Field Notes: An interview with Romain Leclerc

Filmmaker, Romain Leclerc gets right to the point in everything he does. He's mastered the art of telling a compelling story in distilled form.

Working a lot with photographic storytelling through Instagram, Leclerc's films carry the same dreamy and immersive qualities as his photos. Originally from France, Romain's sense of home is on the open road continuously documenting moments of travel and the company he keeps. Empowered and poetic, Romain's work sticks with you.

One of the most striking elements of Leclerc's work is the indelible mood he leaves the audience with.  In what's become one of our most inspiring interviews yet, Romain gave insight into his interpersonal philosophy of his life as a filmmaker, photographer and storyteller. Enjoy.


M: When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?

RL: I started filming and having fun with a camera when I was a kid, my father had a mini dv camera that he used to take on holidays. I remember making my first stop motions things and using the night vision mode to make a cool effects for fight scenes with my friends.

At 14 years old I started riding bmx bikes. Same year, my father bought a Sony HDSR7 and I could export videos on our family computer at this time.  Bmx is like skateboard, it’s a sport where you make pictures and it came naturally to film my friends.I started filming my friends, making web videos…

Later, it appeared that I had pretty cool renders, and it was confirmed when I started being featured on the web with BMX videos. Film making was at this time just for fun, it became a professional activity when I started selling travel videos a couple of years ago. I’ve been focusing on film making ever since.

M: What's your favorite moment in filmmaking?

RL: For the moment, most of my films are reports. I’m on place, something is happening and I’ve to shoot it and tell the story with no staging. When you document something, most of what’s unfolding if front of the lens isn’t going to happen twice. So when you capture something that is exactly what you’re expecting, at this moment it’s just true satisfaction because it’s going to lead to pleasure at editing time.

M: What do you think defines a filmmakers' "voice"?

RL: The way you put everything together, which tunes you pick, what audio design, framings, the rhythm of your montage, all these choices define what’s a filmmaker’s voice to me. I’m a music lover. I like when there is an intentional transgression, when it’s different, when it steps out of the normal codes of film making and when I see something that I’ve not seen before.

M: When do you know you found the right mood for your projects?

RL: It’s the music that tells the mood. Do the exercise, film something, edit it over a song, and change the track at the end. You would be very surprised how it totally changes the mood and how sometimes… It works! From a track to another it’s going to transmit a totally different message. So to me, the mood is established when the audio is selected. 

M: Do you usually have a clear vision in mind? Or do you allow things to unfold while you filmed?

RL: It depends on the project, especially when reporting, it’s actually hard to anticipate all that can happen in the shooting. Even if I had a crystal clear vision of what I wanted, it already happened that I took a totally different direction while shooting. At this moment you just need to trust your inspiration…

M: Favorite moment off the screen?

RL: I’m independent, I make films alone and satisfaction is such a thing when a project is wrapped. It’s another accomplishment, and from this moment it’s just going to bring pleasure. So basically I’d say that my favorite moments are when the shooting has not started yet, because it’s all about exciting ideas, conceptualization is such a fun part, and when it’s wrapped, because of the cool feedbacks and the new opportunities a finished project is bringing.

M: Are there any happy accidents on any given project?

RL: Shooting documentary is all about generating happy accidents. It happens a lot that the most unexpected shots are the most useful to tell the story.

M: What role do you feel music has in film?

RL: To me, audio is 70% of a film. A modest film with many flaws but with a great audio design is going to have way more effect on me than an epic movie with the expected many-times-heard soundtrack. Recently a friend of mine came back from her journey in Asia, she filmed many things with her hand held go pro. She showed a lot of taste putting everything together, and the way she told her story with absolutely no means other than the soundtrack was the best example I can give to express how music is important in a film.

M: When did you know that you had the right soundtrack? What direction are you going with when looking for music?

RL: When you’re filming, the scenery is already whispering what should be the soundtrack. When I filmed something without knowing the soundtrack, I re watch all my cuts & it helps a lot to decide if I want something that’s colorful & energetic or more moody, spiritual and minimalist… 

M: How do you feel music is misused in projects?

RL: There’s no rule in editing or in story telling. Following the guidelines is a good way to do things right, but it’s also the best way to make a video that won’t be remarkable. I like transgression in the visuals. You can use an awful music but if it’s on purpose it totally makes sense, I love when the images and the music are flirting with the limit of rules of aesthetic, but when it’s totally controlled;  there is no misuse of music to me. I just don’t like when someone puts a lot of efforts in his work to make it awesome, and the music is just meh. 

M: What's coming up?

RL: I plan to keep on working with tourism boards, I also would like to make music videos this year. I always wanted to do that and it’s a perfect way to let creativity talk in my opinion. I’m going to grab some new gear anytime soon and it will open the doors of things I’ll be able to do. Can’t wait to have it and start playing with it!


Here's your challenge: Share your short film to sharing@marmosetmusic.com and we'll choose our favorite to feature on the blog next week. The winner will be awarded with these awesome gifts. Who doesn't like incense? Looking forward to hearing from you!