Meet Alex Lefevre
Friday 23 April D'Oscars (short for "Dulwich Oscars") returns after last year's COVID hiatus. The event is one of the highlights of the year for our Junior School students. Due to COVID restrictions, this year's event won't match those of years past for pure spectacle, so instead we take this opportunity to celebrate the spirit which moves behind the silver screen.
One of the big reasons for the continued success of D'Oscars is DCSPD Creative Director Alex Lefevre who works extensively with all the student film teams. Alex graduated from the Florent, France's most prestigious Drama school (whose graduates include Marion Cotillard, Diane Kruger, and Eva Green), with a focus on film acting. After graduation he began coaching aspiring actors of all ages, driven by a passion to help people open up, understand themselves better and discover something new.
"I myself was extremely shy when I was young," Alex says. "I want to help people who are shy like I was to discover confidence."
Leading the Film Programme
He has plenty of raw material to work with in the Junior School. Says Alex, "There are many students who can be self-conscious or think they just can't do it, but I believe that on stage everyone can do everything. It's not about your technical skills or years of training, it's about your perception of yourself and how you can give up that perception of yourself to discover new things through the character."
I believe that on stage everyone can do everything.
Alex has been at DCSPD since 2016. Not many acting coaches can say they have as much experience as he does working with children. "You can count them on one hand in the world," he says. "My first year alone I coached 200 children literally one by one."
He recalls one Year 3 student who made immense strides through acting. "She could only blush and was unable to say one word in front of the camera," Alex recalls. "She joined my CCA and the next year she did the Year 4 production and delivered one of the best performances I saw that year. In Year 5 she continued to build up her confidence and then in Year 6 she was outstanding, professional level. The following year she earned a ‘Distinction,’ the highest mark in the prestigious LAMDA exam."
His teaching principles are simple:
Dulwich Pudong is the only international school in Shanghai which has film as part of the Junior School curriculum. The quality of our programme shows through our students' talent. In 2020 we were the only international school which sent Junior School student short films to the Shanghai Student Film Festival where we took home three awards.
Doing film presents a unique opportunity for Junior School students to grow. Says Alex, "It's not so much about the final result of the film itself, it's more about learning collaboration skills, collective decision-making skills, effective planning and delegation. It's a lot of management skills that these kids are getting at 10 years old that most of us didn't encounter until we were in our 20s."
Making a film is about learning collaboration skills, collective decision-making skills, effective planning and delegation.
Acquire Life Skills
Film is also unique in that making a film is more stressful than other group tasks; any single wrong decision can have a huge impact on the entire team. Alex says, "It's not like sport where at the end of the game the game is over, try next time; the game is not over until your film is finished. You need to pull yourself together and even though you're frustrated or the team has some tension you must learn to deal with it effectively."
Film, as one of the few visual arts which cannot be done alone, is also emotionally draining. "You need to discover quite quickly the right mindset because you don't have many second chances," Alex says.
Alex's message to young filmmakers at the beginning of the D'Oscars season is always the same: "I don't care if you make the best film, I care that you know that you did it together." The reward for all the hard work and stress is that after the students finish their work, the positive vibes come and they invariably want to do it again.
So as you enjoy the finished products at this year's D'Oscars event, keep in mind the real stars of the show - the teamwork, the mutual trust, and the determination to see the project to its conclusion.