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A young filmmaker? She's 16 going on 40

Age is just a number to Anne-Sophie Dutoit, writer, director and star of 'Faded Memories.'

December 01, 2007|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Anne-Sophie Dutoit ran into the same snags and pitfalls the majority of first-time independent filmmakers encounter -- trying to persuade financiers to take a chance on her. It took her a full two years to get money to make "Faded Memories," a drama about a teenager with a phobia of being touched by others.

But what makes Dutoit's experience unique is that she was all of 14 when she wrote "Faded Memories" and 16 when she made the film, budgeted at under $1 million. And not only did she write and direct the film -- leading an ensemble cast and an experienced crew of about 60 -- she also stars in the drama.

"I've always been an outgoing person," Dutoit says. "I just do what I have to do; nothing really impresses me. We're all people, so for me age does not matter. You can be 16, 21, 50 -- age is something to keep order in life. I think you can be who you are at any age."

An avid reader and writer growing up, Dutoit adds that directing has always been in her blood. "I was the one who would gather people together and we would do plays. I would direct and I would be in them."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, December 06, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Anne-Sophie Dutoit: An article in Saturday's Calendar section about Anne-Sophie Dutoit said the young filmmaker had won an award in Swansea, England. Swansea is in Wales.

She got her first experience directing film at 15 when she attended the teen program at the New York Film Academy. "Marked," the seven-minute film she shot while attending the program, won some awards. "That's when I realized I wanted to direct."

Dutoit, the granddaughter of famed conductor Charles Dutoit, is not lacking in confidence. She has her own production company: Anne-Sophie Films, headed by her father, Ivan Dutoit, who is one of the producers of "Faded Memories," which is scheduled to open in limited release in spring or early summer. And on her MySpace page and her official website, there are clips of her speaking fluent French on a Gallic TV talk show; receiving a film award in Swansea, England, for "Marked"; and directing her cast and crew on "Faded Memories" like she was an old pro.

And she was so determined to make "Faded Dreams" a reality, Dutoit even made a short version of it, "Kara's File," to induce the money men -- private financiers from Montreal who her father says believe in his daughter's ability.

This late afternoon in the Encino home of her editor, Zack Arnold, Dutoit is sitting on the sofa in his editing room, working on a romantic scene between her character of Cassandra and 22-year-old Brock Kelly ("Days of Our Lives") who plays her love interest, Lucas. Just like any teenager, Dutoit blushes when asked if this is her first on-screen kiss. "No," she says with a giggle.

Arnold finds collaborating with Dutoit no different than working with an older, more experienced director.

"Honestly, it's just about the same as working with any other director who knows what they want. It's one of those things when you work with somebody who knows what they want. They know the vocabulary and the language. She could be 40 years old and be accomplished and there wouldn't be much of a difference, except that we can't have a Champagne toast!"

Dutoit has been in front of the cameras performing since she was a 1-year-old who appeared in a commercial for Coke. When she was still young, the Santa Monica native and her family moved to Montreal.

"My parents wanted me to be like a kid," Dutoit says. But at 12, she yearned to return to acting and told her parents she wanted to move back to Los Angeles. "At 13, I started acting again and going to auditions," she explains.

She was inspired to write "Faded Memories" because she found most movies she was seeing to be boring. "I wanted to see another kind of movie," Dutoit says. "I started writing a movie I wanted to see and what my friends would want to see. I based my character on people I knew and feelings that I felt. Everybody kind of feels lonely in their life."

Dutoit's father, who had been a script doctor and content analyst for several Canadian film institutions, says that with "Faded Memories," he hopes her films will take off and she'll make a series of movies. "She is trying to change the teen market. She wants to make a difference. She even has some special-ed people in the movie. She has this ability to make things possible. She doesn't have 10 or 20 years' experience as to where the camera should be and how to deal with actors. But she has this organic approach and knows what she wants."

Dutoit had no problems, she says matter of factly, working both in front of and behind the camera. "I have monitors so I can check my performance. "I was really prepared for my part. I could easily get in my character and get out and just be me directing."

The film was shot over three weeks this summer in various locations in the Los Angeles area on high-definition video.

"I like to see my dailies," Dutoit says. "And I really love shooting with HD. For my other movie, I shot on Super 16 and that is totally a different process because you have to wait" to see dailies.

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