of the heap. The Academy Awards. The Oscars. How on earth did this happen?
The film began as the brainchild of Comte, a filmmaker from Sherbrooke who based the story on his own childhood. “Jeremy did a lot of research into boys of that age and how they are becoming much stronger and much more able, but the part of their brain that develops last is this ability to understand consequence,” explains Evren.
“Jeremy wrote the story but he worked with the actors to build the dialogue in order to make it more realistic. All the swearing, the en région language, that’s just the way these kids talk. We wanted them to feel free.”
The location is almost one of the characters in the piece. “We drove eight hours a day on Google Earth, scouting the location, jumping from one to the next,” Evren recalls. They settled on a decommissioned surface mine that was still being used as a quarry.
“The mine is a man-made mess, but ultimately it’s Nature that claims the boys, and it’s their own nature, as well, that led them to the point.”
The title refers to a wildcat or a savage animal, but it also refers to the Fauvist art movement, as well as to the colour of a fox that appears in the film. A lot of the meaning—including the title—is deeper in French, Evren says. “The visual language is very, very specific.”
Jeremy and Evren went to the mine site a few days before shooting and lived in a little camper van and worked out a detailed plan for the shots.
In casting the main characters, they first auditioned boys from Montreal, but found it didn’t feel right, so they went with local boys. “They’re a little more physical, a bit rougher. We would take these kids out and they would go out in the water and the water would go into their boots—it was an absolute mess. But the parents didn’t mind; they were used to it.” Being from Sherbrooke, Jeremy was looking to recreate the vibe he remembers from his boyhood.
“We had a fantastic director of photography named Olivier Gossot. I think his last three films were at Cannes. His career is still exploding. There’s a lot of work put into that. It’s certainly not by accident. Jeremy was really adamant about going to get the best colour, so he ended up flying to Chicago to work with one of the top colourists with a company called The Mill.”
“We won an award at one of every two festivals we attended. Over 125 festivals and Over 65 awards, seven of them Oscar-qualifying. An unheard-of number.
“We made the decision (to take a run at the Oscars) because we had this epic publicist, Kathleen McInnes, at Sundance who has followed us through our entire journey. She believed in the project since day one. She asked us: ‘You guys are doing very well with this film, and you just won the Special Jury Prize, so now you have to decide: Do you want an Oscar, do you just want to make your next feature, or do you want to make money with this film, because those are three separate paths that might not lead you to the same festivals.’”
“We all three simultaneously said, ‘We’re going to the Oscars.’ So we knocked ourselves out getting every grand prize that earned us points toward an Oscar.
Out of thousands of short films made each year, 100 to 140 apply for an Oscar, Evren estimates. That number is whittled down to a shortlist of 10, then down to five actual nominees.
“This film somehow cuts through,” says Evren. “I don’t fully understand the magic, but it has cut through everything.”
We’re Still Together, a short film Evren produced, that received a rave response at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Prague in 2016. An IndieWire reviewer described the film as “a smart and sensitive micro-budget drama” that “muscles its way above the masses on the strength of its unpredictability.” One of his producers on We’re Still Together was Marley Sniatowsky 2007.
In 2015, Evren and Nicholas Cabana 2006 teamed up to produce a music video for the DJ/producer Kaytranada entitled “Lite Spots.” The video garnered numerous awards and nominations, including a Much Music Video Award nomination for Best Music Video and a nomination for Best Dance Music Video at the UK Music Video Awards. It was also named No. 2 Music Video of the Year in Rolling Stone magazine, and was nominated for the Young Director Awards at the Cannes Lions Festival. The clip was nominated for Best Music Video at the 2017 Junos. The album on which the song appears won the Juno for Electronic Album of the Year.
Evren and Jeremy are currently working on a full-length live-action feature film that he describes as a coming-of-age story that parallels the adventures of a young man in Ghana with those of a young man in Quebec.
“I was lucky enough to find my passion for film as early as Middle School,” says Evren. “The support we received from Selwyn House and, most notably, Bill Bedard, shaped our futures. His continued support through high school and after has propelled me into the film world with confidence. The opportunities and skills that Bill and Selwyn House taught me had a direct impact on much of the success I achieved at such a young age.”