"Significant potential for development"
by Fabien Lemercier
- We take a look at the story behind French/Belgian co-production Rumba with one of its producers from Paris-based company MK2
Having handled French distribution for Iceberg [+see also:
film profile] (2006), the debut feature by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy, French company MK2 decided to go a step further by backing Rumba [+see also:
interview: Charles Gillibert
interview: Dominique Abel and Fiona G…
film profile], the new work by the trio of original filmmakers. Charles Gillibert – one of the film’s three producers from MK2, along with Marin and Nathanaël Karmitz – looks back at how they got this French/Belgian co-production off the ground.
What made MK2 decide to co-produce Rumba, as well as manage French distribution and international sales of the film?
Firstly, because we felt we’d met a group of true artists with an intense world and distinctive approach, but also significant potential for development as they had made Iceberg on a tiny budget with fabulous results. We thus made a proposal to their production company Courage Mon Amour (who initiated the project) to act as co-producers and handle French distribution and international sales. This enabled us to start artistic discussions during the screenwriting phase and to structure the film’s production together.
How did you get the funding together?
We set out on the basis of a 50%-50% investment and then we each tried to persuade the different funding bodies in France and Belgium. Canal + were immediately very enthusiastic. An advance on receipts from the National Film Centre (CNC) followed, with some very encouraging comments. Then the Haute-Normandie region and the county of Calvados pledged to provide backing.
On the Belgian side, we received support from the Film and Audiovisual Centre of the French Community of Belgium and co-production backing from RTBF. The film was well financed, but we didn’t have an exceptionally large budget (€2.1m). Moreover, with the artists’ dramatic world being well-established, the funding committees could easily imagine how the film would turn out, and let themselves be drawn to its home-made quality, originality and boldness.
How did the film shoot go?
The shoot took place in Normandy and lasted six weeks. One of the trickiest parts was the house we had to burn down. But besides the fact we were a very small team, I must say that the directors and actors prepare well in advance: the margin of improvisation is really minimal, everything is very well thought-out. They work incredibly hard. They had a very clear idea about the setting where they wanted to develop their project and what they intended to do there.
What are your expectations for the film’s French release?
Our aim is to reach 100,000 admissions in France and I hope even more, for the film deserves it. But above all, we’d like these artists to gain greater prominence in France and abroad, for them to have the freedom to be able to make even more ambitious films if they want.
MK2 has another co-production underway with Belgium (Diamond 13) and an ongoing project with Italy (The Certified Copy). What is your strategy regarding European co-productions?
Nowadays, it’s important to find affinities with producers in other European countries in order to continue enjoying a certain freedom in the production process. And meeting producers like Patrick Quinet (Artémis) and Angelo Barbagallo (Bi.Bi Film) makes you want to make films with them.
The funding systems in different countries enable you to get films off the ground financially, but this is meaningless if you have no faith in the people who follow the film through. When you discover affinities with other producers, this creates powerful dynamics for production and provides protection for the directors. Faced with the concentration we’re seeing in Europe in the field of distribution and with the ever-increasing budgets that mean projects end up in the hands of large producers, building relationships and networks is the only way to remain independent.