Filmmaker Interview: Stanley Thomas reminds us to preserve cultures through 'Le Boulanger'
Filmmaker Stanley Thomas and producer Biliana Grozdanova are the creators of the latest Reel South short, "Le Boulanger." Poupart's Bakery in Lafayette is captured in Thomas' film as a French-culture haven preserving the French culture, language, and delicious pastries since it's opening by Francois Poupart and his wife, both of whom immigrated from Bordeaux, France, in 1965. Stanley's talents in the film world have taken him to work in Houston, Nashville, New York City, with this latest venture basing him in New Orleans.
Before the Reel South premiere, we caught up with him to get an inside look to the creation of the film –– and to learn just how many delicious pastries he ate during production.
Q: What inspired you to create/produce the film?
It started with a conversation I had with my friend Lindsay. She was telling me about a field
trip as a child when her French class went to Lafayette to visit this bakery. I thought it was a
pretty unique experience she was speaking of so I went to visit the bakery and spoke to
Francois and Patrick and thus began our process.
Q: What do you hope people get out of the film?
I hope people see the film and simply enjoy the unique moments and the story of Francois
and his family. Ultimately it is a feel-good short with great shots of delicious pastries.
Q: What inspiration do you hope people get from the film?
There are a few things. One is the importance of preserving culture. A big theme
expressed in the film is the dwindling of the french culture and history in Lafayette. Poupart's
is a unique place where people can come and still speak french and experience french culture
through its baked goods. I hope it inspires people to visit places like this in their own
Q: Be honest, how many pastries did you eat during filming? What was your favorite?
Haha, too many. I have to say my favorite was their signature king cake the galette des rois.
They are one of the only bakers in the area that makes this traditional mardi gras cake. The
king cake you may know is the one with cinnamon-flavored dough covered in green, gold, and
purple sugar or icing. This galette des rois is made of a creamy almond filling sandwiched
between two flaky, buttery layers of puff pastry. So good.
Q: What was your favorite part of the film?
I have to say one of my favorite moments was when Francois was reflecting on his past and
talking about his wife. That was a very unique and vulnerable moment we were glad we were
able to capture and share.
Q: Was there something you wished you could have included, but for whatever reason
couldn't? If so, what was it?
Well, actually a lot. This was originally supposed to be a longer piece. This short was
produced from footage we had filmed prior to COVID. We had planned to film more but felt
due to the age of the main subject it would not be responsible to continue. We had even
planned a potential trip to France with Francois to explore his background and his guild.
Despite that, we are extremely happy with what was created. Perhaps we will revisit more of
the story at a future time.
Q: Were there any funny/memorable behind-the-scenes moments you wish you captured
in the film?
Honestly, I can’t say there was anything that stands out. Based on what we filmed everything
that needed to be in the piece was included.
Q: What is next for you as a filmmaker?
There are always potential projects currently being worked on or in development for the
future. Documentary film has always been the most attractive genre. Telling real stories of real
people. I have even been looking at different and alternative media like VR and immersive
formats for unique new story-telling mediums.