This feature is part of Masters at Work, a new series that goes behind the scenes with leading creatives to discover the source of their inspiration. See more here.
Actor, producer, screenwriter and costume designer Xavier Dolan is a man of many talents. But it's his prodigious directing skills that have made him one of the film industry's most exciting ones to watch.
In 2014, his film "Mommy" was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes
, and was awarded the festival's Jury Prize. And just last year, his video for Adele's "Hello"
became a pop culture phenomenon.
Dolan guides British actor Kit Harington on the set of his latest film. Credit: Shayne Laverdière, courtesy of Lyla Films and Sons of Manual
Now, the 27-year-old is working on his latest project, "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan," in Montreal, Canada. His English-language debut, the film features a star-studded cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon and Thandie Newton, as well as "Game of Thrones"
star Kit Harington, who plays the lead.
Thematically, it explores the hardships of fame and the pitfalls of show business. "I always wanted to tell that story about intolerance and about how Hollywood casts aside different people," the French-Canadian says. "To me good storytelling, the storytelling that I enjoy watching, is about precision."
In this instance, his youth and diverse experiences are of particular benefit. "It's new working with someone who's definitely my generation, my age. It's exciting," Harington says of Dolan. "It's an important part of his process that he's an actor as well as a director. He very much lives the text."
Dolan agrees that being an actor plays a big part in how he approaches his craft. But he's not satisfied working alone, and says he ultimately relies on the input of others to help him express himself.
"You surround yourself with people that have a very refined sensibility and understand you, and whose ideas you worship," he says. "Film making is a collective art involving a lot of artists and technicians, but it's something you think alone, but that you create together."
Take a look at the video above to see Xavier Dolan work his magic on the set of "The Death and Life of John F. Donovan."