In a recent interview with Gabriel Galand, we have discussed his passion for horror movies, what inspired him to make his film, “Horla”, and any challenges he faced while in the process of the creation.
What inspired you to produce this age old horror: Horla? Are you a fan of Guy De Maupassant?
I’ve been a fan of nineteenth century fantastic literature for as far as I can remember, from Edgar Allan Poe in the US, to Robert Louis Stevenson in the UK and Guy de Maupassant in France. I’m fascinated by their ability to mix realism with fantasy, something that works well on screen too! I chose to produce Horla in particular because of its suspense and how the story evolved around one central location.
Bringing a short story to life is not easy. Could you tell us about your creative direction?
My wish was to establish a fresh visual style whilst still remaining in the realms of 19th century etiquette so there was an extensive amount of research done in pre-production. The production designer, Laura Katz, joined the project early and we spent time together just imagining how it
would look and browsing antiquités around France.
The film is lush with furniture and decor from the 19th century. Where did you find such a beautiful venue?
We’d been looking for the perfect location for a few months but we hadn’t found any that even remotely fit in our budget; when the production designer found a 19th century mansion she felt she could work with. We had agreed previously on the color palette and the style we were going for and I trusted her to bring all the rest, which she did!
The cinematography was brilliant in Horla. How did you capture the eerie suspense in your film?
Maria Lis, the director of photography, was always adamant about wanting to work alongside the production designer and myself so that the three of us would know exactly where the others were heading image-wise. In particular, we all agreed that we wanted to make a period with a modern touch, and we knew we could achieve that with our use of color, the art and of course the lighting. I am very fond of artificial lighting and how it can affect the mood, by using odd sources of lights and shaping them differently. For instance, the director of photography built a few scary-looking cookies in pre-production just for certain scenes of the film.
What started you in making horror films?
I love the aesthetics of horror films. There are many types of horror but what I have always liked is films that have a defined visual style, such as The Ring or The Antichrist. There is a certain aura about these films whereby on the first frame you see, you start feeling uncomfortable, all because of the care and the time it took to create it. Or for instance, when I see a night scene that doesn’t look like crap, I know it’s a horror film.
What are the difficulties in creating a period film?
The most evident one is budget but it’s not always a constraint. It’s important to know straightaway what we will be able to achieve and what is off the table from the start. It’s also crucial to decide whether we will stick to the science of an era (historical or futuristic) or decide to invent a whole new world. Both ways are quite challenging but eventually I would say it pays off!
What advice could you give young film makers trying to adapt literature to film?
To make an adaptation successful, I’d recommend forging your own idea of the story because that interpretation will help you transform the piece into a screenplay. In my case, the screenwriter and I struggled with the original structure of the story because we didn’t imagine it would work well as a flashback film. Since most of the diary entries in “Le Horla” are juxtapositions of suppositions and ideas, visually, the lack of action would kill the suspense.
If you are interesting in previewing this film, you can click on this link to watch, trust us, it’s really good! https://vimeo.com/ondemand/horla.