Meeting with Guillaume Lambert, director and screenwriter of the comedy-drama “Niagara” (Quebec)

Actor, screenwriter and director, Guillaume Lambert is a multi-talented artist. With two feature films to his credit, the Canadian actor met Liège audiences at the FIFCL, where he presented his latest comedy-drama “Niagara” at a special screening.

Do you currently feel more like an actor, director or screenwriter?

Basically, I’m an actor, and I’m an actor who decided to write his first screenplays. Then I became a screenwriter who decided to direct his first films. So I’m all that, I’m an artist, a filmmaker.

Do you like to wear many hats?

Yes, no two projects are alike. I’d say I love to play other people’s stuff, I love to write my own stuff and write for other people, but I don’t think I could do other people’s stuff. I think that in the end, directing is perhaps my most intimate gesture.

Between “Les scènes fortuites” and “Niagara”, which was harder to make?

All films are difficult to make, but I would say that the challenge with “Les scènes fortuites” was obviously the budget, because it was a micro-budget of barely one hundred thousand Canadian dollars, which is very little. Then there was the whole adventure of discovering this profession. And then with “Niagara”, there were several issues, there was obviously the budget, it’s a film with a bigger budget of course, there was the pandemic, there were the postponements of shooting due to the pandemic, there are all the logistics due to the pandemic. Niagara is a real movie, but it was also a real movie to make, like all movies, I think. Each film has its own adventure, each film has its own path, and that’s what makes them such extraordinary human adventures.

How do you feel when you have to juggle several roles on a shoot? several hats?

Joy, excitement, feverishness.

Is it really what drives you to wear all those hats?

In fact, it’s a question of freedom: it allows me to make a much freer gesture in the work as a whole, and sometimes it also allows me to play with my own idolized actors, to whom I’ve offered a role. It’s really a great experience. In “Niagara”, for example, I had an emotional scene to perform, and we had very little time to do it because the weather wasn’t on our side, but Guy Jodoin, whom I’d already been directing for ten days or so, helped me a lot with that scene. At the end of the day, it’s all about collaboration. The director’s job isn’t necessarily that of orchestra conductor, it’s the one who distributes tasks and allows people to collaborate with each other and bring different artists together.

In connection with your latest film “Niagara”, it’s often said that you have to hit rock bottom to bounce back. Do you think this phrase echoes your film?

Niagara’s main theme is falling. It starts on the bridge at the top of Montmorency Falls in Quebec and ends at Niagara Falls, so it’s from one waterfall to the next. It’s the story of a character who falls, a character who is depressed, but a character who falls only to rise again. So, yes, in a way, you have to hit rock bottom to get back on your feet. Everyone’s at the bottom of the barrel, I think, but yes, the beauty of the fall is the act of getting back up again.

By Nora Staelens

Valentin Conraads