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"Just because we have the money to make a film, that doesn’t mean it’s over"

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Ron Dyens • Producer

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- Interview with Ron Dyens, who runs Sacrebleu Productions and is showcasing three projects at Cartoon Movie

Ron Dyens  • Producer

Set up in 1999, Sacrebleu Productions has produced over 90 short films, notably winning prizes at Cannes (Palme d’Or in 2010 for Chienne d’histoire), Berlin, Venice and Sundance. The debut animated feature of the Parisian company, Long Way North [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, took home the Audience Award at Annecy in 2015. We caught up with Ron Dyens, who heads up the company, a few days before Cartoon Movie (being held from 8 to 10 March 2017), where three projects currently under development and being produced or co-produced by Sacrebleu are being showcased. 

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: You’re working with Rémy Chayé on Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary.
Ron Dyens: As things went very well with Long Way North and Rémy has a very unique world that I really like, we decided to work together again, on the same theme: young female figures and that moment when they tumble into adulthood. In Calamity, this moment comes when the protagonist decides to stop wearing skirts, and to wear trousers instead, so that she can help people in the convoy when her mother passes away. It’s a film about the feminist side of the American Wild West as well as an adventure film aimed at children and families. We’re going to present a pilot at Cartoon Movie. As with Long Way North, Maybe Movies is co-producing, but this time in equal measure with Sacrebleu. We want to start making the film in 2018. 

Why did you partner up on The Fantastic Voyage of Marona by Romanian director Anca Damian (Crulic – The Path to Beyond [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Anca Damian
film profile
]
, The Magic Mountain [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
)
with Aparte Film?
I really like her world and her personality. She doesn’t have a background in animation so she doesn’t have this at times industrial way of looking at things that people can find themselves forced into, as animation is expensive. I like the unique way she approaches the scope of what is creatively possible in animation as opposed to films shot with live-action techniques. The freedom she has is very rare these days in animated feature film, unless you’ve made a number of successful films already; generally speaking, the playground of creativity is something that comes with the territory of short films. At Cartoon, we’re going to show the pilot for The Fantastic Voyage of Marona, and we have the screenplay ready.

You’ve also been selected with the project My Sunny Maad by Czech director Michaela Pavlátová, have you not?
In 2012, we won the Cristal for a Short Film at Annecy with her film Tram, which we co-produced with Negativ Film. And a few years later, they pitched the project My Sunny Maad to us, which is the adaptation of a book by a Czech journalist who married an Afghan and went to Afghanistan. The pilot will also be shown at Cartoon, and work on the second draft of the screenplay has just finished.

What’s your take on the state of funding for animated film in France?
French animation has a very good reputation internationally, but the public authorities should focus on development, as it is extremely expensive, much more so than it is for projects shot using live-action techniques.

The other point worth reflecting on is promotion, as French animation is suffering to some extent today from its image as a genre of film for children. So teenagers and adults rarely go to see French animated films, unless they are accompanying children. American animated film managed long ago to make the transition to the notion of "dual language". And this image of French animation also has an impact on theatres, with no evening screenings, which stops potential adult viewers from going to see these films during the week after work.

In France, the issue of quality is also a substantial problem: we’re extremely well-funded, as there is a lot of money in French film. So although it isn’t easy to secure funding for a film, or find original writers, which we must endeavour to do, there are a lot of films out there with varying degrees of funding. And sometimes, we perhaps tend to be a bit lazy, whether you’re talking about producers, screenwriters, or directors. We should maybe adopt this American attitude of saying to ourselves that just because we have the money to make a film, that doesn’t mean it’s over. We should work hard to promote our films, find original ways of getting them out there. 

What do you think about the evolution of a sub-section of European animated film that reproduces the style of American blockbusters almost identically?
That the more films resemble American films, the more of a shame it is! It doesn’t just come from production, but from the choices of partners too, and I’m thinking here above all of television series, which have this increasing need for formatted products. I know I’m taking risks with  Anca Damian and Michaela Pavlátová’s films, because they are films with very different discourses. They shouldn’t just be supported by the CNC, but by television networks too, so as to offer TV viewers different experiences too.

(Translated from French)

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