A concept film and editorial freedom
by Fabien Lemercier
- The founder of Polaris Film Production & Finance with Thierry Potok and Hubert Toint,Christophe Mazodier has successfully produced the Paris-based outfit’s first feature 2 Days in Paris
The founder of Polaris Film Production & Finance with Thierry Potok and Hubert Toint,Christophe Mazodier has successfully produced the Paris-based outfit’s first feature 2 Days in Paris [+see also:
interview: Christophe Mazodier
interview: Julie Delpy
film profile]. We look back on what was an intuitive adventure.
Cineuropa: Where did the project all begin ?
Christophe Mazodier: I was in contact with Julie for The Last Mile, which she’ll star in in 2008. She talked to me about the story of 2 Days in Paris, which attracted my interest right away. In January 2006, she asked me to help her find a team for a challenging shoot with a very small budget, but I thought it a pity to make the film in this way and I suggested to her that I’d take care of it. We barely had 20 pages of dialogue, but Julie wrote the rest very quickly, even if there were still gaps. The aim was to leave enough room for improvisation on the set and especially to go very quickly while keeping our editorial freedom, not having to look at all costs for television backing.
How did you get financing for the film?
We consulted one another to know how much we needed minimum: €500,000 in cash for the shoot (with a total budget of about €1.7m, which increases with the success of the film since everyone wins). We found two important partners: Germany’s 3L Filmproduktion GmbH as co-producers and Rezo Films for international sales and French distribution. 2 Days in Paris was based on a clear and very personal idea of Julie’s. So we needed to develop trust in its ability to attract audiences. The Anglo-Saxon, German or European audiences had no problem in imagining that, probably because they’re more receptive to films like Before Sunset and Before Sunrise. But the French still see Julie as the young 16 year-old actress of Tavernier and investors traditionally like very written scripts, where every comma is thought out, very far from Julie’s conceptual approach. Our approach is certainly a little unsettling for the French market because we said we would shoot the film in June 2006 with or without backing.
How did the shoot go?
In four weeks, with a very small team and in HD – which allowed us to make a lot of savings on laboratories. We also saved on everything: we shot at our own house, a lot of family members and friends were in the team, the producer barred the streets… It almost felt like a short on set.
Has the enormous success of the film’s sales taken you by surprise?
We never doubted that the film would interest the whole world, but we very quickly got confirmation of that at Cannes 2006 when the title was pre-sold to Japan. The script had the potential to do really well abroad because it had, with a lot of humour and without taking itself seriously, everything that foreigners think about the French. And it wasn’t only one-sided because the Americans aren’t spared either. It’s a fake romantic comedy.