Thierry Spicher • Producer
by Mathieu Loewer
14/10/2008 - After Jean-Stéphane Bron’s debut feature (Mon frère se marie [trailer, film focus]), Thierry Spicher and Elena Tatti decided to produce Ursula Meier’s debut work, Home [trailer, film focus], for Box Productions. While the film is being released in French-speaking Switzerland (Filmcoopi Zürich AG) and France (Diaphana Distribution), two other productions by the newly-founded company are being completed: Andrew Kötting’s Alexander Ivul and Donatella Bernardi’s Les héritiers de la Comtesse (“The Countess’ Heirs”).
Cineuropa: What attracted you to Ursula Meier’s project?
Firstly, Ursula herself, her generous and stimulating personality; her determination to take the project forward; and her previous films – her shorts, documentaries and TV drama, Strong Shoulders.
When she came to see us three years ago, this project had been evolving for quite some time: her screenplay won an award in 1997! It is in fact a highly personal “debut film”, for which she single-handedly wrote the treatment before collaborating with several screenwriters. Her fascinating writing – which immediately draws you in – gave rise to a film in tune with her directorial style, characterised by its intimate camerawork, its focus on the body and the alternation between wide and narrow-angle shots.
Was it difficult to secure the €5.5m budget?
Yes and no. We set the ball rolling with the public subsidies and then other sources of funding quickly poured in as usual. The budget was finalised two weeks before the start of shooting with an advance on receipts from Eurimage.
There are often parallels between a film’s production and its reputation once completed: you never really know what triggers the spiral of events. We were able to count on the expertise of our French co-producer, Archipel 35, who have around 30 films and a Palme d’Or (for the Dardenne brothers’ The Child [trailer, film focus]) to their name. The participation of actors Isabelle Huppert and Olivier Gourmet also helped us attract financing, but above all the film stood out due to the strength of its screenplay and the reputation of Ursula Meier.
How did you maintain control of the project given that you co-produced Home with France and Belgium?
In Switzerland, we thoroughly explained that we could play a significant role provided that we obtain the maximum amount of funding available – for even in this case it would only represent 35% of the budget. And with our European colleagues, we intended to put together a true co-production. In financial terms, that means we share everything: our own territories, the risks of going over budget, etc. We also tried to divide up the work according to our competencies. Box Productions handled the preparation, Archipel 35 managed the shoot and Belgian company Need Productions the post-production. In fact, we were able to maintain control because we decided to share it.