by Fabien Lemercier
- Following The Assault, SK1, Macadam Stories and The Crew, French producer Julien Madon has started working on Dalida and the still-in-development Prost
Working across three different companies, Single Man, Bethsabée Mucho and Labyrinthe Films, French producer Julien Madon has proven to be particularly active since he first produced a feature film, Julien Leclerq’s The Assault [+see also:
film profile], in 2010. Some of the biggest titles he has to his name are Samuel Benchetrit’s Macadam Stories [+see also:
film profile], Frédéric Tellier’s SK1 [+see also:
film profile], Lisa Azuelos’ Quantum Love [+see also:
film profile] as well as Leclerq’s The Crew [+see also:
film profile] (which hit French cinemas on 4 May). Madon is currently working on Azuelos’ biopic Dalida, shooting for which has just wrapped, and is teaming up with Leclerq yet again, this time preparing his next project, Prost, a film about the four-time Formula 1 champion.
Cineuropa: Why did you decide to become a producer?
Julien Madon: I was working in consulting, and I knew Julien Leclerq, who was working on The Assault at Gaumont, but the producer had just left the company, so everything was put on the back burner. And so, given that we were planning on setting up a company together, Julien suggested we team up with Labyrinthe Films. It was all a story of encounters, really. I obviously love cinema, and I had an unrealised desire to work in the industry while also wanting to have an entrepreneurial project.
What kind of a producer are you?
I don’t prefer any one genre to any other; I like directors, and as a producer, I work closely with them. Prost will be my third film with Julien Leclerq. As for Bethsabée Mucho, it’s the company I run with Lisa Azuelos, and we mainly produce her films, but there are a few other projects we work on, too. Of course, there are also the films I produce for Single Man, like Samuel Benchetrit’s Macadam Stories and Frédéric Tellier’s upcoming projects. When it comes to how I work, when producing Lisa Azuelos’ Dalida, I am going about it in exactly the same way as I did for The Assault. I try to ask myself, “Will every euro we spend be seen on the screen?” It’s something that’s really important; that’s how we can say, “The Crew feels like a €10 million film even though it only cost €6 million, and Dalida feels like a €20 million film when it only cost €14 million.” When working with directors, we want to know whether you can see the money that we put into it on the screen. If we think you can, we’ll spend the money, but if we don’t think you can, we ask if we really need to spend that big. French films always find themselves competing with US films with €200 million budgets, which they splash on anything and everything, buying rockets and the like, while the cost of a ticket remains the same whether we see a French film or a US blockbuster, so all the money we do have needs to be visible. At the end of the day, I try to produce my films for the widest possible audience, whether they’re auteur films like Macadam Stories, which was mainstream with its average-Joe kind of characters. After that, you obviously just have to hope that the audience comes along to see it.
What is your take on the current funding trends in France?
The French system is highly efficient and protective, and we can see that with the most recent reform to the tax credit, which made me choose to relocate Dalida to France, after we had plans to shoot it abroad. For that matter, distributors have gone through a bit of a rough patch; I feel as though we all have to start making films that are more economically coherent. But, seeing as I started my career with The Assault, which only had backing from Canal+ and Mars Films, I’ve always known how hard it can be, and I’ve always made a habit of getting the most bang for my buck. All you have to do is find solid partners who believe in the project and who are willing to defend it.
What about European co-productions?
I’ve co-produced a few films with Belgian companies, and for Dalida we have a co-production agreement in place with Italian outfits Wildside and Rai Cinema, which is going rather swimmingly. I’ll be on the lookout for partners for Prost at Cannes as well. It’s a project that’s comparable to Dalida in style because it’s the story of a racing champion, but above all else, it’s the story of a man. Like with Dalida, there is a public figure, whom everyone has heard about, but the story we want to tell is that of the more private side of the character. As for producing in the strictest sense, I’m currently developing and will produce Prost for Mars Films. As I found with Pathé on Dalida, it’s important to have a partner right from the beginning, especially on big projects; that way, you can share the funding and artistic strategies. Prost has started well as a project, and what we’re trying to do now is set up some co-productions in advance.
(Translated from French)