April 10, 2019

A Parallel Exploration: Sébastien Clermont’s “The Waters”

Woman dressed in red shirt and black pants, with back faceing the camera. She is staring at an orange glowing diamond shape covered in a design, appearing on the wall.
Still Image from The Waters ( 2018)

The Waters (2018) directed by Sébastien Clermont, is our next featured film on YorkFlixour brand new online streaming platform for student films made at York U.  We spoke with Sébastien about his inspiration and process creating this alternative film.


Black and white photo showing headshot of director Sébastien Clermont
Director Sébastien Clermont

What is the nature of your film?

An exploration of the parallels between schizophrenia and shamanism, shown through the alternate reality that is shared by two characters living in contrasting societies.


What inspired you to make this film/tell this story?
My interest in altered states of consciousness prompted the question of whether there is a link between what we call mental illness and the realms explored by shamans in other cultures. My trip to Peru, where I had the chance to experience an Ayahuasca ceremony, was definitely an inspiration for the film’s visuals.


What was a creative breakthrough, major lesson or challenge you overcame?
The greatest challenge was to tell this story without romanticizing mental illness, or Peruvian culture for that matter. I’m not an authority on these subjects, so the film just seeks to ask those questions without preaching. I think that the experimental nature of it, the unconventional structure and editing, help make the piece feel like an exploration and not a thesis.


Is there anyone from your film crew that you want to collaborate with again and why?
Yes, my cinematographer Joel Rodriguez. He is a wizard who has the uncanny ability to extract the images I see in my mind and make them appear on camera.


What advice or tips about resources can you give to York student film makers to make the most of their university film experience?
Make the most of the community of people that are here, both staff and other students. I got access to so much help, locations, props and advice just by asking.