"A universal story"
by Fabien Lemercier
- The co-director of Elzevir Films tells us more about the making of Live and Become, an European coproduction
Denis Carot, the co-director (with Marie Masmonteil) of the French company Elzevir Films, and the associate producer for Live and Become, tells us more about the making of the film and about European coproduction.
Cineuropa: What convinced you to produce Radu Mihaileanu’s film?
Denis Carot: A few years ago, my work partner Marie Masmonteil met Radu Mihaileanu at the Unifrance meetings in Acapulco, Mexico, and they got along very well. We kept in touch with him and one day, Radu came with the project, which was just a few pages long. We had heard of the Falashas before, but that was 20 years ago. Yet, when we read the synopsis, we really liked his idea to follow a little boy’s extraordinary adventure through these terrible events, although —or maybe because— it was quite a daring one. In any case, we loved the story right away.
How did you finance the project?
We had many partners for a €5.3M budget. We knew it would not be easy to gather funds because we did not have the classical elements, such as a prestigious cast. Our best argument was the good story and its universal aspects. It had to be an international coproduction. The first step was made when Marek Rozenbaum (Transfax) agreed to be our partner in Israel. After that, we needed European partners but it did not take long for Cattleya (Italy) to join us. We had met Ricardo Tozzi in Cannes, and he loved Train de vie so everything went very fast with him. So did it with Dominique Janne (K2 Productions), which allowed our film to get support from the French Community in Belgium. However, as the long list of credits show, it was not always that easy. But we were supported by France 3 Cinéma and Canal +. It helped a lot but we still had problems finding funds, for if most of the people loved the idea, its commercial potential was questionable. It is too big a budget for an art house film, and it is too small a budget for a hit. We were not, however, rejected too many times ; Les Films du Losange had agreed to distribute the film and we got advances-on-benefits from the CNC and from Eurimages. Later, we completed the budget thanks to Belgian tax-shelters and the support of the Media Programme (which had already selected us, through Media Development, to develop the script) which covered the insurances and some of the costs, as well as the company Naïve which helped finance the original music...
How did shooting go?
It lasted 13 weeks and entirely took place in Israel (except for three days). For Israel, it is quite a big movie, not that the cinema activities are not very dynamic there, but budgets are usually smaller. There was a period of adjustment between the small French crew, which consisted mainly in technical managers (camera, Belgian sound director, first assistant, assistant producer, Franco-Belgian continuity girl, make-up manager) who had come without assistants, and the much larger Israeli crewbut it all went fine. The only thing we can do now is keep our fingers crossed ; sales have been going very well, the film was successful in Berlin, and it has just been released in France (30th March) on 120 copies.