Making Waves In Los Angeles: A Conversation With French Filmmaker Théo Mahy-Ma-Somga Ahead Of Shooting Ubuntu: An African Story
Théo Mahy – also known by his full name, Théo Mahy-Ma-Somga – has produced and directed a plethora of award-nominated films and TV shows.
The French filmmaker is now based in Los Angeles, and his film projects include 'An American Life', 'All We Have Left' and 'The Audience’.
He tells us about first going to Cannes in his teens, how he was inspired by directors from around the world, and a very personal new project set in Cameroon...
Why did you go into filmmaking?
I grew up in France as an only child. When I wasn’t playing outside or reading, I was absorbed by movies. Within seconds, my imagination would be taken to different planets and dimensions. I was fascinated by the craft and the power that a film can have – being able to tell a story that can change the way people think in less than two hours.
How did you start producing and directing films?
In high school, I jumped at the opportunity to take film classes. I was 14 when I made my first short film, called ‘Lost in Reality’. We went to the Lunel Festival, and then the next year to Cannes; my mom was living there so I knew the area already, but seeing it during the festival was a completely different experience. I remember being fascinated by the energy – the excitement was something I’d never felt before. We were only given tickets for some blue-carpet showings, but at Cannes you can get tickets for the red carpet if you wait outside the Marché du Film. Wong Kar-Wai was showing his new film, ‘2046’, and I couldn’t miss that. I waited the entire day to get a ticket. Finally I got one, and watching that movie in that magnificent theatre was so revealing for me. That’s when I knew what I wanted to do.
Photo credits: Francois Bisi, Vanessa Clifton and Chelsea Film Festival