Concern for capital Q Quality, with the dedication and chops to get it. And a fine documentary sensibility.
I live in a tiny village where everyone knows the colour of your pee. So the anonymity of the city is a big relief.
Your greatest achievement?
Professionally, to have done one of the first interviews with Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, on hubris and kitsch in the art and architecture of the Third Reich. Personally, I’m still not sure what I can claim.
Your biggest ambition?
To come out relatively unscathed, maybe even faintly shining, from the moment when my three young sons realize that their father is not a god. Actually, that was probably a good long while ago, and they’ve kindly kept it to themselves.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Gratitude. And a sportscar-sized bladder.
What does “great” look like?
The opening slow tracking shots through the installations of the artist Anselm Kiefer, in Sophie Fiennes’ luminous 2010 documentary, “Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow.” Antithesis to Albert Speer.
Share something no-one knows about you (until now!).
I was nearly in the cast of Hair.
What did you study at school and why?
French, and Political Science. I wanted to be like Pierre Trudeau.
What would you be doing if you didn’t work in production?
I’d either be Prime Minister of Canada, or a gas jockey in Rivière du Loup. But I love to teach.
What’s at stake for you in your work right now?
Can video truly touch the soul? It’s a serious question.
What are some of your favourite travel experiences?
Dancing at the foot of Mount Everest on my 40th birthday. Singing with a traditional men’s choir in the Republic of Georgia.
How do you find rejuvenation and balance?
Almost invariably, in a canoe.
What was your a-ha moment?
Realizing, after making my film Griefwalker that I really was going to die. And that it wasn’t a punishment for doing something wrong.
Title: Director, Cinematographer, Essayist. Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (my father’s favourite self description)
How you describe yourself: Middling to Fine Filmmaker. Great Bottle Washer. Barely Novice Cook.
How others describe you: Thoughtful. Deep. A tad Unkempt.
Years in the business: Well into the double digits .
Personal mantra: If virtuosity doesn’t move the heart, it goes at the head of the whole parade to dust. (A quote from the writer Eudora Welty.)
Most valued/valuable skill: Strong intuition.
Current work challenge: Deciding whether I want to go very high-def, or very low .
Languages: English, French, teenage slang (still learning), and a dash of Swiss German.