From her Parisian hostel window, UT alumna Selen Flores overheard a group discussing their missing friend Margot. Without knowing how their story ended, Flores imagined her own version and turned the project into her short film, “Margot.” In her mind, the friends were a group of American students spending their last night in Paris at a club until they realize the youngest group member, Margot, had gone missing. Flores began working on the film after graduating in 2013, drafting a script inspired by the various films she saw when traveling across Europe as a student.
“I think every city that I went to, I watched a local film in the respective language,” Flores said. “I just fell in love with the French New Wave, and European cinema in general made me appreciate film when I was [writing] the story.”
Soon after she began her work, Flores dropped everything and flew to Paris to continue working on drafts for “Margot.” Flores said Austin harbors a strong collaborative film scene, but her love for European cinema drove her to move across the world.
“I told myself I couldn’t stay in Austin,” Flores said. “I can’t go to LA. I can’t go to New York, so I came to Paris. I wanted an international film career.”
To sustain herself, Flores worked on short film projects and took small jobs from nannying to bartending. From Paris, she continued to apply for the Austin Film Society grant each year, hoping to get enough funding to create the film that was always in the back of her mind.
“When I returned to Europe, I kind of tucked [the story] in a drawer somewhere,” Flores said. “But of course, applying to the film grant every year motivated me to pull the story out and work on another draft.”
After editing the script and getting second opinions, Flores flew back to Austin and convinced her friends to come back to Europe with her. With their support, Flores decided to make her film, despite being denied for the Austin Film Society grant.
“Whether I had the grant or not, I was going to do it,” Flores said. “At that point I was like, ‘This is serious. [My friends] are coming, and I need to take advantage of us working on this film [together].’”
Flores said her friend Hannah Smith was instrumental in assisting her with the production process even though she couldn’t speak French.
“Everyone was really cooperative with my terrible, non-existent French,” Smith said. “But we had an excellent team of international folks, and that was probably the best part.”
Flores asked Smith to co-direct, citing her chemistry with the actors and her contributions to the storyline.
“It was our first time co-directing,” Smith said. “I think my strengths and weaknesses really complement Selen’s, so we make a good team. We are extremely frank with one another, and there’s no animosity. It’s the best kind of collaboration.”
As pre-production was coming to a close, Flores launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the film. She said as friends and family contributed to the project, she felt like the film was finally happening.
“‘Margot’ just became more and more real,” Flores said. “It was pretty difficult making this film, but I had good people around me, which made it go a whole lot smoother.”
Since wrapping “Margot” at the end of last year, Flores now has the time to consider ideas for future feature-length films.
“It’s always great to stay working,” Flores said. “Otherwise, you plateau. Even if you learn just one thing on a shoot, you keep learning, you keep growing as a filmmaker. That’s what it’s about.”