Meet Indie Filmmaker: CHAMBRE 212

Our favourite superhero takes on a new dimension in this short film from director Hadrien Soulez Lariviere. A Parisian call-girl is summoned to Room 212 of a hotel where she is faced with a rather unusual client, whose sexual fantasy doesn’t quite conform to the normal..

By Mairi Cunningham

Q: Firstly, when watching the scene of the escort girl walking the hotel corridors, it immediately made me the think of the iconic shots in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining when the character Danny Torrance peddles down the corridor on his tricycle. Is this what you were going for when you created this scene?

The idea was to immerse the viewer in an unsettling atmosphere in order to raise the tension and surprise them when they discover the real nature of the fantasy that the client in room 212 has..Perhaps I was influenced subconsciously by The Shining , perhaps also by David Lynch who uses shots of unsettling corridors in some of his films.

Q: What would you say are your major film influences? Is there a particular filmmaker you are inspired by?

I m a great cinema enthusiast. I love Peter Weir, Billy Wilder, Paul Verhoven, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, Robert Aldrich, Georges Steven, Ridley Scott and I could go on!

Q: I m intrigued to learn more about the inspiration behind your film. Can you tell me a bit about where your idea for the story came from?

The basis for the film came from a story found in a newspaper: Wednesday 18th March, during the course of an erotic game, after tying his 26 year old employee to the bed, a bank manager from Sienna, dressed as Batman, climbed onto a chest of drawers, caught his feet in his cape, lost his balance and fell to the floor. Firemen untied the prisoner and the man in his fifties was taken to hospital for treatment. At the same as I was hearing about these dressing up fantasies, I met two escort girls who spoke to me a bit about their lives. That inspired me to convey in a very concentrated way their point of view: the wait which is both exciting and unsettling before the client reveals exactly what he desires, these men s fantasies which are so eccentric and outlandish that sex isn’t even present, the pleasure of earning a huge sum of money in a very short space of time, and the anxiety which must follow (although they did not talk about this element, it was me who imagined it).This was therefore how the film emerged.

Q: Is there any particular significance in the choice of superhero?

Batman is the superhero who most often appears in erotic games, because of the S&M dimension of his character.

Q: What genre would you say your film falls under?

Short films enable the director to experiment. In this instance, I had a great time experimenting with the genres of the film: almost every sequence belongs to a different genre for example thriller, comedy, burlesque, fantasy, and horror.

Q: How long did the filming process take and did you encounter any difficulties on the way?

The film was shot in 2 days: one day for the scenes in the hotel and one day for the scenes in the apartment. The whole shoot went very well.

Q: Your actors successfully manage to capture the humour of the situation without going beyond into the farcical and ludicrous. Tell me what it was like working with your actors on set, and your job of directing them.

I met about twenty actresses to play the role of the escort girl. It was difficult, as the role required someone who was comfortable acting in their underwear. And of course it also required someone who saw the humour in the project. Once I had cast the role, the most difficult part was done. All I had to do was guide her on the shoot and listen to her suggestions. For the role of the man, first of all I had to find a Japanese actor -I should point out that the film was originally called L’Homme d’affaires japonais  [The Japanese Businessman] But, he pulled out two days before the shoot. I found Erwan at the last minute; however I am very happy with how it turned out. He is an acrobat, which explains the flexibility he demonstrates when he jumps about the place. Erwan is of Korean origin although he was born in France. He doesn’t speak Korean at all, so when he is supposedly speaking in his mother tongue, he actually had to learn his lines phonetically.

Q: The fantasy turns nightmarish and the film takes a somewhat violent turn and lots of objects are thrown around the room (irons, suitcases, clothes rails, dildos etc). Tell me a bit about this scene and how you went about shooting it.

I used a small, very versatile HD camera, without any added lights. The sex toys weren’t so easy to find. The huge dildo that Wioletta pulls out of the suitcase is transparent and coloured. I had a difficult job finding it; often dildos of this size are realistic and therefore quite sinister looking. The handcuffs are real and were bought in a sex shop; I ended up cutting off one of the links. There are lots of little objects which appear very briefly in the scene but which are quite amusing. The dildo which vibrates in the film didn’t actually vibrate enough in reality, so that is why a part of it is off screen. It was me who made it vibrate! For such a brief shot, we needed it to be exaggerated, almost cartoonlike! Similarly for the box of condoms which is scattered everywhere: there were 200 wrapped condoms in the box but they were all attached to each another. I had to painstakingly separate them one by one so that they could all fall out of the box in such a spectacular manner.

Q: Tell me a bit about the current projects you are working on.

I work as a script-writer. For more than a year, I have been working on the follow up to Mysterieuses cites d’or, a cult series from the 80s. I have also worked on fiction and animation series. Unfortunately I haven t had the time to work on any more short films since Chambre 212 but some things are in the pipeline. Take a look at my website www.soulez.com if you would like to find out more.

Q: And finally is there significance in the number 212?

The room where we filmed the scene was the actual Room 212 of the Hotel Concorde St Lazare. Since we didn’t really have permission to film in the corridor, it was preferable to shoot in front of the door to the room that we had hired. What s more, the number 212 was in fact perfect. It is neither a rounded number, nor a number with too strong a symbolic connotation like 5, 7 or 13. You can picture it as an anonymous room, exactly what we were looking for.

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