Best Shorts
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A Child of Light
A controversial short film about the struggle
between good and evil.

By Debbie L. Sklar

A Child of Light is a film that will leave you guessing from start to finish.

The short is a classic story of good versus evil, but in this case, a child of light versus a child of darkness by filmmaker Paul Verhoeven of Productions Forever, based in France. The story centers on “Lucas� and “Erwan,� and their time spent in a small home in a secluded area of France.

Verhoeven wore all of the hats in the making of this film from screenwriting to filming, sound, light, repetitions, setting, make-up, special effects, food, medical assistance, transport and even postproduction.

He also said the film comes from the heart and that it is a true story of what happened within his own family.

Verhoeven recently won an Award of Excellence for the film in the Best Shorts Competition.  

Q: Tell us more about how the short film evolved. Is the story based on friends or real life people? 

A: The young Lucas de Métairy belonged to my family. After his dramatic death in 1998 as young adult, a victim of extremists, I wrote a book about his four last days by the extremists. But, seeing that young people in France do not read books, and that the story of Lucas was comforting for some youths, I decided to make a film called For Eternity that sold in VHS.

Lucas' mother could not live more than two years after Lucas' death. Her house was then cleared of all things, by her family, to sell the house. So, they found a notebook of Lucas’ when he was 12, where he tells of his meeting with Erwan, whose parents left him alone to take a second honeymoon trip. This episode was a kind of premonition of his tragic end as young adult. I decided to make a feature film of that, in memory of Lucas, but also because it shows Lucas' spirit of sacrifice and that violence ends up backfiring on the authors, in this world or in the other. That's the special purpose of the film.

Q: Did you have any unusual difficulties during filming this?

A: The most difficulties came from the parents of the young actors; they remained in a holiday residence not far away, and they wanted the boys to spend more time with them than making the film. We could work only from 8 a.m. to noon and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There was a big problem with the mother of Sullivan, who played Erwan, and it was nearly the end of the filmmaking. Sullivan's mother was very jealous and could not support that the parents of Quentin (Lucas) would have a beautiful memory of their son at 12 (with the scenes in the raw), and that she would not have the same memory of their own son; so, she began to blame Quentin's parents for his nudity, and the filming atmosphere became very hard. I gathered the families for a strong explanation, where Sullivan's father toned down the criticisms of his wife.

Q: Advice to other newer filmmakers?

A: Never allow the families on or near the shooting. Fix the rules with the actors before signing a contract: Let them read the full script and tell them that nothing will be changed during the shooting because they have a problem with some scenes and that the director won’t change everything on demand. Have a reading test with the youths!

Q: Will winning an award from Best Shorts help promote the film? How so?

A: A prestigious award is a very good medium to turn the distributors and buyers' attention, and to professionals who are lost in the crowd of thousands of films without an award. When I receive the statuette, I will make a photo and send it with a press release by e-mail to the professionals of Cinando.

Q: How long did it take to make the film?

A: 10 (half) days.

Q: Where was it shot?

A: In Ardèche, in the South of France 

Q: What audience is the short suited for?

A: For young, bad acting people, families and teachers.

Q: Any bites yet from distributors?

A: None, I have not sent the information as I am waiting for the award to arrive from Best Shorts. 

Q: Is there a second part or next part already in the works?

A: A Child of Light is included in the first part of the great feature, Teenagers. After Lucas at 12, we see his last days as young adult in part two, and the story of the young Alexis, trying to live according to the generous philosophy of Lucas, in part three.

Q: Are you working on any new projects?

A: With $100,000 in debt, I have to first find a distributor, a buyer, or a sales agent for the existing films.

Q: Why was the first boy, Erwan, so angry? Was this all because his family left him behind to go on holiday?

A: Yes, his parents wanted to go on a second honeymoon trip, without their son, of course. He lived very badly and he wanted to take his revenge out on little Lucas, who accepted it because he understood that Erwan was unhappy.

Q: What was the best part of making this short?

A: When the filming was finished, and I made some tourist trips with Quentin, who came from Belgium and didn't know Provence or Ardèche.

Q: What might viewers be surprised to learn about the making of the film?

A: That Quentin (Lucas) was a very sound boy, without any complexes about showing his body and nudity. He also has a fabulous memory to learn lots of texts.

Q: Were these boys seasoned actors or first-timers?

A: Quentin was a first-timer, but a born actor. Sullivan (Erwan) had already played in theaters and TV sketches with professionals.

Q: Why was it necessary for us to see the blonde boy (Lucas) naked for most of the film? 

A: We didn’t have the right to change the story written by Lucas in his notebook. Erwan intended to humiliate the little Lucas, but at 12, Lucas took it easily, as he spent holidays in a naturist camp. At our birth, we don't wear clothes; it's a human invention in some countries. An unexpected consequence: I was told that by making those images common place, it can reduce the phantasms with sexual delinquents, seen that only what is hidden seems attractive. In Greystoke, the Legend of Tarzan, the young Tarzan was also without clothes.

Q: In the end, it is the classic case of good triumphs over evil?

A: Yes, we can see that every day that most of the time, evil wins. Also in the film, where Lucas was very near to death, the victim of evil emerged safe. In the end, it's not the "good" that wins; it's the kindness of Lucas that awoke the bit of kindness still remaining in Erwan. We may imagine what would have happened if the little Lucas had met Bin Laden.

Q: How does the title of the film tie in?

A: The explanation is in the last scene of the film, when Erwan remains alone and says for himself: "Yes, Lucas, we'll write to each other. A card at the New Year... But we won't see each other again… You are a child… a ‘Child of Light’… who illuminates and warms those you approach. While growing, you will perhaps become like me, a ‘Child of Darkness’… And that, I don't want to see it! I don't want to see it!"