top of page

Writer/Actor/Director Q&A - Xavier Mussel (The Health Booklet)

Xavier Mussel's latest short film, 'The Health Booklet', in which he stars alongside his two sons, won the Audience Award at Sunday Shorts, London in March.

Xavier Mussel

Q: Where did the idea for your new short film 'The Health Booklet' originate?

A: The idea for 'The Health Booklet' arose from an absurd situation that I found myself, which plunged me into such despair. I told myself, I have to express my experience.

It was the only thing that I could do. "To make a movie as an act of life" said Tarkovski ... In the process of writing the film, I tried to focus on my point of view beyond the history of the situation, which is essentially trivial. In showing how in a situation of chaos, the members of a family find ways to invert the roles according to the situations. So, to show a father attempting to maintain his children in childhood, but he discovers that his two sons aren't children anymore.

Q: What is it like to act in your own film?

A: I prefer to act in films directed by someone else. When I was acting in my movie with my children, the boundaries between fiction and reality really blurred. There is a singular authenticity, a "real" life of the characters. And doubtless, unique, and inimitable by actors. I don’t mean to say that actors would not be capable of recreating it with the truthful intensity, but it would be less connected to real relationships. There is something unspeakable, totally impossible to recreate.

To write, act and direct, all of these are very different, yet at the same time they all come from the same creative source. As all of these complement each other, it just carries on.

Q: Why did you prefer to shoot in black and white?

A: For me, having the image in black and white makes it more real. It is very subjective. When I see a movie in colour, the bottom line is, I know that what I am seeing is fiction. The black and white persuades me that what I see is true. So in my short film, I desired to establish a visual, sensory contrast between the grown-up world in comparison to childhood.

Q: What do you think of French independent cinema at the moment?

A: I’m unfamiliar with the situation in other countries, especially concerning the level of accessibility of cinema for the young people. It seems to me that in France, there is culture and institutional politics who favour and encourage the film production. Besides, the democratisation of the means of manufacturing movies allow much more people to make them.

It is more and more possible to make short films without the money of the state, so it is good for independent filmmaking.

Q: Please tell us about what you're currently working on, or if you have any exciting plans for the future.

A: My ideal project remains to find the nirvana; as an actor, I want to live beautiful adventures with film-makers, to create new movies; as for directing, I always working on several projects.

'The Health Booklet' is still currently on it's festival run, however Xavier Mussel's previous film, 'The Communicator', can be watched here:

bottom of page