Orphyr Short Film Interview with Director Jonathan Degrelle


Orphyr Short Film Interview with Director Jonathan Degrelle

The world of short films is a pretty small ecosystem. Case in point, Jonathan and his team contacted me the other day because of a few connections I had with a couple of other films that we both enjoyed. You like this, you mike like that. We enjoyed this movie, hey, you might adore this film! hahah.

The movie that was recommended was called Orphyr – and after seeing the movie in question I was pretty excited about Jonathan and his future in the short film world. And I was even more excited that he was open to having a conversation about his movie and also the current project he is working on in post-production. But first, I give you Orphyr:

Orphyr (English Subtitles) from Jonathan Degrelle on Vimeo.

THinc. – Being an American, I have very little exposure to old mythologies and stories – is the story of Orphyr an old story? Or was it something that you wrote to look like it was an old fable?

Jonathan – Orphyr is not an original story. Indeed, Orphyr’story came from a book name “The Green Lady’s Tales” writen by Jean Le Mauve, a tales’ writer from north of France. The book is not very famous here. It’s Anne Bruneau, who produced the film, and is the one that gave me the book when I was looking for a new idea for directing a short film. I immediately liked the book and wanted to make a movie out of the story. It had all the ingredients I loved for a children’s movie: nice characters, beautiful places and of course a really good storytelling which had good feelings, emotions and a wonderful and happy ending. I changed some details fom the book for giving to it more depth: i added two new characters at the story: Orphyr’s wife named Uranie, and Leurluque, who work with the bistro’s owner play by Corinne Masiero. So i did a real work of adaptation of the story, not only filming the book words by words.


THinc. – Orphyr seems to communicate the simple message that being pure of heart, and being compassionate, is more important than anything else. And if we are good, in spite of our naivety, we will be rewarded for this goodness. Is that what your film is saying? Is there something that I am missing here?

Jonathan – I wanted to communicate some universal messages in this movie. Indeed, being pure of heart and being compassionate are some of this messages we can see here. The movie was made for children, so that’s why i wanted to have positive feelings when they see it. For me, the principal purpose of the movie is to show we must never grow up. We must keep our child-like soul and always  continue to dream. Without dreams, I think we are dying. So for me, the character of Orphyr, in his head, is always a child. I think not losing our childhood is the key to happiness. In our artistic job, imagination and an open mind are very important. And I tried to give Orphyr all these ingredients.

THinc. – The little towns that you filmed in and the old houses that you set your story in were perfectly selected! Were these sets built? Or did you scout these locations? Europe definitely offers enormous choices that American filming does not!

Jonathan – It was difficult to find the set of the movie. The movie’s budget did not allow to buillt an entiere village. So the producer and i took our car and traveled in all the North of France during 3 days. After many researches, we find this little village name “Brie” in Picardie, a place from the north of France. The mayor of this little town and all the residents were very happy to welcome the shooting on there village. To thank them, I wanted to see them in the movie. It’s funny to see all of them in the final scene of Orphyr: they play the village’s inhabitants. It was way of thanking them for their help and their generosity. We was very lucky to find such a nice village like that. All the movie’s crew were sleeping and living in village throughout the shooting. It was like sharing a holiday with friends. But holidays where you are making a film!!

THinc. – That is amazing. Its such a gorgeous little town. Now I want to get back to France just to visit this town! How amazing is that?! Only in Europe. Reminds me of an interview I did Einar Kuusk where he found all these amazing natural locations for his post-apocolyptic movie. Europe offers such a great breadth of possibilities it seems.

Orphyr really had a great tour of the big film festivals – what was it like, and what were you able to learn by doing such an enormous film festival run?

Jonathan – Attending festivals is such a good experience. We can see a big part of the worlwide short film production. The quality of many films in some festivals are very impressive and give me a boost to make new movies and to be better in my creation and my job as a filmmaker. So I learn so much by watching movies at the festivals, and of course, generally, when I see movies in cinema theaters. Seeing a good film is always for me a good school, I learn many things. Seeing a good movie is better than any possible cinematographic schooling, from my point of view.

With the festivals, I also could meet many professionals: producers, directors, actors, or fx supervisor… And my movie won a prize for the music, which I was very happy about.

Orphyr did about 33 festivals before I put it online in 2015. The movie was also screened two times at the Belgium’s television and it also found a distributor. I was very surprised and happy to see my first short film having a life after the post production. It was a great honnor to share it with many people. The purpose of a movie is to be seen, and I hope this purpose is reached here.


THinc. – That totally makes sense to me. How did you finance the film? And do you have any plans to create another short film in the future? And will you finance it the same way if you do?

Orphyr was produced by a french association of production name “La Fabrique”, from the north of France. I also had two other financial investments from my home region which helped very much. Everybody that worked on this movie volunteered. But I wanted to produce this film like a real feature film for showing to people what I was capable of. There were about 30 people on the set every day. And the shooting took about two weeks.

Currently, I am developing a new short film project called “Transfert”. I already shot it in July 2015 and it is actually in post-production right now. Transfert is a different style of movie. It’s a tribute to the adventure films of the 80s like “Back to the future”, or “Indiana Jones”. Transfert is about time travel and nazis! So its nothing like Orphyr but I wanted to show to people an another side of my work. I produced and fincance Transfert in the same way we financed Orphyr. But on the set we were very much: about 45 people every day. And I was very happy to direct Vernon Dobtcheff, who played in “Indiana Jones and the last crusade”, and “James bond”. He is such great actor who accept to work with a young director like me: it’s a veritable honor.

THinc. – That is really an awesome sounding film that you are making Jonathan! Really looks like it will be a lot of fun. Make sure you yell once its completed.

Thanks so much Jonathan for taking time out from your busy schedule to tell us about your film Orphyr. It really was a fun little film. And thanks for letting me participate in the English Sub-titles. That was pretty amazing to see you let me jump in so openly.