Short Film Profile

The First Interview

In the world's first media interview, shot in Paris in August 1886, the great photographer Nadar interviews the famous scientist and sceptic Chevreul on his 100th birthday. In their own words - originally recorded in shorthand - they discuss photography, colour theory, Moliere, the scientific method, the crazy ideas of balloonists, and - of course - how to live for 100 years. These two legends of the 19th century have a lively and interesting conversation. One was born before the French revolution; the other was destined to see the marvels of the aeroplane and the movies.

Film notes

The First Interview sketches in the careers of these two great men of the 19th century, using stills from the Nadar archive in Paris. These same photographs are then used as the source material for an “impossible movie”. The First Interview does not present a conventional dramatisation with actors using conventional cinematic means. These people are Nadar and Chevreul, speaking their own words, as filmed with sound - somehow - in 1886.

After extensive initial research into the subject and the feasibility of the idea, I travelled to Paris to do more research, and to view the original negatives in the French archives. We also established the relationship with our associate production company in Paris, Dark Prince, and secured the enthusiastic participation of the leading French director Agnès Varda as our Narrator.

Though we are an Australian production company, we have always seen The First Interview as relying as far as possible on its primary sources – and therefore that the interview should use the original words of Nadar and Chevreul, and be in the French language. In order to provide both English and French versions, we recorded Ms Varda's narration in both languages. We recorded all the voices in Paris, using senior French character actors with a feel for archaic speech.

The sophisticated prosthetics of Melbourne's Nik Dorning have achieved a close physical likeness for the two characters. The film's visual and sound quality is from the 19th century too. This is based on close study of many silent movies and sound recordings, as well as composites such as the recently restored Edison sound test from 1894. After filming in an Australian studio, this “impossible movie” has been achieved with careful use of visual effects and sound.

Finally, after 125 years, the conversation between Nadar and Chevreul comes to life. They speak to us from a world before cinema: the Paris of 1886.
photography history media cinema science




Copyright © 2011 Jungle Pictures

Previous screenings

Sedicicorto: International Film Festival Forlì
3 Oct – 9 Oct | Forlì, Italy
Fike: International Short Film Festival
21 Oct – 29 Oct | Évora, Portugal
3 Nov – 13 Nov | Brisbane, Australia
10 Nov – 20 Nov | St. Louis, United States
Zinebi: International Festival of Documentary and Short Film
11 Nov – 18 Nov | Bilbao, Spain
Etiuda&Anima International Film Festival
18 Nov – 24 Nov | Cracow, Poland

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 16 May 2011