Yann Gilbert • Producer
by Bénédicte Prot
05/05/2005 - Yann Gilbert, the producer of Tout pour plaire [trailer], agreed to meet Cineuropa, in presence of the director, in the office of the company he funded in 2000, La Mouche du Coche Films. He has already produced Le ciel, les oiseaux et... ta mère ! by Djamel Bensalah (1998), a film which sold over a million tickets, and Ma caméra et moi by Christophe Loizillon (2001). He is delighted, though not all surprised, by the success of Cécile Telerman’s film —a million admissions in only three weeks. He lets the director talk about the content of the film, and focuses on his role as a producer.
Cineuropa : When did you start working on Cécile Telerman’s project ?
Yann Gilbert : She showed me a draft more than three years ago ; I immediately liked it and it had some crucial qualities from a producer’s point view. First, I have known Cécile for some time now —I used to see her at the CNC when she was working there— and I saw she was serious and, most of all, ready. Secondly, it is a comedy, which is, in France, a popular genre, more popular than drama ; so commercially, this project was quite reliable, especially since at least one of the roles entailed a famous actress —which appeared to be one of our best advantages. After more than a year spent working on the script, which had become, I reckon, excellent, Cécile suggested a cast and since I totally approved it —I never interfere with the director’s artistic choices anyway—, I did my best and pulled some strings to get in touch with Mathilde Seigner. Convincing her was not difficult —she loved the script, and since Mathilde is a very determinate person, she agreed right away. From then on, I knew the film would work. I see the production of a film like a maieutic process, the key of which is a good understanding between the director and the producer. When this understanding exists, half of the work is done —and it is not the easiest part, to understand, to really ‘dig’ what the director wants, especially since he or she does not always know it exactly him- or herself, or how to explain it. Producer and director must be complementary. My work is to trust the (right) directors on the artistic front, evaluate the costs and the time the film will take, and find the money.
How long did it take to complete the budget?
Despite quite a big budget (€5.3M) for a first film, it did not take more than six months. I am an independant producer, so the film was rejected a few times, but financers were generally easy to convince. The presence of Mathilde Seigner was quite an asset. Soon enough, Michel Saint-Jean, from Diaphana, accepted to distribute the film and Diaphana provided for a €400,000 guaranteed minimum for the theatre release, and €200,000 for the DVD. With such a quality script, the required format for a prime-time, a good cast, and a good distributor, it was not difficult to get support from a terrestrian TV channel (France 3 Cinéma), a pay-channel (Canal +) and find our Belgian coproducers (Saga Film and RTL). In general, the hardest part in financing is to find the last scraps to really complete the budget. And we were not supported by European funds such as the advance-on-admissions Ma caméra et moi had received, which is fair, since it is a selective help. The regional fund Île-de-France could have helped us, since the application is not based on qualitative criteria, but it did not happen. The budget for a first movie has a ceiling anyway.
Has Tout pour plaire already been bought by foreign distributors ?
Yann Gilbert : Yes, it was sold to Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Spain, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, and Africa. It is being negotiated with Italy and Germany.
As a conclusion, what is your favourite film ?
Definitely Les galettes de Pont-Aven by Joël Seria (1975) ! Jean-Pierre Marielle is terrific in this film, totally extravagantly grandiloquent !