French-American filmmaker Jonathan Chekroune was just six when he saw Steven Spielberg’s ET and turned to his father with a life changing realisation: “That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life”.
Flash-Forward to 2009 and Chekroune was already leaving all the partying of his teenage years to really become serious about his passion. So he came up with his first film “Three”, which shows how committed he is to be a filmmaker with his own voice. He wrote the story and directed it while in film school, which gave him the chance to work on his colleagues’ productions and get some extra experience on what to do and what not to. He has also been supporting other filmmakers' work with his curiosity for the camera, as he did working as a director of photography for Agatino Zurría's 'La Mesa Esta Servida' (Dinner is Served) in 2011.
His next big project came to him as a dream. He simply woke up and told his Girlfriend he had a great idea for a film, so obviously we wrote it and suddenly it beat all the other stories he had on the table. “I wrote the rough draft in an hour. I guess I got lucky” Chekroune says about his sudden encounter with his muse.
“Nostos” is the story of a talented painter who can’t seem to get a break with his work. After he makes one last attempt and fails, he falls into depression and begins to give up on his own work. The twist comes when he gets “the mother of all ideas” and puts all his energy into it”. Well the way Chekroune tells the story sounds pretty much the way the idea of the actual film came into his mind. Life imitates art? Not really, Chekroune is not a painter and he is still too young to have failed so much as the character in the film does. On the contrary, the way he is building his body of work it seems we will have an excellent new voice from South Florida.
Chekroune’s attention to details comes from his obsession with the frame. His films display a polished visual set up, which gives the impression that we are watching the work of a consummate filmmaker. “That is why ‘Nostos’ took so long to finish. It had a complicated production in every aspect. Xavier, the main character, is dynamic and brilliant so I had to convey all those ideas with dialogue, camera work, lighting and location.”
Xavier is played by John Trapani, and the film also stars Angela Akis in a pivotal role. Both were chosen during a casting weekend and soon fell in love with the project. “I knew there was depth in their eyes and the way their body expressed their inner feelings”.
In order to tell the story through the images themselves, Chekroune brought in the excellent cinematographer Ralf Gonzalez whose work he has always admired. He needed a person who would understand his vision and enhance it, specially since the story involves an artist whose visual universe expresses his inner battle.
So, what’s next, we asked the Writer-filmmaker. “I have a lot of ideas. I don’t want to be making shorts all my life. I am really interested in the feature world and I already have a psychological thriller undergoing the search for funds. It’s a very exciting project...Or maybe I’ll get lucky again and have another great dream”.