"Loyal to a great author"
by Fabien Lemercier
- Director since 1975 of production, distribution and international sales company Les Films du Losange, Margaret Menegoz tells Cineuropa about the making of Austrian filmmaker's two last feature films
True supporter of European co-productions and managing director since 1975 of production, distribution and international sales company Les Films du Losange, Margaret Menegoz tells Cineuropa about the making of Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke's two last feature films and in particular on the financing of Hidden [+see also:
interview: Margaret Menegoz
interview: Michael Haneke
film profile]. A perfect opportunity as well to discuss the increase of cooperation within continental Europe with the head of Unifrance, (read la news), the organisation responsible for promoting French films around the world.
Cineuropa: What brought Les Films du Losange to produce Michael Haneke’s The Time Of The Wolf and Hidden?
Margaret Menegoz :Michael Haneke is above all a great author and he submitted us the script of Hidden before The Time Of The Wolf. In 2000, he told us the story of Hidden, started to write the script and we had a contract with him. Then came 09.11.2001. He called me and said: "I’m writing a very intimate story but a few years ago, I also wrote another one that is becoming hot news again, The Time Of The Wolf, so I think it would be better to make that film before". I loved the script and agreed to postpone Hidden. Between Les Films du Losange and Michael Haneke, it’s a long story that started a few years ago and will continue. I have total faith in him. I met him when he was doing the mixing of The Piano Theacher and needed some producers. I slightly hesitated and said openly that I didn’t know if I could spend two years of my life in perversion, blood, horror, murder and total darkness!. He laughed and said that he might have more open projects in the future, which was indeed the case. We started immediately to compare our working methods, and it turned out that we had the same principles and that we both liked to spend a long time on a minutely detailed pre-production. As a producer, I think that pre-production can save a lot of money if it is done properly. And Michael Haneke is a very serious filmmaker that works a lot, prepares everything and thinks of everything.
How was the financing put together for Hidden?
Most financial partners have been loyal to Haneke for many years. We teamed with Michael Haneke’s Austrian production company Wega Film and set up a co-production with BIM Distribuzione in Italy and Bavaria Film in Germany. These are the same partners that did The Time Of The Wolf, with the slight difference that BIM was only Italian distributor of the latter film whereas he also decided to co-produce Hidden. Arte and France 3 Cinéma that were also involved in The Time Of The Wolf followed naturally. Also, the CNC’s 'Avance sur recettes' really liked the script of Hidden and unanimously gave it their support. As for the the support from the Council of Europe’s Eurimages Fund, it was very logical because four European co-production partners were involved and Michael Haneke’s films are sold internationally. Eurimages had benefitted from very positive return on investments from The Time Of The Wolf and for Hidden, these will probably be even higher as it was sold in 52 countries.
Such a loyalty to an author and to a company like Les Films du Losange that provides transparent accounts and regularly sends back producers shares to everybody explains why it’s almost the same financial partners.
You’ve always been a great supporter of European co-productions. What do yo think of the current situation?
There has been a real leap forward. As finances are a bit tighter in France, producers are now looking for foreign partners, mostly in the bigger European territories. I notice this trend when as chairman of Unifrance, I attend the French/German Meetings, the French/Italian or French/Spanish meetings that we are soon going to organise. Producers have to be more active in meeting with their foreign counterparts. What I really enjoyed during the last French/German meeting in Lyon, was to see that between a production workshop in one room and a distribution workshop in another room, producers were also busy talking to each other in the garden, exchanging scripts and desires to work together.