Many directors start a project and never get round to finishing it, but Olivier Assayas found, once he’d started writing his new film Non-Fiction, which received its Canadian premiere at TIFF, he could never get round to giving it up—even when he wanted to. Starring Guillaume Canet and Juliette Binoche, Non-Fiction concerns a book publisher whose star novelist seems to have lost the plot after handing in an unpublishable manuscript. Though light on plot, the film deals with many issues of the day, such as electronic publishing, piracy, pop culture, social media and teen literacy—topics the French director stopped at the Deadline studio to discuss.
“I had wanted for a while to make a movie about how the world is changing, seen from the angle of publishing,” he said. “This goes, like, way back. I hadn’t even written a screenplay then, but the idea stuck. And at some point [after writing the script] I said, ‘I have to get rid of this—I have to see if there’s a movie there or not,’ because I didn’t like the screenplay I’d written. So I decided to start from scratch and just try and write a scene. So I wrote one very long scene, which is the beginning of the film, and I had fun writing it but I had no idea if there was a movie in it. So I waited a couple more months and I had a second idea for a second scene. So I wrote that second scene, and so on and so forth.”
“It was like a two-year long process,” he continued. “And until I finished writing, I was not sure there was actually a movie there, because it was basically written as a series of dialogues and there was nothing very cinematic about it. [But] I thought that maybe the pleasure I had in writing it could translate in the work of the actors, and maybe it could turn into something that was a comedic way of dealing with serious issues.” Luckily, he soon had the affirmation he so sorely needed. “I gave it to the actors I wanted,” he smiled, “and all of them loved it.”
Find out more about Non-Fiction by clicking on the video above.