The freedom to choose
While he says he never aspired to make it big in Hollywood, it’s the freedom that comes with success that Bélanger most appreciates.
“Now I get to pick what projects I work on,” he says. “I have three criteria that I use to decide which films to do: the director, the script and the salary. I need to like at least two out of three to say yes.
“I also try to do at least one Quebec movie per year. I recently worked on a marvelous little film called 14 Days, 12 Nights starring Anne Dorval — it was a wonderful experience and a movie I’m very proud of.”
It’s not about the perfect shot
Bélanger says that some cinematographers are obsessed with each individual shot, but he sees his role as that of a storyteller.
He took that passion to the next level with Matthias & Maxime (2019), which was also a Dolan production. Bélanger’s friend and fellow Concordia grad, André Turpin, BFA 89, was the film’s director of photography and he and Dolan wanted Bélanger to join them on the film.
“They asked if I wanted to be the film’s camera operator,” says Bélanger. “I shot most of the movie with a shoulder mounted camera. Xavier and André had total confidence in me. I improvised and would move based on what I was seeing in the moment.”
‘Concordia introduced me to my cinema family’
Bélanger credits Concordia with broadening his horizons and introducing him to several future collaborators.