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19th ÉCU Film Festival, Paris

"I think filmmaking came into my life from a mix between these two fields. A passion for images met a passion for the intensity of human feelings."

Festival Screening:


April 3, 2024  

Luke and Simon always go for burgers together after tennis. But this time, Luke wants to tell Simon how he really feels about him. How will Simon react? Luke's vivid imagination leads us into some intense scenarios, only to reveal a surprising truth.


Hi Sami, thank you for taking the time to talk with The New Current. Are you looking forward to screening Dream Burger at ÉCU this year?


Hi! Yes I’m really looking forward to it. It is a film very dear to me and showing it at ECU is a great occasion to showcase the hard work  of the wonderful cast and crew I collaborated with.


Your previous short films Melvin (2012), Seuls (2014), and Enora (2016) had amazing festival run collecting multiple awards and nominations. What did it mean to you to get this type of recognition for your films?


When you “set your film free” and let it travel to very diverse audiences, you never know what the feedback will be and receiving a nomination or an award lets you know you did a good job, so it’s always pleasant of course.


Will there be any nerves ahead of your screening in Paris? 

There will only be excitement!


How important are festivals like ÉCU in continuing to champion and supporting independent films and filmmakers? 

To me they’re essential because sometimes film festivals are very exclusive or even elitist. They have a pre-conceived artistic line that they follow no matter what. Festivals like ECU are more open to new styles, new narratives and we as filmmakers need them to be able to show works that bear no compromise.


Can you tell me a little bit about how Dream Burger came about, what inspired your screenplay?

I was sitting by myself in a MacDonald’s and suddenly, I don’t know why, my attention was caught by two young men eating at the table facing me. One of them left for a very long time before returning and it sparkled my imagination. What was he doing? But most importantly what was going on in the head of the one desperately waiting? And the film is also inspired by my own experience as a gay man, where it can be quite a challenge to know if you stand a chance with the person you fancy or the fear you can have of revealing your feelings and therefore your sexual orientation. But I wanted to put a lot of lightness into it and that’s how Dream Burger became a comedy.


When working on a short like this how much flexibility with the screenplay do you allow yourself and your cast?

I allow myself and the cast a lot of flexibility as long as it serves the story I want to convey. In my opinion, a screenplay is a guide. When you’re shooting your film, you got your guide, you know where you want to go, but you have to take into account how the lines you’ve written sound in the mouth of the cast, how the actors’ movements fill the frame and therefore one of the greatest qualities for a director is to be in the moment, to be able to improvise, to adjust and use what is, instead of staying stuck with your script.


Does your background as an actor, both on stage on screen, help you bond with your cast differently than a director who doesn’t have that unique perspective?

Yes I do believe so. Knowing what being an actor is, I feel a got a very special bond with the actors I work with. I know their language; I know what words or indications can inspire them, motivate them, reassure them, and orientate them towards a direction that is powerful for the film. One thing that is very important to me is to really connect with them and talk  face to face. You won’t find me sat behind my video monitor for long, I got to move and be with my cast.


What was the biggest challenge you faced making Dream Burger and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

I think one of the biggest challenges was the sex scene between Luke and Simon. I had never worked on one before. But thanks to a good and safe preparation with rehearsals, conversations and rules, it worked out really well ! The only thing I would have done differently, but that was not under my control, is to have more days to shoot the film and also a continuity person working on the set. 


How much did your previous experiences prepare you for making Dream Burger?

My previous shoots helped me to be confident, being able to hold a team together and keep my vision as a director in the heat of the action.


Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I started by studying photography in Switzerland and at the same time I was taking theatre classes. I think filmmaking came into my life from a mix between these two fields. A passion for images met a passion for the intensity of human feelings.


Was there any one film that you saw growing up that sparked the filmmaker inside you?

I must say that Lord of the Rings always has a special place in my heart.


Has your directing style and approach changed a lot since your debut film?

I think I’m a lot freer in my approach; I’m able to use unforeseen events as an advantage. I have a more spontaneous style. But what hasn’t changed is the place I give to my vivid imagination. My films always have included colourful, lively characters or situations, a hint of comedy and a well-defined aesthetic.


What does your work say about you and the way you see the world?

I think my work shows that I want to bring some hope and light in this world that I see sometimes as way too serious and dark.


Is there any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Don’t wait for people to tell you that they like your film or how you should do it. Listen to their advice but do not seek approbation. At one point, you have to stop thinking and move. Actually directing is the only way to learn. So you know what to do: action!


Looking back at your career so far what would you say you’re most proud of?

Having never stopped believing in myself, no matter the feedback I might have gotten.

I’m also proud of having always surrounded myself with creative and dedicated professionals and friends. A director is nothing without a crew and I’m proud of having made the right choices so far.


And finally, what is the message you would like your audiences to take from Dream Burger?

You know what, Simon, one of the main characters, says it in the film: “Don’t think. Just act.” The message would then be for the audience to understand that it’s normal sometimes to feel a certain kind of way about revealing your feelings, but don’t wait, just go for it because you’ll never know the other’s response unless you try.

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