The Beating Hearts Chronicles
Discover the first season of Germain le Carpentier’s mumblecore web-series “The Beating Hearts Chronicles” produced by AG studios in collaboration with Arsonists production.
Stream it for free on AG Studios Youtube platform and learn a bit more about the creation of TBHC through a quick conversation with Germain.
A quick interview about The Beating Hearts Chronicles
What inspired this web series?
Meetings… A desire to share experiences through several voices and cultures. I’ve enjoyed travelling for several years, and I wanted to share these experiences through a series of stories where characters live a decisive moment in their lives.
My meeting with Christine Caro (Arsonist’s Films) and Milan Odin (AG Studios / Avant-Garde) really triggered this wild, intense and immersive series. I was lucky to have their support throughout this project.
The series has a unique voice. How do you pitch a project like this and what were your constraints?
The main idea was simple; film immediately and quickly with a very small scenario that none of the actors and actresses will read. They were guided by the ideas of the story, told orally by the director and had the liberty to improvise a lot which gives the series a more realistic feeling.
The mixing of cultures and languages as if we were in real life was an interesting idea as well, and not adding subtitles gives the audience that immersive feeling. It’s as if you are initiating yourself into the intimate life of someone whose mother tongue is different than yours, which bring a certain mystery or curiosity.
Of the seven languages I heard, I really only understood two of them – English and French.
It’s interesting to realize that each language has its own melody and rythm, and that by listening to it carefully, you can recognize a few notes and make something out of it.
There were no constraints with The Beating Hearts Chronicles we tried to be as free as we could so that each person watching is free to have its own understanding of the stories.I myself am the first spectator.
To sum it up i think the only limit we set for ourselves was to remain a “mumblecore” project.
The photo has a specific style even if each episode is different, the camera is often close to the characters with very little depth of field. Why this aesthetic choice?
It’s an aesthetic and also a budget choice.. To tell you the truth, it’s quite classic in independent cinema to have a camera that shoots with little depth of field to hide its low or nonexistent scenic design.
On the other hand, I chose to shoot most of the episodes with an 85 MM focal length, to give the project a regular style and to be close to the bodies and emotions.
Even though there were different, we tried to keep a certain harmony between all the episodes while giving each cinematographer a bit of freedom on the focal length or camera choices.
The series is also written & directed by Mehdi Meskar, who directs you in his episode…
It wasn’t planned that I play an important character in the series. It was Mehdi’s idea, who came up very early on the project playing in chapters II and III. We had talk about him directing an episode which at first was supposed to be in Berlin because Mehdi knows the city well, and also speaks German fluently, but in the end, we chose Brussels and the Belgian Ardennes.
From then on, I let Mehdi write his script and choose his characters, with some recommendations that I had given him. We went with a small team for a few days in Belgium, and we let ourselves be taken by the love story that Mehdi wanted to capture.
Is it a choice to have also been the editor and director of photography on the series?
Yes and no. I would never claim to be a “director of photography” that’s why I also entrusted the light to Chloé Bouhon for the Paris and Belgium’s episode. Laetitia de Montalembert was also part of the team for the last episode, which was shot in Ibiza.
I was happy to be the one who created all the visual space, and above all, the one framing, but I was equally happy to sometimes entrust the camera and the light to a third person. For example, I would never have been able to light the last scene of the Paris episode, in the car – it was Chloé Bouhon who in no time at all came up with the incredible lighting solution.
I have a lot of admiration for the directors of photography with whom we worked on this series.
For the editing, it’s a little bit the same except that I’ve edited several projects in the past, so I have a special relationship with the editing process.
TBHC is very personal to me, and since there was no real script and no script report, it seemed unimaginable for someone who hadn’t seen anything before, to edit it. So after I put together the first cuts of each episodes I collaborated with Alexandre Funel, who, among other things, edited a lot of documentaries, and quickly took ownership of the project.
Lesly Lynch, a videographer that I knew in New York participated in the editing of some dialogue scenes and the last episode was re-edited by Ariane Boukerche, a talented editor, who managed to give a real meaning to the story and thus to really make it her own. Alexandre Felipe Jeannin re-edited most of the episodes with me to give its last and final cut.
I was very lucky to have this team for the image editing.
What were your references for TBHC?
First the John Cassavetes movies like The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and A Woman Under Influence. I remember talking about this last film with Chloé Bouhon, especially about the staging and the setting of a lunch scene. The Safdie Brother may have been my biggest inspiration. I also think that my friends Lola Bessis and Ruben Amar inspired me a lot with their movie Swim Little Fish Swim, and they gave me a lot of advice before I arrived in New York.
I can also mention “The OA” which I think touches perfection, the films of Andrea Arnold and Kelly Reichardt.
Anything else we need to know?
Let’s create while we can create. And let us continue to make what animates us exist. Don’t forget one important thing, love as much as you can, it inspires and transports you!