We met Jérémie Renier and Yannick Renier, the two brothers well-known players, who are CARNIVORES, their first feature film. Very accomplices, and in a very good mood, they spoke to us about their exciting first experience behind the camera.
CARNIVORES is the first feature-length film co-directed by brothers Jérémie Renier and Yannick Renier. Met in Bordeaux during the presentation of their film, they have told us with much humor, humility and balance, speech (the bouncing always on the idea of the other) of the birth and the evolution of their project, the kindness they have received and which they have tried to show, from their vision of achievement and their work with the actors.
Where do you come up with this idea to co-direct, and why did it take 7 years to achieve it ?
– Yannick Renier : After you have turned Bare Property of Joachim Lafosse, Jeremiah was to be found. It was of course different and at the same time it is in the same business, and this difference is complementary. Initially, the idea was thus planted in our minds to work in two, without specifically to achieve both a feature film. It was first and foremost a reflection, the desire for Jeremiah to realize, and for me the desire to write. Then things are put in place gently and then more and more intense for the past four years. It is after that came up the topic of siblings, the question of the success of the two brothers, and two sisters. It took seven years because we are both very busy with our profession of actor, to the theatre and cinema.
You have abandoned the idea of a comedy for the benefit of the psychological thriller ? For what reasons ?
– Jérémie Renier : Very soon we are off on a basis of our relationship, our history, and many anecdotes of the cinema, and then even if it made us laugh a lot, we said that we didn’t want to talk about the cinema, or a cinema movie, and on what has been experienced. Soon we wanted to go further, in a fantasy or a projection of what we have not lived. We had a desire to go towards something more profound, more hidden, more hard and more dark with the original report in a family, in a family, where there is one of the two who has the impression that the following has taken the place of the other. Very quickly the thriller is imposed, because the codes of the thriller as a means to support even more the aggression, the tension, the violence of these two sisters give. From the outset we wanted an end that is tragic.
Yet, your film opens on a first scene of a comic ?
– Jeremiah R : Yannick has lived it and it has been transcribed ! It was interesting to show how it may be strange or grotesque, difficult or unpleasant to speak with someone who pretends to be a horse. It is necessary to have a distance, a love clean well placed. When meeting with Mona, we can see that it is there, one feels that she wants to and she is willing to fight for it.
– Yannick R : C’as in Mulholland Drive, there is a stage of casting, and the actress plays a scene from a soap not very good, and all of a sudden the attitude changes and we see the film. The idea for us was to start the movie speaking of cinema, with an anecdote, a casting. But at a given moment, although she talks to a fake horse, one is taken by the emotion and by the actress, and it switches from comedy to something more serious and more profound, more essential.
Your film is produced by the Dardenne brothers, whose kind of cinema is quite far away from yours ?
– Jeremiah R : They have this intelligence that we have listened and carried to where we wanted to go without imposing anything. They have pointed locations in the scenario that raised issues, and that made us, or not change things. But we have never had this weight, because that one is surrounded by people of talent, that we love and have had a look and this kindness especially in my regard because I know them since I was a child.
It is Sam who is devouring the space but this is Mona, one that is in the shade, which is the most carnivorous
You talk about the report of an elder sister with her younger sister, have you done any research on the place in the siblings ?
– Yannick R : No, but the best research is the family ! We also have two sisters also and we see our families. It is true that it is characteristic of the elder, younger, all those who have a brother or a sister going through conflicts, our personalities are constructed in relation to our brothers and sisters.
Can you tell us about your bias to be in the head of Mona, and the coldness of the setting and the light in the service of his personality?
– Jeremiah R : Since the framework was for us the spirit of Mona, it was very quickly realized that we didn’t want to cut the film in every sense. It was necessary for the framework to follow it also. We wanted something a little oppressive, thanks to these frameworks, which are very wide. With the tracking shots are very slow, they symbolize the character choked and content, which does not happen to hatch. The main character is very opaque to what happens to him, it is very mysterious, it takes on it all the time. It has also worked with the étalonneuse the colors and the lights a bit blue and that change as Mona flourishes and touches to his happiness.
– Yannick R : So that it is Sam who catches fire and who is going to break everything, you should feel Mona as a cooking pot on the fire, something that starts out slowly and end slowly. At the outset one has the impression that it is a calm water, but the idea was to make it emerge little by little, the desire, the lust and the envy of Mona. And then there is a sense that what happens in the stagnant water of the big sister is dangerous, and our way of filming the light is also a way to tell the viewer ” everything is fine “, take it by the hand and bring it slowly toward the end.
– Jeremiah R : The film’s title evokes also the idea of territory, of hunting, of the danger that fear and especially with the s of the plural we wanted to play throughout the film with the viewer to lose a bit on who is the prey who is the predator, who is the victim and who the executioner. It is Sam who is devouring the space but this is Mona, one that is in the shade, which is the most carnivorous.
How did you choose the actresses Leila Bekhti (Mona), Zita Henrot (Sam) and Hiam Abbass (The mother) ?
– Jeremiah R : For the character of Sam, this is Leila Bekhti, that we knew, that has passed testing. He had to find a duo and very quickly there was a chemistry with Zita Henrot, a look of benevolence on the other. It was important for us who have played together, because it allowed us to go further in our mode of creation. Because having confidence and felt free with the person in front, with which we are going to play in the intimacy, that we are going to show our emotions and even physically touch. The most beautiful gift that the actresses have done to us, beyond their game and their investment, it is the trust and love they gave to us to be able to make this film.
