Anne-Marie Gélinas • Producer
“It is not more difficult to work in America than in Europe”
- Canadian producer Anne-Marie Gélinas discussed her forays into producing genre film as she presented her new project at the Frontières market
Montréal-based EMAFilms is no stranger to genre film. Even though the majority of its body of work has been achieved outside the boundaries of it – it has co-produced Thierry Binisti's A Bottle in the Gaza Sea and Kim Nguyen's Berlinale-awarded War Witch, and is now finishing off Raphaël Nadjari's Yzkor (read the news) – it has also been behind Martin Villeneuve's sci-fi title Mars & Avril, and Anouk Whissell, François Simard and Yoann-Karl Whissell's Turbo Kid, premiered this year at Sundance after passing through the Frontières Market in Montréal in 2012. Producer Anne-Marie Gélinas is now taking Eugene Garcia's new project, Jessie's Demons, to Brussels' Frontières International Co-Production Market, and we took the opportunity to talk to her.
Cineuropa: You are premiering your newest film after having taken it to the Frontières Market in 2012...
Anne-Marie Gélinas: Yes - we feel very fortunate. The filmmakers are originally from Québec, and so am I, but I didn't know them. They participated in a short-film contest in New Zealand, and they got noticed by the co-producer there, who said that if they were going to make a film together, they needed to come back to Canada to find co-producers. The best place for that was the Frontières market, and we met there, as well as meeting many other people. When we met, it was love at first sight; the stars aligned, and we started working together. Everyone who was involved in the project met during the market. It turned out really well: the film played at Sundance and SXSW, and we are now starting a European tour.
You are based in Canada, and you are now coming to Europe. Do you think projects that involve working between the two continents is the best idea at the moment?
The market has changed a lot since 2012. There is a lot less money in TV and world pre-sales, so it is more and more difficult to have a single producer producing. It is beneficial to have a co-producer and thus have more territories covered. It has to speak to two markets, and sometimes they are very different – and this automatically elevates the project. You have to please more people, and you widen the possible scope of the film. That can only benefit a film, also creatively speaking. Of course, we as producers have to be good partners from the start, which doesn't mean we can't disagree, but we end up finding the solution, which is the best idea for the film. This was evident in our Turbo Kid case, because on top of that, there were even three directors. So you open up the film, you access money in both markets, especially pre-sales, because they are worth more than acquisitions, and you elevate the creative side.
Are there any major differences between the American and the European markets?
There are very different cultures, but it is not more difficult to work in one than in the other. It is always difficult to make a film anywhere. You have to know the different markets. It would be easier to work alone because when you are in co-production, you have to agree on everything, so there is a little more work... But with the reality of the market, at some point, you just have to go ahead with that.
Are there different paths to tread when producing non-genre films and genre films?
Yes, most definitely. Genre films are, in a way, more difficult to make than regular drama. In regular drama, the filming process is very creative, and it is forgiving. If a scene doesn't work, you can correct it and improve it by reshooting it, or during the editing process. It is not that it is not creative in genre, but there, if in a comedy the joke doesn't work, it doesn't work. You have to cut it out. It's very unforgiving. You have to be a lot more prepared. The creative approach is very difficult. I don't mean to say that in drama, you can show up the first day without being prepared, but it's a different preparation process. There are more rules to follow in genre. Things have also got to be new, so the directors were watching every genre film to avoid repeating stuff that had already been done. That is another thing to take into account – the fans see every one of these things.
Is the cohabitation between the two types of cinema something that is quite new?
I think the audience is changing. The new audience that now comprises 30-year-olds, the new adults in the market, who have finished their studies, found a job and are now settled, are the new consumers. They have an eclectic taste; they like drama and genre. They have fun. They like everything, and they are very well informed. If they like genre, they have seen all the genre – that is what is changing. The audiences that are now over 60 years old, on their way to retirement, don't want to see genre... I saw this some years ago, and I did my first genre production with Mars & Avril, and I really enjoyed it. But we are also finishing a drama (Nadjari's Yzkor) that is beautiful, and I enjoyed that, too. There is room for both types of film, and this new audience proves it.
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