Ask Director/Writer Christian Ghosn to describe his signature style and you’ll get the compulsory polite Canadian response, “I think I’m still developing that. If you’d ask a film fan to describe a Christian Ghosn film, I think they’d be hard pressed to specify what that is. I’m constantly learning and growing.” As endearing as that modesty is, those who work with this young and increasingly famous filmmaker would note the tenacity and boundless constitution that often leads to both Ghosn and his collaborators exceeding their aspirations for a production. Whether those behind the camera like Mary Lambert (known for her work on Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery and Madonna’s VMA Award Winning “Like a Prayer” video) or in front of it like actor Mason Gooding of Booksmart (BAFTA Award-Winning and Golden Globe Nominated), the industry professionals who work with this talented Canadian filmmaker can succinctly define his brand as greatness. He’s often a fan of working with those whom he shares a similar belief in and is unreserved in espousing the reasons for this.
Filmmaking is a team effort that requires both strong vision and pragmatism. Ghosn knows this well because he deals with it internally. As a writer and director, there’s an unspoken give-and-take which paves the road for working with others in the creation of a production. Christian remarks, “I love both writing and directing but yes there is a definite ‘switching of hats.’ For example, the writer in me wants all of it to be filmed, wants all of the dialogue to stay as written, etc. However, when I get into rehearsals and shot planning, the director hat comes on and I almost need to forget about the screenplay. At the end of the day, the screenplay has to be a blueprint for the director and other collaborators to work from. It is not written in stone. It’s very much a fluid document.” His films are known for their twists and characters who keep their cards close to their chests.
Ghosn is an unapologetic fan of repeat collaborations with other professionals in whom he finds a mutual admiration. Mason Gooding (known for his work on the Golden Globe and BAFTA Nominated Feature Film Booksmart, the hit Hulu series Love, Victor, and Primetime Emmy-Award-Winning series Star Trek: Picard) has appeared in multiple films written and directed by Christian. As Rick in Violent Nights, Gooding plays the ally of a hit-woman on a vengeful path. Also notably starring Award-Winning Actor Pascal Yen-Pfister (of Image Award and SXSW Film Festival Nominated TV Series Turn; Washington Spies, Sundance Film Festival Winning Feature Film Brittany Runs a Marathon, and HBO Max original series Love Life) as Arnold, Violent Nights is a prime example of this filmmaker’s ability to capture remarkably different characters from the same actors in different roles. Violent Nights and 2018’s When Don Met Vicky (starring Gooding in the lead role) illustrate a great director’s ability to transfer their own perception of a character to the audience even though the physical appearance is nearly the same.
Extended to this circle of trusted collaborator is Cinematographer Nina Gofur who served as DP on both When Don Met Vicky and Violent Nights. More than any other aspect, the union of these three professionals carves out its own identity within the genre. Perhaps more pronounced than any other aspect is the use of handheld cameras and the direction used to communicate Don’s perspective in this 2018 production. An Award-Winner at the Redline International Film Festival, When Don Met Vicky is available to view on streaming platforms in more than thirty countries. The success and notoriety of this film, in addition to the positive work experience, led Ghosn to return to Gofur as DP for Violent Nights. He communicates, “Working on When Don Met Vicky and Violent Nights allowed for us to grow together and continue to develop a visual style together. It also allowed for a very fluid process on the second film as we had already worked together before and worked together quite well. The small things we already knew; communication wasn’t an issue and it made having any tough conversations or disagreements much easier than it would be had we not worked together before. It also comes with an established level of trust. It’s almost like a weight off your shoulder when you know you’re going into battle with someone who has your back, shares your vision, and is willing to work with you.”
Known for his commitment to “making his day” and a staunch adherence to excellence that has catapulted his fame in such a short time, Christian Ghosn espouses the virtues of filmmaking and the fulfillment it offers him. He relates, “By loving every aspect of preproduction, production, and post, you can’t help but have a good result in the end. The long days and long nights on set, in the editing room, and writing alone is all worth it if you pour your love into it. Making films is a privilege nobody is telling me I have to do it. And that’s a beautiful thing if you want it to be.”
Writer: Coleman Haan