‘Fake Tattoos’ finds itself on this year’s Slamdance Festival slate
January 19, 2018
Canadian filmmaker Pascal Plante looked to his own youth while writing and directing the romantic comedy "Fake Tattoos."
The film, which is also known as "Les faux tatouages" in French, follows the relationship between Théo and Mag, who meet at a cafe after a punk rock concert.
"It's a tribute to my own teenage years and first love," Plante said during an interview. "I wanted to do a film about young love, but have it anchored in contemporary society."
The relationship between Théo and Mag seems doomed because of their pasts, but also because of their uncertain futures.
Plante took a risk in how he created the characters' story arcs.
"Good romantic comedies are rare to find, because they are in a somehow coded genre on which many of these films are cut and pasted," he said. "I like films where you kind of hang out with the characters in an almost chaotic approach."
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"It's like riding a roller coaster and the characters are the drivers," Plante said. "If you love the characters, you will go wherever they want you to go."
The filmmaker also enjoys setting stories within stories.
"I like when you create an arc that has a relationship to a larger arc that takes you off guard to your relationship to time," he said. "So we did all of that, and we took that character-driven approach and betted on creating these lovable, yet flawed, characters."
Plante relied on the actors – Anthony Therrien, who portrays Théo, and Rose-Marie Perreault, who portrays Mag – so he could, as a filmmaker, get away with filming in an undisciplined narrative structure.
"We had an intense and inclusive casting process, and I think this is the one moment where you have to be extra picky, because then your life will be so much easier on set," Plante said.
Therrien was cast first.
"I think we had a good idea of who Théo was, so we knew what we were looking for," Plante said. "Then we brought back our favorite six women for Mag, and had them do scenes with Anthony to see chemistry."
Therrien connected with Perreault immediately.
"He. I think, was impressed with her, and that impression needed to be there to help us believe in the romance and add to the narration," Plante said. "From this starting point things flew very naturally and we were able to portray the romance and actually improvise more than what was originally scripted."
Plante enjoyed watching the two actors work together to create different rhythms for each of their scenes.
"We ended up radically using long takes in the film," he said. "It wasn't because we wanted to show off. We just wanted to be devoted to the actors and characters."
The devotion to the characters and critical feedback helped Plante put Théo's backstory, which involves a tragic accident, into perspective.
"While things went smoothly, the one challenge we had the most trouble with was decided how much of the side story we needed to reveal and when to reveal it," he said. "We needed to find the right dose, because we didn't want it to become too melodramatic."
Plante did his own editing, but held many test screenings.
"I have a circle of friends who can be very direct with me," he said with a laugh. "The more comments we had regarding the side story was the it hijacked the story or it was too much."
The final cut understates the accident more than what was planned.
"That was important for me to create a more relatable film," Plante said. "There were talks about removing the backstory completely, but it still needed to be in there, but it was necessary for the story."
While Plante has been to Slamdance with three short films, "Fake Tattoos" is his first feature in the festival.
"That's a big step for me, although I have gotten used to the Slamdance crowd," he said.. "It's a crazy bunch."
"Fake Tattoos" will also have a European premiere at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival.
"Berlin was a big surprise," Plante said. "We submitted the film to a number of festivals and we found out in September we were preselected for the festival. I took that with a grain of salt because I didn't know how many films were in the short list. Then we heard the news in early December."