Whilst it might be unimaginable for the majority of us to find three young brothers left to survive in an unexplained and perilous actuality, Corentin Leroux’s Grenadine draws from the rich pantheon of films like Harmony Korine’s Gummo to shine a light on brotherly love and the fortitude of youth. Their backstory is left a mystery, only adding to the film’s appeal and lingering presence long after the credits roll. Premiering on our pages today, we delve into the nitty-gritty of Leroux’s potent short to find out more about the world of abandonment and fraternal disarray he brings to such vivid life.
What sparked the idea for Grenadine? Were there particular themes you wanted to engage with?
For this film I wanted to explore the idea of growing up fast at a young age. I have two younger brothers so it made sense to frame the story around three brothers whose fraternal bond gets challenged by the lack of parental supervision. The mysterious disappearance of the parents is never directly mentioned in the film; however, it weighs heavy on the brothers and orbits around every scene. During the audition process, I was looking for boys who would naturally inhabit the world I was creating while having great chemistry together. Luckily, I found amazing actors who gave life to the film. The lead role of Miles was split by two six year old twins named Xavier and Elijah Reyes.
Can you elaborate on how you used the twins and what hurdles you found working with such young actors?
I knew I wanted to work with the twins as soon as they came into their audition flossing and joking around. They were amazing to work with and I’ve had the pleasure of working with them on other projects since. The trickiest part of working with them on set was managing when and how their scenes were split up since they were playing the same character. Both Elijah and Xavier were extremely eager to be a part of each scene and a bit sad when it was the other’s turn. The biggest hurdle was helping them forget about the lights, camera and dozens of crew members around to focus on the emotions I needed to see in their eyes. I think hanging out with them a couple times over the couple weeks preceding the shoot helped make them feel more comfortable around me. On set, we improvised a lot to find the right emotional beats.
I wanted to explore the idea of growing up fast at a young age.
The setting brings such gritty realism to the film, how hard was it to find the right property which fitted your exact needs?
The film mainly takes place in their house, which plays a character in itself, representing the warmth and comfort a familial environment provides, before getting demolished at the end of the film. We found an abandoned property we were able to shoot in and decorate however we wanted, choosing each piece of furniture, wallpaper, even painting the bathtub tiles scarlet red. We needed to shoot in an abandoned house to sell the second half of the story. I thought we’d have more luck glamming up an abandoned house rather than finding a property we could destroy. We searched for months without success until I randomly skateboarded past an abandoned house close by. I found the owners’ numbers online and by the end of the day they had agreed to let us film there. It was a blessing.
I was taken by the deeply textured nature of the film’s soundtrack, which uses naturalistic sounds and moments of silence to build mood rather than music.
I wanted to use background noises and sound effects rather than score to plunge the audience into the boys’ world. In the scene when the house gets vandalized by older teens, we begin with a quiet atmosphere. Miles whispers to Tristan that he shouldn’t be in their parents’ room. We hear crickets in the distance. The silence gets broken up by muffled noises outside the house. Layer by layer, the sounds and dialogue compound and get closer until the characters – and the audience – are forced to turn their attention to it. I love playing with EQ and spatial transitions to make the sound come alive.
Layer by layer, the sounds and dialogue compound and get closer until the characters – and the audience – are forced to turn their attention to it.
How was the production process and what tools did you used to achieve Grenadine’s saturated look?
We shot over six days on an Alexa Mini with Cooke S5i’s with one pickup day when the house was demolished. The editing took about four months. After we wrapped principal photography, my editor and I were busy with other projects so we waited two months before starting the edit. It was my first time working with an editor on a narrative project and it proved to be an amazing experience. We were grinding for a couple weeks and got to a good place before stepping away for a while. We took turns cracking scenes and changed up the order of a huge chunk of the film. For color, I applied a Kodak Emulation LUT and pushed the reds, yellows, blues. I like the way film looks, I wish I could shoot on it more often.
What new projects do you have in the making?
I’ve been building a production company focused on narrative filmmaking and music videos. I’m currently developing stories and working on a few rap videos. You can see our work on siliencefilms.com