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Faces of the Festival: Olivier Dahan

The stars of My Own Love Song, Renee Zellweger and Forest Whitaker, are both expected on the red carpet at BMCC TPAC. Bonus? Bob Dylan wrote the score! Meet the director here, and join us tonight!

Olivier Dahan: My Own Love Song Tell us a little about My Own Love Song.
Olivier Dahan: My Own Love Song is about two friends who met in the hospital way before the movie starts. The woman (Renee Zellweger) has a child she hasn’t seen in seven years, and she goes on a road trip with her friend (Forest Whitaker) to find the kid again. I wanted to make a simple story about two people traveling together who help each other recover not only their normalcy, but their dignity. What inspired you to tell this story?


OD: When I wrote the movie two years ago, I started out wanting to talk about physical handicaps, but during the writing process, I thought to also speak about psychological handicap, emotional handicap—all kinds, really. I wanted to make a movie that was a bit naïve about disability, but also a little optimistic at the same time.
Another impulse that gave me an impulse to write was the music—the fact that Renee’s character had once been a singer. How did you cast the film? Two Academy Award® winners!
OD: I knew Forest before—we had hung around a bit together in LA. I stopped by to talk to him about this little story idea I had, and he pushed me to write. (I don’t like to write, actually.) So he was the first on board. And then Renee—I was looking for the lead actress, and when we met for the first time in Paris, we had a very good feeling.
My Own Love Song What's the craziest thing (or "lightning strikes" moment) that happened while making the film?
OD: The whole 40 days of shooting were a little bit like that—it was unexpected most of the time! But one night we shot in the middle of nowhere in the south of Louisiana. We were in an open field at night, and the fog rolled in and completely misted us over. We had to stop shooting, but we stayed together for a while—the actors and everyone—and just looked at each other. It was so bizarre and the light was so magical. What’s the biggest thing you learned while making My Own Love Song?


OD: If I take just one point out a hundred, I would say I think I learned a lot about actors. The relationship between the actors and the director and what they do together—that’s the point for me. I wanted to work with Forest and Renee and the whole cast, and I learned a lot from how the two of them worked together and with me. What's your advice for aspiring filmmakers?


OD: It’s a difficult process, but the first thing is to write. Even if I don’t like writing, the point is not to start with thinking of it as a picture. Start with the content—not even the story—and once you find out what you want to say, then you start to think about the picture and the visual aspects of it. I am pretty visual, but it can be a danger to think visually first. Think about the content, and then you will find the form. If you could have dinner with any filmmaker (alive or dead), who would it be?


OD: Alive it would be Francis Ford Coppola. And dead would be William Wyler. What would your biopic be called?
OD: I made one biopic, and I’ve tried not to do it anymore. So hopefully there will not be a biopic about me. What makes My Own Love Song a Tribeca must-see?
OD: It’s my first time at Tribeca, but I am sure audiences will want to listen to the songs of Bob Dylan, who wrote the score. That alone makes it a must-see.


Tickets are still available for My Own Love Song tonight!


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