Jean-Marc Vallée is a Canadian filmmaker, screenwriter and editor, best known for directing films such as ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and ‘Wild.’ His father worked as a music programmer at a local radio station, and also loved music. Jean, too, developed a taste for music and got hooked to filmmaking during his teens. Following his high school graduation, he considered a career in music, but finally opted for filmmaking. He studied filmmaking at the College Ahuntsic and the ‘University of Montreal’ (Université de Montréal). In the 1990s, he several short films, such as ‘Stereotypes’ and ‘Les Mots magiques.’ In 1995, he made his film debut with ‘Black List’, and the film received huge critical and commercial acclaim. Thereafter he received critical acclaim for ‘C.R.A.Z.Y.’, ‘The Young Victoria,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ and ‘Wild.’ Apart from writing and directing, he also edits his films. He has also been associated with several successful TV series, such as ‘Sharp Objects’ and ‘Big Little Lies.’
Childhood & Early Life
Jean-Marc Vallée was born on March 9, 1963, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in a French locality. He was raised along with his elder brother.
His father loved music and worked as a music programmer at local music stations. Jean and his brother, too, developed interest in music and they aspired to become DJs.
Jean’s father would bring a lot of musical records, including rare records, into the house. During their teens, Jean and his brother began DJing at the family parties and received a positive response.
At one point, Jean seriously considered a career in music, but as he graduated high school, his interest changed.. Around this time, he had developed a strong love for cinema and began thinking about being a filmmaker. He began making homemade amateur films, which further honed his skills and he grew confident about his passion.
To study filmmaking, he enrolled at the ‘College Ahunstic,’ a Francophone public college.
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Following his graduation in the late 1980s, Jean began making short films. In the early 1990s, he made several short films that brought him considerable attention.
One of his first popular short films was ‘Stereotypes,’ which came out in 1991. The film was appreciated at several events and also won an award for Jean. He won ‘Bourse Claude-Jutra’ for ‘Most Promising Filmmaker’ at the 1993 ‘Rendez-vous du cinéma Québécois.’
He later made short films, ‘Magical Flowers and ‘Magical Words., These shorts also won him more critical acclaim.
In 1995, Jean made his feature film debut with the film ‘Black List.’ The thriller film was in French language and won huge critical acclaim despite its low budget. The film received nine nominations at the annual the 1996 ‘Genie Awards.’ The film was written by Sylvain Guy, and directed and edited by Jean. Following the success of his debut feature film, Jean moved to Los Angeles to forge a career in Hollywood. After some initial struggle, he managed to find his way into the American entertainment industry and began working on his second feature length film. He began directing a western film titled ‘Los Locos,’ which was written by the film’s lead actor, Mario Van Peebles. Jean directed yet another low budget film ‘Loser Love’ in the late 1990s.
In 2000, Jean turned to television, directing two episodes of the series ‘The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne.’
In the mid-1990s, when Jean was in Montreal, he had started working on a screenplay based on his own childhood experiences. He developed the screenplay over the years and had been making the film. After 10 years into making, the film ‘C.R.A.Z.Y.’ was finally ready by 2005 and became a huge critical and commercial success almost immediately. The film made its grand premier at the 2005 ‘Toronto International Film Festival’ and was awarded with the ‘Best Canadian Feature Film.’ Made in French, the film received eleven ‘Genie Awards’ and was sent to the ‘Oscars’ as the official entry from Canada.
The success of ‘C.R.A.Z.Y’ turned around Jean’s career as he was approached by legendary director Martin Scorsese to direct the period drama film ‘The Young Victoria’. The film released in 2009 and turned out to be a huge critical and commercial success, winning the ‘Oscar’ in the ‘Best Costume Design’ category, along with bagging nomination in two others.
In 2011, his film ‘Cafe de Flore’ was released. It was directed, written, and edited by Jean, and set in the 1960s Paris. The film turned out to be a massive critical success and earned 13 nominations at the ‘Genie Awards.’ He, however, also received some criticism for replicating the film style he used in his film ‘C.R.A.Z.Y.’. The film turned out to be a commercial success.
The 2013 film ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ starring Matthew McConaughey in the lead role, turned Jean into a star director. The film received six ‘Academy Award’ nominations, and won two (‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Supporting Actor’ for Matthew and Jared Leto respectively).
His next film, ‘Wild,’ premiered at the ‘Telluride Film Festival’ and was also featured at the ‘Toronto International Film Festival.’ Thereafter he received more acclaim for ‘Wild’ and ‘Demolition.’
In 2017, he directed the HBO mini-series ‘Big Little Lies.’ The series received huge acclaim and earned him a ‘Primetime Emmy Award’ for ‘Best Direction.’
In 2018, he directed the thriller mini-series ‘Sharp Objects,’ starring Amy Adams.
Family & Personal Life
Jean-Marc Vallée dated Canadian writer Chantal Cadieux in the late 1980s and the couple got married in 1990.They, however, divorced in 2006. They have two children together.
He uses an alias ‘John Mac McMurphy.’
He likes to shoot in natural lights as much as possible and hence, he prefers shooting during the day.