"The only way forward is to be original"
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Jean-Christophe Reymond • Producer, Kazak Productions
The French Producer on the Move looks back on his career and discusses his line-up - including Titane - his projects and the current state of the market
The founder of Kazak Productions in 2007 who now finds himself selected for the European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move initiative, French producer Jean-Christophe Reymond is currently overseeing work (in league with his associate Amaury Ovise) on Manele Labidi’s Arab Blues [+see also:
interview: Manele Labidi
film profile] and Julia Ducournau’s soon to be unveiled title Titane [+see also:
interview: Julia Ducournau, Vincent Li…
film profile], not to mention films coming courtesy of Clément Cogitore, Nicolas Sihol, Virgil Vernier, Vincent Mariette and Teddy Lussi-Modeste.
Cineuropa: How did you become a producer?
Jean-Christophe Reymond: It was when I was 20 years old that I first realised it was an option to work within this sector, rubbing shoulders with filmmakers and helping to create their works. I thought it would be an amazing job to do. I was at business school at the time and I applied to La Fémis, to learn about production. Until then, I’d merely been a viewer of films, mostly on TV at that, and my expertise was mostly limited to Spielberg and independent 90s films: Abel Ferrara, Claire Denis and Larry Clake rather than Truffaut, Dreyer or Bergman. I learned a lot about production direction at La Fémis. In fact, I still work with a number of the directors I graduated with, such as Nicolas Sihol and Teddy Lussi-Modeste. The next step was to learn what it really meant to be a producer, first via two years at Aurora Films and then by creating Kazak Productions. Since then, Amaury Ovise and I - who joined me as an associate producer - have produced 50 short films and around a dozen feature films, always trying to evolve alongside our authors.
How would you describe Kazak’s editorial line?
We’re primarily committed to authors whose short films we have worked on and whom we’re continuing to work with on their feature films. They’re the ones who come to us with proposals. I’ve always been an advocate of radicality, and that can apply to comedies just as much as to genre films or arthouse films. It’s not a divisive word, it just means that when there are lots of films on the market, you have to try to stand out from the crowd and to always have the most finely tuned and most unique proposal as possible in your hands. This is the case for Titane, for Arab Blues within its genre, for Clément Cogitore (The Wakhan Front [+see also:
film profile]), who is set to begin shooting his second feature film La Goutte d’Or in June [read our news], and for all the others. We don’t format works, we don’t necessarily have happy endings in our films, or impressive casts. But five years of writing went into Titane and La Goutte d’Or, for example. It’s a very long process when it comes to second films, but the demands we make in terms of the screenplay help us to obtain funding in very challenging times.
What does the future hold for the film industry, in your opinion?
The only way forward is to be original. I’m of the firm opinion that cinemas will go on to attract huge numbers of viewers and that their offerings are entirely separate from those of streaming platforms. Cinemas, platforms, VoD, Canal+, etc.: they quite simply offer a very wide range of works which are all perfectly capable of coexisting. But in terms of series, cinema viewers or TV film viewers want to see products which have clearly been worked on in terms of the screenplay, the images, the sound - crucial factors which series don’t tend to work on very much. There’s a real difference, a qualitative element at play, but we also need to stick to reasonable budget levels. Of course, the landscape is changing, and funding is shrinking, but I believe we do always get there with our authors, regardless of the distribution channel or the desires our directors have.
What films are you currently working on?
In post-production terms, there’s Titane by Julia Ducournau and Murder Party by Nicolas Pleskof (read our article). Filming on La Goutte d’Or will begin in June, as mentioned, and that on Antisquat by Nicolas Silhol (Corporate [+see also:
interview: Nicolas Silhol
film profile]), starring Louise Bourgoin, will begin in October. We’re also minority co-producers of AEIOU by German director Nicolette Krebitz (steered by Komplizen Film), which is due to film in France for a week in July, as well as on Corsage by Austrian director Marie Kreutzer (news), which is set to wrap filming in July.
Your first European co-production was Roads [+see also:
film profile] by Sebastian Schipper (2019). Is this a route you wish to explore further?
I’m not scouring the markets looking for projects to co-produce. It’s all governed by meeting and finding affinities with producers and filmmakers, as well as the quality of their artistic proposals and their work. There are a number of European producers, notably in Germany, Denmark and Switzerland, whom I’ve forged excellent relationships with and whom I hope to work with in the future, as soon as the right projects come along.
(Translated from French)
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