– Yannick R : Leila is best known in roles more light. She radiates something nice, very nice, chatty even. She moves. We wanted to keep and use its nature, perceptible in the watermark, but it has taken her to more restraint. She worked hard to build a different body, a different approach, a phrasing different. And same for Zita, who had not yet had the opportunity to show a part of it more exuberant, more sexual, more seductive. We are also what we like as an actor, it is to go to places or roles, we do not offer from the outset, to explore parts of ourselves less often shown.
– Jeremiah R : About Hiam Abbass, this is a super actress, a very cultured and literate. There was a need to have a strong personality, which could be between the two girls, a little overwhelming. We had imagined that his character was someone with an incredible amount of force, which we understand that she has lost her husband and that she had to raise alone her two daughters. We were looking for a mother to have this frustration at not having succeeded in life, who transmits it to his daughters in which she is projected, which creates a certain imbalance between them.
One of your characters, Brozec, is a director who has pretty violent with his players, have you encountered such directors in your career ?
– Yannick R : Yes, there are actually developers that are very hard in their guidance and that pervert with the actors and actresses. But our desire was to paint a picture strong enough of a director who is able to attract these two actresses. We wanted to play with the clichés of cinema, because now the public is aware of what happened behind-the-scenes of such a film with such an actress and such director. Via the film Brozec it flirts with the fantasy of Mona, his desire and his desire to make films. It is something that affects less fantastic than the dream. She dreams the life of her sister, she wants a dream life, she does not realize what is really his sister wrong, but she can’t understand what she is going through.
– Jeremiah R : We thought directors such as Lars van Triers who make film experiences. There was a need to have a director who does dream about Mona, who has a school curriculum and literary, and has made the Conservatory. She is fascinated by this character who makes films completely crazy and not visible to the public, but which has a footprint. Sam does not have this design, we imagined that it landed in front of a guy where she does not understand the codes or how it reacts. It is in a place more changeable, less stable, and we wanted a figure of a stage director and all-round artist who is himself sets.
What is it that you find most hard in the role of producer, and what advantages and disadvantages have you encountered to achieve both ?
– Jeremiah R : to become a filmmaker, even if it is very exhilarating, it is constantly having to bounce back. Making a film is a journey, with moments where one is alone with his subject, his art, his desire, his doubts in the face of teams, producers, creditors. There it was discovered to both the craft of filmmaking, and it is for that to be two it is very pleasant because it is not the only one to take all of these gusts on the boat when it’s pitching. It is nice to be able to support at certain times, and necessarily go through it with someone you love, you feel stronger, they share as well the moments of doubt, of joy.
– Yannick R : Le the more hard it is to take on this work in the long term. In each there are things harder, like having to talk to a team and having to manage different personalities. But it has always done everything in 4 hands, it was just trying to find bubbles of intimacy to build both, always both be in agreement of what we wanted to do and to do then talk with a single voice, either at the technical or actresses, or producers.
Making a film, it is a crossing and it is for that to be two it is very pleasant because it is not the only one to take all of these gusts on the boat when it’s pitching.
How have you worked with your cinematographer Georges Lechaptois ?
– Jeremiah R : We wanted a film with an aestheticism fort, suddenly there were technical constraints, heavy enough, that it was imposed in terms of production. The dialogue that the chief operator must have with the director is important because he must find what he has in his head, and it is there that he must learn the same technical language. We needed a bit of time for our chief operator understands our desires and what we had in mind.
– Yannick R : I discovered that for a first movie, it is really important to surround yourself of good technicians, because they can give us the benefit of their experience, without for all that we crush. Without the economy to some errors, we must try to better his own sensibility of a director who is in the process of being born. At a time of the shooting, Jeremiah and me we were lost and exhausted, and asked at Georges Lechaptois: “you, what would you do ?” and his response was, ” this is your film friends, it is up to you to make these choices ! “It’s great to be able to say that because he followed us, it was a lesson.
Your gaze as an actor since this realization has changed ? Are you more understanding of the work of the director ?
Heart : Yes, really !
– Jeremiah R : Every actor should be a day to go to the fair already to understand what a film, the time and energy that it takes. As an actor, even if one has an understanding of the plateau of the technique, it is supported during a time period defined by the work plan, and one does not consider the overall investment of the developer in terms of time, investment, preparation, advancement of production, loss of scenery, casting changes. The goal of an actor is to be available at the time you ask him and be invested in his character and in his small person and it is true that sometimes we forget what there is around, not understanding. We stay with our own frustration, our own neuroses, and we forget that the director has so much more things to manage.
– Yannick R : There is more understanding because we know what it’s like to be the face to the camera and to be very dependent on the benevolence of the person who is watching. Jeremiah and I both felt a day the discomfort of not knowing how to play a scene, do not know how to do it, to feel that heart beating faster, sweating and the people around you don’t see it, we pretend. Knowing that, we could talk with our players and try to tell them ” it is a path, this is not serious, use the state in which you are to be able to perceive that it is something difficult to bare, to show. It really is important for that loving gaze, to reassure the players. When we pass to the other side of the camera, one understands that there is a shared responsibility : the actor does not have all the responsibility of the scene, the director will play on other tables, such as the light, the story. There is also the spectator who is going to make his own movie in his head. So for me it has allowed me to realize that as an actor I couldn’t wear everything.
Are you ready to renew the experience ?
– Yannick R : Por my part, there I start again to have the urge so it has been a catharsis ! This is not anything to be with her brother that we love and to tell this story, I’ve left feathers and at the same time I feel lighter. I want the film to meet its public and we can take advantage of that and then if in us the seed of a fancy joint, I hope that we will be able to get on with.
– Jeremiah R : And if we made a sequel… it will be called Vegans !
Interview by Sylvie-Noelle