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Jean Cottin • Producer

"All in the same boat"


- Producer Jean Cottin recalls the Turning Tide adventure, which is being released in theatres and mentions The Gate, Régis Wargnier’s next film

Jean Cottin • Producer
Jean Cottin, photo by Yann Riou

Manager of the Parisian company Les Films du Cap which he directs with Laurent Taïeb, experimented producer Jean Cottin successfully led the unconventional production of Turning Tide [+see also:
interview: Jean Cottin
film profile
by Christophe Offenstein (read the article) starring François Cluzet.

Cineuropa: How did you begin the adventure of Turning Tide, filmed entirely at sea?
Jean Cottin: We studied all the options, including filming in a studio, but it would have been very expensive and it wasn’t what we wanted to do artistically. The story is based on the Vendée Globe, a real race. It tells the story of skipper going around the world alone and who will face a human incident: a clandestine is hiding in his boat. We thought that if we had to recreate an 18 meter-long boat in a studio, with water ramps and hydraulic cylinders for the waves etc, it would be completely crazy. Very rapidly, we said to ourselves: “if we do this, we do it all the way.” So on top of the cinema project, we pretty much set up a sailing project. We bought a real race boat that had competed in the Vendée Globe four years ago. We integrated all the issues of security and organisation. It was a struggle for the preparation and filming, but it brought us closer: we were all on the same boat! The adventure we were filming, we lived it by creating it. It gives more soul and strength to the film. We were blessed with beginners’ luck and I don’t think we would do it again.

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Did you face any difficulties to get the funding (a budget of 16 M€)?
Objectively, in terms of what we did, the film wasn’t excessively expensive. At the beginning, it was difficult because people would tell me: “a project about sailing? Who is going to be interested?” The first step was convincing people that before making a film at sea on a boat, it was about a story of cinema, games, actors and emotions. Then, the Vendée Globe is a sports race with enough cinematographic ingredients: adventures, emotions and skippers who are seen as heroes by the public. I was also really helped by Gaumont whose boss, Sidonie Dumas, trusted me straight away. The main partners are Gaumont, Canal+ and TF1 on the French side, A Contracorriente for Spain and Scope Pictures in Belgium. And in the end, our artistic gamble became a marketing tool. That is to say: “look! We really did it!” Today, the public needs things that are made with sincerity.

You are also preparing The Gate by Régis Wargnier, whose filming should start at the beginning of 2014 ?
It is an adaptation of the story of François Bizot, a specialist in the Khmer civilization, who was arrested in 1973 by the Khmer Rouge guerrilla. Believed to be an American spy, he was detained in a prison camp that later became an extermination camp. But he bonded with the camp’s chief who finally liberated him. And this person is famous he was Douch, the man who later became responsible for the S21 camp in Phnom Penh. 35 years later, Douch was arrested and tried by the International Criminal Tribunal and called on the Frenchman to testify on his behalf. The film is about the confrontation of these two men, with this Frenchman who owes his life to an executioner and the existential doubts this brings up. The film was budgeted at 5M€ and Gaumont, France 3 Cinéma, Belgian company Scope Pictures and Eurimages are partners. It was coproduced in Cambodia by Rithy Panh. In fact, a Franco-Cambodian coproduction agreement is being set up. Raphael Personnaz will play François Bizot and Olivier Gourmet the French consul.

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(Translated from French)

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