Jean-Christophe Reymond • Producer
by Fabien Lemercier
- Interview with Jean-Christophe Reymond, who heads up Kazak Productions, the young Parisian society on the up and up
With over 40 short films under its belt, Kazak Productions has made a striking breakthrough into feature films with four films: The Wakhan Front [+see also:
film profile] by Clément Cogitore (which was selected for Critics’ Week at Cannes in 2015 and nominated for the Louis-Delluc Prize for Best First Film), Fool Circle [+see also:
film profile] by Vincent Mariette (nominated for the Lumière Award for Best First Film in 2015), Mercuriales [+see also:
film profile] by Virgil Vernier(unveiled on the Croisette in 2014 as part of the ACID selection), and Jimmy Rivière [+see also:
interview: Teddy Lussi-Modeste
film profile] by Teddy Lussi-Modeste (nominated for the César and Lumière Award for Most Promising Actor in 2012). We caught up with Jean-Christophe Reymond, who heads up the Parisian company with his associate Amaury Ovise.
Cineuropa: What is Kazak Productions’ editorial line?
Jean-Christophe Reymond: We work on films of different types, but we try to proposals as far as possible, without having them end up radical. Today, to get into cinemas and elsewhere, a film needs as clear an identity as possible: it shouldn’t be stuck somewhere between one thing and another. For example, the screenplay for The Wakhan Front was highly original and even though the proposal was complicated with the way it mixed war, mystery and fantasy genres, we pushed the boundaries as far as possible as we didn’t want anything too normal or bland. Nevertheless, we also have to stay open-minded, work together with our writers so that the world and characters they have created remain intact whilst we broaden their audience with the mix we’re looking for: interesting and contemporary stories that are also arthouse proposals. Kazak has also produced over 40 short films and all the directors of our feature films have worked with us on shorts. Indeed, we’re still working with them as we’ve signed on for a second feature film with all the writers whose debut films we’ve produced. We want to try to grow together.
What’s your take on the funding situation, in particular for the style of young cinema that you produce?
The bold and original line is not the most well-received: TV broadcasters and their schedulers look instead for a trained cast for audiences looking for films that are easy to understand, in other words comedies more often than not. For example, Fool Circle was a comedy with a strong cast, albeit a melancholic one, so it bucked the trend. Even so, Canal+ has supported almost all our films and we also have some excellent distributors. By and large, funding is relatively difficult to come by in this day and age, and films struggle to exist, but we somehow manage to get them made. So we mustn’t judge those who still defend the diverse film tradition we belong to. What’s important is that we remain consistent, with a reasonable level of spending and strong proposals.
What projects will you be working on in 2016?
In post-production, we have Compte tes blessures by Morgan Simon (see news article), a debut feature that forays into the world of post-hardcore rock and tattoos. On 1 February, we will start shooting Corporate (see news article), the first feature film by Nicolas Silhol about a human resources manager (played by Céline Sallette) faced with suicides in her company caused by “management by terror” which she slowly becomes aware of and reports. The cast also features Lambert Wilson and Violaine Fumeau. The film has been pre-purchased by Canal+ and Ciné+, and is being supported by Rhône-Alpes Cinéma and the Cinémage and Manon Soficas. Diaphana will distribute it in France whilst Indie Sales will take care of international sales. Then, in late summer-autumn 2016, we will start filming Un vrai bâtard, the second feature film by Teddy Lussi-Modeste, who once again teamed up with Rebecca Zlotowski to write the screenplay. The film is the story of a comedian swiftly rising to fame, who is emotionally and financially "extorted" by those closest to him. Then we have Les fauves, the second feature film by Vincent Mariette, who wrote the screenplay with Marie Amachoukeli, a fantasy film set on a naval base in France. Our aim is to keep up a production rhythm of one to two feature films and four shorts per year. Indeed, this year we have three shorts in the national competition at Clermont-Ferrand. We need to guide these writers towards feature films, then towards a second feature film, and we need them to stay with us, even when they are approached by others. It’s also a gauge of loyalty for moving forward together.
(Translated from French)