Friendship and Movies: Philippe and Hugo’s Journey Upward! Into Filmmaking

Shared love of film unites moviemakers on their own project

New student film product of long term artistic partnership. Photo Cèdre Obeid

Philippe Champagne and Hugo Remy are two members of the Concordia Film Society who share a common goal: showing the world how relevant filmmaking is to those looking for an outlet of comfort.

Their latest collaboration as co-directors Upward! takes place in a therapy session and features a superhero as its main character. A heavy topic with a tinge of dark humour, Pete–the protagonist–works through a past traumatic experience with his therapist while attempting to control his supernatural abilities.

Champagne, writer, lead actor, and co-director of the movie said that “most of my work comes from personal experiences, and being a comic book/superhero fan I picture most of my characters playing a part as such.”

Remy, co-director and director of photography said that aside from liking Champagne’s script, he wanted to make sure the movie didn’t focus on the dialogue too much and rather make it overflow with emotion and visual storytelling. He would rather let the audience feel everything the hero is feeling while they watch.

“I already had acted in theatre at CEGEP, and now that I’m in university I want to try it on a wider, complicated scale through filmmaking,”he said.

At 15-years-old, Champagne knew he wanted to write and direct movies. Hesaid that he first got the bite for filmmaking when watching Sam Raimi’s Spider Man at the cinema, then falling in love with it by watching Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Remy said he spent most of his childhood locked inside his room watching movies and playing video games. According to him, “12 was the revolutionary age where I knew I wanted to be a DP for the sake of controlling the image, just as one controls video game characters and guides them throughout a level or obstacle. 

At 16,” he continued, “I was given a camera on my birthday, and I’ve been directing ever since. My biggest influences are Tom Tykwer’s Cloud Atlas and M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable.

Upward! follows a superhero who must confront trauma from his past Photo Cèdre Obeid

In 2019, Remy arrived in Montreal from Paris as a transfer student, and through a common friend he met Champagne. At first, they attempted to form a band but the project didn’t materialize. They then found themselves bonding through movies and moviemaking instead, and ever since summer 2020, they’ve frequently collaborated.

KhaiYi Kan, president of CFS, played a big part in managing the crew and actors working on Upward!

“I was either assistant directing or producing during the shoot” she says “I also managed financials, human resources, resource equipment, location management, signing contracts, catering management, schedule building, shot-list feedback,.. basically a lot of time management.” 

Kan stated that she usually works with five or six people on a standard shoot. During filming, she had 16 cast and crew members to keep an eye out for. Kan added that the production faced scheduling conflicts for some of its filming locations.

“Filmmaking is 70 percent problem-solving, especially student film, because you have very limited resources and almost no connections to back you up, so you’d just have to figure it out yourself,” Kan added. “And even when everything works out, you can never be too prepared; problems will come up either with production, pre-production or post-production”

“Despite all that, I’m very thankful for our awesome team. They sacrificed so much to make this movie successful by their willingness to learn and follow instructions,” she concluded.

Today, Remy is still working on a short film that will be released soon titled Missing String. It is written, directed and DP’d by him.

Champagne has recently released a short movie on Youtube titled Fly. It is written, acted and directed by him. He has also acted in a play not long ago with the Concordian theatre crew titled Flight of the Bird.

Anyone interested in following or joining the CFS community club, can catch updates on their social media here.