“Beau Is Afraid”: the Quebec experience at the service of American filmmaker Ari Aster

“Beau Is Afraid”: the Quebec experience at the service of American filmmaker Ari Aster”

Joaquin Phoenix in Beau is Afraid

Beau Is Afraid, the new film by renowned American filmmaker Ari Aster, was shot in Montreal and Saint-Bruno in the summer of 2021 On the eve of its theatrical release, Métro spoke with two of its artisans, members of a mostly Quebec team. 

At the film's Montreal premiere April 18 at the Imperial, director Ari Aster, who has quickly become a fixture in contemporary genre cinema with Hereditaryand Midsommar, said having had a wonderful experience with the Montreal team, which was able to support him throughout the production, each time he hit a wall.

It's because Beau Is Afraid couldn't have been an easy film to conceive as it is original, bursting, abundant and, all in all, quite crazy. 

Without going into detail, since the three-hour-plus film is hard to describe anyway, let's just say it's a nightmarish epic about a paranoid man, played by Joaquin Phoenix, who tries to find his mother.  

“Beau Is Afraid”: the Quebec experience at the service of American filmmaker Ari Aster”

Joaquin Phoenix and Ari Aster during filming in Montreal

Matching Ari Aster's Vision 

David Gaucher acted as art department supervisor on the film. He entrusts to Metrohaving been seduced by the original scenario which is completely different from the preformatted ones of the productions on which he is used to working, which allowed him to see all sorts of unpublished phantasmagoria.  

Put his expertise to the benefit of a brain as creative as that of Ari Aster was a very stimulating experience for him, he says. But it was not without challenge…  

For example, finding the right house to shoot a sequence of Beau Is Afraidwas quite a feat. “Ari Aster has a very specific idea of ​​what he wants, what he imagines in his head, his shots, his camera angles, etc., and this, regardless of the location one finds or not. You have to find the rental that will marry what he has in mind. It was demanding for the team, because he was very fixed on his idea. »

All the team's proposals were rejected until, finally, a house was found with an architectural style that was perfect according to the filmmaker's criteria, but less satisfactory for the imagined camera shots. At that moment, Ari Aster accepted the house and was inspired by it to adapt, says David Gaucher. 

Keep the fil 

As a scriptwriter on the feature film, Elizabeth Tremblay had to make sure that everything was always connected, always consistent. She, too, had a rich and challenging experience. 

“It's a very complicated scenario. Just understanding the story itself was a challenge”, says the one who has to understand everything to ensure that there is no continuity error.  

Let's add to her task that the filmmaker, whom she describes as someone very visual and thoughtful, hid all sorts of details throughout the film, to the point where one could watch it 15 times and still discover new ones.   

Fortunately, she says, even though he was asking, Ari Aster turned out to be “one silk, one love”. 

“Beau Is Afraid”: the Quebec experience at the service of American filmmaker Ari Aster”

Ari Aster during filming

An experienced team 

Beau Is Afraidis far from being the first American production shot in Montreal. Both David Gaucher and Elizabeth Tremblay are people used to this kind of production.  

“It’s been done for a very long time. We have developed an experience in Montreal that is recognized in Los Angeles,” explains David Gaucher.  

Montrealers working on American films have thus become like a small family.&nbsp ;

“I was with all my friends, it was a team I often work with,” adds Elizabeth Tremblay. 

Experience and team spirit which charmed the filmmaker, who insisted on coming to present the film in person in Montreal to thank the entire team.

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