The art of the co-production
by Françoise Deriaz, Mathieu Loewer
- Thierry Spicher’s cinematic debut, feature film My Brother is Getting Married, is a co-production with France, where it will be released on January 31
Coming from a background in theatre and dance, Thierry Spicher founded Box Productions with Elena Tatti in 2004. Wanting to "place the actor at the centre of the production process”, his first experiences were in video art and the DVD with Jean-Stéphane Bron’s documentary Le génie helvétique. This work inspired him to produce the documentary filmmaker’s first feature, My Brother is Getting Married [+see also:
interview: Jean-Stéphane Bron
interview: Thierry Spicher
How did you put together the financing for this co-production?
Thierry Spicher: We had 70% of the financing secured and we wanted to remain majority producers, so we had to a find a co-producer with a not very risky project as a first film, sell-able to television and with a screenplay registered with the CNC (Centre National de la Cinématographie) that was "euro-compatible". The film was being developed when a series of articles about it appeared in the French press. We then wrote to about 10 producers who had said interesting things on the subject. Philippe Martin of Films Pelléas said "here". My Brother is Getting Married is perfectly suited to a company that produces arthouse and actors’ films. I think that you should not co-produce on the basis of reciprocity among films but ask yourself who is the best possible partner for a project.
What convinced Philippe Martin?
First of all, Stéphane Bron’s work, because we contacted him when Le génie helvétique was coming out in France with a lot of press coverage and enormous visibility after screening at the Festival du Réel in Paris. Later, the screenplay, the casting and, without a doubt, the atypical profile of our "director-producer" group: our young age, our naivety due to our lack of experience, but also our ability to learn quickly. The advantage of Switzerland is that directors are used to "do-it-yourself" methods of raising money for budgets, making deals with broadcasters, etc.
Why didn’t you look for other co-producers?
With two priority countries and an international sales agent (Films Distribution), we didn’t need to. If we had looked for a Belgian partner, we would have had to reorganise the co-production. We were ready and I wanted the budget — which was ultimately €2.15m — to be set before we shooting began. I’m not a very good poker player. Currently, considering the complexity of co-production subsidising laws in Europe, I don’t think that’s the best way to go. All projects bring risks, you have to know how to take them.