One To Watch: Muriel d’Ansembourg
Muriel d’Ansembourg lived in New York and Amsterdam before settling in London. The short films she wrote and directed during her studies at the London Film School have won numerous awards, and her graduation film, Good Night, received a BAFTA nomination. It is among the first batch of BAFTA nominated short films to receive a theatrical release within the UK. Muriel is currently writing her first feature length script whilst continuing to write and direct short films.
What training have you received?
Through a BA in screenwriting I learned how to turn my love of storytelling into a script. Later, during my MA in Directing at the London Film School I gained hands-on experience in making films, and the screenwriter in me came to understand that certain things might look great on paper but don’t always work when you’re shooting them. As a director I have come to find that rehearsing with actors can also be a great tool in writing.
What kind of projects attract you?
At this moment it’s powerful dramas that explore the rawness and excitement of life. I always hope for a strong dynamic combined with personal moments between two people that generate a visceral reaction. Stories that push boundaries while maintaining an honesty that can bring genuine moments of true connection.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a director and/or writer?
To get a truthful performance make sure actors truly ‘listen’ to each other. It’s advice I got through Directing Actors by Judith Weston. Without listening, a dramatic scene is just ‘my turn to talk, your turn to talk’; it becomes a scene about two actors’ performances instead of a scene about an event in that relationship. Listening allows actors to affect each other and to create moments; tiny electric connections that build the emotional power of a scene.
Nowadays I also catch myself watching people in conversation in daily life, to see if they are truly listening to one and other. It’s surprising how often people are simply waiting for their turn to talk.
Tell us the most significant moment in your career so far
Receiving a BAFTA nomination straight out of film school. It’s something you simply don’t expect. Suddenly your film floats to the surface and doors start opening.
You’ll die happy when…
When I manage to accept death, but at the moment I find myself wishing I could create more time to make all the films that are living and growing inside me. I hope I get to make a couple of films that have the potential to stay with someone long after they leave the cinema. And that might pop up now and then, unexpectedly, prompted by something in their life that connects them back to the film.
Taken from movieScope magazine, Issue 34 (May/June 2013)