Q&A with ASFF Filmmaker Liam Saint-Pierre, The Reinvention of Normal

Director Liam Saint-Pierre’s documentary, The Reinvention of Normal, follows the story of artist/ inventor/ designer Dominic Wilcox on his quest for new ideas. The eight minute short invites viewers to explore a perspective that turns the normal into something unique. Saint-Pierre’s film was part of ASFF’s Official Selection in 2015 and appeared at venues across the historic city of York last November. We speak to the filmmaker about his motivations behind The Reinvention of Normal, and hear about his interest in portraying characters existing on the extremities of typical social structures.

ASFF: The Reinvention of Normal screened at ASFF in 2015. What motivated you to make this documentary, and where do you look for inspiration?
LSP: I’m always drawn to passionate characters. Their joy for life is infectious and I want to share that with others. Often these people exist outside of the normal structures of society. The thing they love is so much stronger than any need to fit in and it’s on the margins that I find them. In life there is a lot of suffering, but there is real joy too; with my films I always try to sit in the gap between the two.

ASFF: Your film follows the journey of Dominic Wilcox. What intrigued you about this individual’s life and what do you hope audiences will take away with them from his story?
LSP: I met Dominic a few years back. Dominic shared a studio with a friend of mine and was working on a pair of GPS shoes. I loved the innocent joy of his work and made a small film about the shoes. We kept in touch, then last year he told me about a stained glass car he was making and asked if I would shoot another video. However, I was more interested in making a film that captured all aspects of his world; his background, his family and his process of coming up with new ideas. I hope the audience connects with his spirit of creating from the heart and his not getting caught up in thinking, ‘is it right or wrong?’

ASFF: Your work has appeared at various international film festivals, including Raindance, Paris Short, Edinburgh, Berlin and the European Festival of Cinema. What does this exposure mean to you as a filmmaker?
LSP: I think the way we watch short films has changed a lot. For me the most exposure I’ve received has come from online platforms like Vimeo. However, there is always something magical about watching your film on the big screen in the dark and hearing people instantly responding to your work.

ASFF: You have created three documentaries alongside several music videos and other short films. What led you to work in the short film industry, and do you have a favourite genre or style?
LSP: I think shorts are great for developing my ability to tell visual stories in a short period of time. It also allows me to experiment, get things wrong, try something that may never get made; these are things that are not possible when working on a longer form – unless you’ve got lots of money! I find I love many genres and styles, but at the moment I’d like to move towards making more cinematic documentaries and longer form social realist narrative films.

ASFF: Can you talk about your projects for the future? What can we look forward to in 2016?
LSP: I’m just putting the final touches to a documentary about a 74 year old GP from India, who has been working in England for the last 40 years. Besides being a doctor, he’s also an Elvis Presley impersonator, and all the money he raises from his performances goes to a school for children from the slums of Kolkata. I’m also finishing a short social realist narrative piece about a woman who finds a homeless migrant in her allotment shed. I’m also currently shooting a documentary about a dominatrix in New York.

See more of Liam Saint-Pierre’s work: www.liamsaintpierre.com.

Submit your short film until 31 May. For details, visit www.asff.co.uk/submit.

Follow us on Twitter @asffest for the latest news in film in the UK and internationally.

1. Liam Saint-Pierre, The Reinvention of Normal, 2015.