Filmmaker Jean-Francois Caissy explores the teenage existence and the rules by which youths govern their lives.
Guidelines (Original French title: La marche a suivre) is a 2014 Quebec feature-length documentary by Jean-Francois Caissy about adolescent students at the Ecole Antoine Bernard high school in the rural community of Carleton-sur-Mer, in the GaspesieÃ¢â‚¬â€œIles-de-la-Madeleine region. The film uses a fly on the wall style of documentary storytelling as it chronicles such issues as drug use, bullying and disruptive behaviour, while contrasting school life with the freedom of the outdoors. In conversations between teachers or social workers and students, Caissy often makes use of a fixed camera, so that voices of adult authority are off-screen and unseen.
Caissy has stated that Guidelines is part of a series of films he plans to make on five stages of human life: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age as well as old age, which was the subject of his 2010 feature documentary La belle visite. Caissy grew up in the Gaspesie region, and was drawn to the Antoine Bernard school because it reminded him of his own experiences as a youth.
The film is produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Its cinematographer is Nicolas Canniccioni. The editor is Mathieu Bouchard-Malo.
In scenes set behind closed doors that play out in real time, a fixed frame on adolescents being addressed by authority figures reveals the complexities of their daily lives. Conversely, seasonal outdoor activities like bridge diving, paintball and snowmobiling test unspoken boundaries of safety and beliefs of invincibility. Caissy masterfully allows silence to permeate scenes so that singular actions have great resonance. Almost half a century after Frederick Wiseman’s High School, Guidelines provides a fresh perspective on modern adolescents. The hairstyles have changed, but the rebelliousness remains.