email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on reddit pin on Pinterest

LIM 2021

Antoine Le Bos • Founder and CEO, Le Groupe Ouest

“Storytelling is an art form that any human should master”


- According to the head honcho of Brittany-based Le Groupe Ouest, there is much more to storytelling than just entertainment

Antoine Le Bos  • Founder and CEO, Le Groupe Ouest
Antoine Le Bos (right) with Atiq Rahimi, who co-led StoryTANK season 2 with him (© Brigitte Bouillot/Le Groupe Ouest)

Located in Brittany, Le Groupe Ouest has coached more than 700 filmmakers and writers from over 50 countries, all the while creating LIM (Less Is More), a European development programme for limited-budget feature films, and StoryTANK, which brings together screenwriters and researchers. On 28 May, it will organise a conference on how storytelling can be an important part of the future of Europe, within the context of the New European Bauhaus. Le Groupe Ouest’s founder and CEO, Antoine Le Bos, tells us more.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Cineuropa: This whole idea of the “local utopia”, as you describe it on your website, started to make even more sense during the pandemic. Suddenly, people had to find solutions where they live.
Antoine Le Bos: In this industry, we tend to work within a certain financing system and a certain frame of mind. I noticed that being involved in international collaborations was much more interesting – people were open and less focused on power games. When we put these creative brains far away from their usual environment – in a small village, for example – they feel free. Here, we brainstorm for hours, walking on the beach and staring at seagulls.

The idea was to install a “paradise for writers” in a place where the landscape would help their creative process. Now, 15 years later, we coach 200 projects every year. The village [Plounéour-Brignogan-Plages] has become a place where screenwriters and filmmakers can test out their projects in front of each other, trying to understand what works and what doesn’t. The idea is to work collectively, to step out of this obsessive individualism that has marked our times. Making a film is not something you do for yourself – you do it for others. There is no arm wrestling here – just the sea, the beach and you. We have created a safe space where people can exchange their tools in order to tell a better story.

Sometimes, a writer’s residence is all about isolation. But in your case, Brittany is always mentioned. How did you approach the local community, making sure they were excited about this initiative, too?
We reached out to the villagers at the very beginning. Every time we go through the selection process, we have their jury, reading the scripts. Their approach is always interesting. Also, we ask people to present their projects to the villagers. Little by little, they became excited about these stories, and they cheer on their later successes. Before the pandemic, you would go to a local bar, and even the bartender would say: “The little girl? She is not the main character – the old man is.” It wasn’t always easy for the locals, though. For them, cinema meant Paris; it meant arrogant people. Now, a farmer has told us that we have brought hope to their kids. They see there is a future here. The mayor asked us to put posters of the characters and dialogues written here all over the village. It’s all a part of it now.

It’s common knowledge that 95% of France’s film industry is based in Paris,” you state. What would need to be done to change these figures?
More and more people are running away from Paris. Today’s situation, with COVID-19 and the environment, has showed us that change is needed. The stories we are generating here are not just for film funds or the industry – they are supposed to reach people. In order to do that, we need to step out of our bubble.

That’s why we created StoryTANK, for example. In times of trouble, stories are as important as bread – without them, we perish. We wanted to help screenwriters understand their job better and more deeply, but storytelling is an art form that any human should master. Citizens, politicians – you name it. On 28 May, we will have a conference on how storytelling can be an important part of the future of Europe, all within the context of the New European Bauhaus initiative. Storytelling is more than just entertainment, despite what American films would seem to suggest. Good films can change your vision of life, or of how you want to raise kids. We want to regain it. We have been asking people about the role of stories in their life, and a griot [West African troubadour-historian] from Senegal said: “Stories are supposed to help us live.” In Latin America, they say that stories are there to cure, to help you get better. We went from setting up this utopian village for writers to figuring out how this way of thinking could be used by citizens all over the world.

Your brand is clearly changing, so how would you like it to grow?
We are constantly collaborating with other countries in Europe, most recently with ARTE and TV2 Denmark on creating this laboratory to boost creativity in series. It’s about understanding how the process works and how to find new ways to stimulate the brain. It’s not about writing – it’s about expanding the field of possibilities. Working in groups is essential for that because human interaction is a gift. Such exchanges always create brand-new meanings, and in Europe, luckily, so many countries share the same goal. That’s why we create pre-writing workshops, too: we want to help each other grow.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy