Here are exclusive and in full on the Internet – for the Blog Of The Film – the short film Citizen Hero (B-Side), followed by the interviews of Christophe Perie, director and Aurélie Le roc’h, actress and co-writer, in order to better understand the universe of the film…
Credit photo @ Eric Cyclists – art Direction @ Jones.fr
We show you the latest short film from director Christophe Perie, Citizen Hero (B-Side), with Richard Keep, Aurélie Le roc’h, Yvette Small, Diouc Koma, Sophie Desvallons and Constantine Attia.
The film was written by Christophe Perie and Thomas Gunzig , with the participation of Jan Kounen and Aurélie Le roc’h. Yucca Films is in charge of production in association with Sony Playstation and Shorts International.
The pitch : Exploring the fragile frontier between heroes and anti-heroes, a team of reporters filmed the life of a man lost who cannot find employment, love chilled Anna Rodriguez Pereira, the girl who works at the video club, the son abandoned by his father and in charge of a mother reduced to a vegetable state. Black Horizon for this big kid too quickly grown up, that dream super-heroes, only with references to the films of Bruce Lee.
Citizen Hero (B-Side) / HD
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Interview of Chritophe Perie
Director / Screenwriter
Hi Christophe. The universe of the pub – where you come in – is it similar in the world of cinema in terms of achievement ? What are the main similarities and differences ?
Hi Yannick. It depends on where you are located in the world of advertising, and how you address it. When you’re a director, you will be working for a production company whose aim is above all to make a film, tell a story, convey emotions, this is not very different from the movie. How to sell the product to consumers ? That’s the work of the creative and commercial advertising agency, not mine. The main difference is the source of the project. Movie advertising is a movie of a command that does not belong to me, I’m not the author, and it is difficult to make something personal. Sometimes, some directors do this, but usually those choosing a career in advertising. Me, this is not my case. I prefer my film projects. But, there are also other cases of figures. The video, for example, is an object more personal, that I would have an easier claim, because I would be the author of the script, even if the record company and the artist have their say. At the cinema, I am sometimes pleasantly surprised to see how directors scenes are able to grab stories that are not their own. When I look at 99F of Jan Kounen, for example, I see in his universe, his paw, his obsessions, and even his quest for spirituality, then it is a command.
I imagine that these different achievements in the pub were able to bring you experiences ?
Rather, these are the encounters that I have made the best experiences. When I started working in advertising as an art director, I had the chance to work with Rémy Belvaux. We quickly befriended, and Remy has gradually become my “godfather” movie. It gave me the taste of freedom and laughter at a time of my life and at one stage of my journey or I felt sad and melancholy because the cover would not open, I had trouble finding the light.
I imagine that working alongside big names such as Luc Besson, M. Night Shyamalan, Ron Howard or Gus Van Sant’s first dream. A dream of a kid for you ?
I had the opportunity to work as assistant director, deputy, or assistant stage manager on the sets of these great american filmmakers. I was able to observe and understand their way of working for a few weeks, and then I realized, first of all, that we are in the same business in France and the USA, with, it is true, a difference of means. The filmmakers you cite are all guys who approach cinema in a different way. Ron Howard is a very good ” doer “, more or less engaged in the subjects he treats. It represents the industry of the american cinema, Hollywood, projects with great show, with a little luck, classes, and intelligent, but always calibrated to a very wide audience, and therefore to be relatively consensual and politically correct. While Gus Van Sant and Shyamalan are just about the opposite… of the independent, more engaged, and less politically correct, which I already feel a little closer to freedom. For Besson, I worked as artistic director on advertising, but I respect the director that he is, and that has given many hope in the years eighty and ninety. In general, I love the filmmakers who have a sincere attempt, regardless of the genre of their films, where the means they have. For me, the ambition of a film is not measured at the height of its budget, nor to the number of “stars” that are present there, but to its commitment vis-à-vis its subject, and its artistic quality.
Photo credit © Eric Cyclists
What have you retained / learned of “american Cuisine”, your first short, in order to realize Citizen Hero ?
On my first short film, I learned more humanly than technically. The technique, finally, this is only a question of learning, and it is perhaps this that interests me the least in the production of a film, although I am very demanding in terms of creative direction and image. On the other hand, I discovered I had a true love for actors, and pleasure almost enjoyable to drive and to film. Build a character in the writing of the film, give it flesh with the actor or actress that you have chosen, and see it evolve and grow with the work of readings, rehearsals, and shooting it is the greatest satisfaction and the most beautiful human experience that has brought me my shorts. I don’t understand these filmmakers who are more interested in the precision of the movement of their camera the quality of the game of their actors and the emotion that will emerge in the image.
Why this title of Citizen Hero at the fair ? Tribute to Citizen Kane, or I all wrong ? Because there is also a narration throughout the film, as well as flashbacks.
Yes, there is a little bit of it. I wanted a short title, in two words, as for my first short film. My character had a dual aspect : the average citizen by day and a hero distinct the night, and as there was a poster of “Citizen Kane” next to my desk, at home, I decided to call it ” Citizen Hero “. It would be very pretentious on my part to declare that my film is a tribute to Orson Welles, but let’s say that I had in mind when I wrote. Whenever I write I always have a lot of references to movies, scenes, dialogues, and atmospheres in the head, as I digest little by little to me the reallocating. And finally, I personalize so much of these influences that they do not finish more than to be vague canvases of funds sometimes could not be detected in my films.
How did the meeting with Jan Kounen and that he brought to the construction of Citizen Hero ?
As soon as he had agreed to be the sponsor of the “Citizen Hero,” Jan told me that he would be present at the writing of the film, and installation. He did not want to intervene in other phases of the making of the film, and I thank him for that. It was a way for him to tell the people of Sony Playstation -who initially advocated for a greater involvement of the sponsor in the process, both artistic and technical – that it was MY film, and I had to do it as I wanted. It is also the best way to learn and take a lesson from his mistakes. I think that this is the work of a good executive producer, he will tell you ” pay attention to this “, “pay attention to this,” but ” it is your movie, it is you who makes the final decision. “
Photo credit © Eric Cyclists
The choice of casting was done naturally ? Why Aurélie Le roc’h, for example ?
It is the character of Stéphane -the hero – who asked us the most problems. I’ve seen a lot of actors for the role. There were some very well-known, some have been rejected because of a scene in the film that I didn’t want to remove the scenario, it’s deemed shocking, or nonsensique compared with the character and the story. I thought just the opposite. Other actors have accepted, but have not been able to honour their commitment to professional or personal reasons. In any case, I thank them for what they have brought to the character, and for the time and commitment they have given to the film. And and then, one of the producers of the film, Sylvain n’guyen, called me one day and told me that there was this English actor, Richard Keep, he knew, and that it might be interesting to meet him. I called Richard and asked him to send me pictures of him. When I received it, I was impressed, although his physical type was not at all what I had in mind so far. I called back and we set a rendez-vous in Paris within the hour. We discussed around a glass of wine, for two hours, and I have to say that the man I was convinced. He told me about his life, his past, his sorrows, his joys, and he was very close to the character. I then made a phone call to Meriem Amari, the casting director of the film. It was just to spend a cast for two not coffee or we were with Richard, and told me that she could organize us a small test improvised. The poor Richard is expected to pass an end-of-test for the role while he had just discovered the script of the film and the character. I gave him two scenes to prepare in half an hour, and by indicating that if he had not the text on the fingertips, it was not serious, because we could improvise. When he took the two scenes he made us laugh, and we moved. I had found my actor. The rest of the casting was not very complicated, it was played more on the human encounters and that on tests, I already knew the work of some actors and I knew that I could trust them.
For Aurélie Le roc’h, this is another case of figure. We had met a year earlier, and although she had never performed a leading role in the film, she already had a lot of experience in the game, and I was certain that it would be the right actress for this character. Jennie is a woman of character, a real Spanish woman in the soul and in the blood, it makes me think of the female characters from Almodovar. This actress has potential of play and emotion is very strong, I find that it deals with its characters smart and subtle, and it’s great with it is that it always gives you more than you need, so just ask him or her to lift a little foot to get the emotion just right. I do not understand how the filmmakers and casting director had not yet revealed to the general public. We have a feature film project in common, and I hope that it will be an opportunity for the audience to discover it.
How long was the shoot ? Has it been challenging or difficult ?
We shot during four intense days, without practically ever having exceeded the schedule end-of-day scheduled each time. I want very much to comply with the timetable and the time frame of work. This was also the case on my first short film. First of all it must be said that the filming of “Citizen Hero” was very playful and funny. We have a lot of fun, because as we were shooting the scenes, I always tried to bring a touch of humour, burlesque, and offset that was not always present at the scenario that we had co-authored with Thomas Gunzig, with the participation of Aurélie Le roc’h and Jan Kounen. The actors, and in particular, Richard and Aurélie have accepted to follow me in this direction which could have made them seem a little confusing, and I thank them for it. The side experiencing a film such as “Citizen Hero” is that there is never the means to go after his ideas, as envisaged at the outset (the film’s budget is quite modest), and therefore it must constantly find solutions, and alternative ideas that work, that go in the direction of the film, and that don’t cost expensive. As for me, when I write and when I go to the movie in the head, I’m always full of ideas the more daunting to come back to Earth as of the creation process. I also love that my staff, artistic and technical, offering me a lot of ideas, even if we know in advance that we will keep that one, perhaps two. My creative thinking, it’s my freedom, can’t take that away from me.
Photo credit © Eric Cyclists
The film refers to one and only one hero : Bruce Lee. Why him ?
It is an important part of my childhood. He was my hero. It made me want to do martial arts, until I realized that I had neither his abilities nor his physical endurance ! (laughs), I then abandoned the idea of a career in martial arts and I understood that it is the hero of the film that I loved, not the man, because I know almost nothing about him, except what I could read in journals. Perhaps this is where I started to de-sanctify my hero and that I took my departure. I got rid of the spiritual father … We all need a hero, a model that allows us to believe in it, but it must be to have him let go of the hand to grow and change alone.
You can see clips from films by Jan Kounen in the film, as Vibroboy or his documentary Other Worlds. A kind of thank-you in the form of a blink of an eye ?
Quite. First, these are films that matter to me, Vibroboy was an unidentified object that landed in the universe of the short film in 1995 and that has paved the way, and Other Worlds is the courageous testimony of a man who wants to achieve a different spirituality. Because he had to do a documentary through which one proves to be so personal when you’re a filmmaker recognized and that one is called Jan Kounen. It is not as if he had done a documentary on the making of Kouign Amann breton by example ! He took a risk, and it was pleasant to me.
It feels Stéphane, the main character, totally disoriented, even to the border of the psychotic state. This has it been difficult to portray this kind of characters ?
For me this was not difficult because it was all in my head, and because the character bears the suffering and pain that have been mine at a time past. The more difficult it was to convey this state to Richard, down to the smallest details of his physical behavior, and we spent hours talking about it. This was to transpire in his game and image. This is also one of the reasons that pushed me to film most of the scenes in the camera to the shoulder, because it is a way of turning little binding to the actors, this allows them a greater freedom of interpretation. To successfully interpret such a character for an actor also depends on many gaming partners that you put in front of him. Without Aurélie Le roc’h, Yvette Small, Diouc Koma, or even Sophie Desvallons, Richard would not have been as convincing in the role.
Photo credit © Eric Cyclists
It also shows a bit of the reality of some people in the real world. I imagine that a lot of people are more or less confused, and above all completely lost as to the future of their lives.
In any case it was my reality, and like the character, I am a refugee in the universe of the fiction, in the cinema, in the movies, in video that we spent many evenings and weekends whole look with my brother Laurent. My vocation is born of these moments. First, I identified with the heroes of the films, the stories, and then when I figured out how these movies were made, as I enter the backstage, I felt good, and I don’t want to go back. When we screened the film for the first time in the theatres, a lot of people, of all ages and backgrounds are totally different, came to me and told me that they had been very affected by the film. My most beautiful memory, this is an older lady who came out of the room and told me that she had cried.
In fact, it is the story of a super hero who want to do it right, but that does everything poorly or awkwardly ? Until the moment when – in the scene in the nightclub – he realizes that he is in fact a human and not a hero.
Yes, this is the story of a man in search of identity and love, which is a super hero, but who is not.
For what a ” B ” version of the film ?
The film exists in two versions. The A version is a commissioned film, made in haste, in the time limits imposed by Sony Playstation but impossible to hold. His narrative is much more linear than that of the B version, and it does not suit me. The movie, in his version, had lost its character as atypical as Jan Kounen describes as “non-identified” on the movie poster. “Citizen Hero” was a film very difficult to ride for me. During the first phase of post-production, I couldn’t give him the shape that I wanted, it was quite confusing in my head, because I had not had time to take a step back from what I had shot and the emotions that I had expressed. We finished the film for Sony. Two months later, I decided to take up the torch and make my version of the ” Citizen Hero “, the ‘B-side’, the one that I had in the head, or in any case to me as close as possible. I then worked with a new post-production team, and especially with a great editor, Frédéric Baudet. This new post has also allowed me to discover artists that I knew little, but which I had decided to appeal Olivier Manganelli and Thomas Soymié design, sound, Fabrice Smadja, Pascal Ebony who have composed the music of the end credits. These are the talented people with whom I wanted to work in the future.
If I can allow myself, who is this Lili, to whom you dedicated “Lili with love” – this film in the beginning of the end credits ?
Has you guessing.
Interview of Aurélie Le roc’h
Actress / Co-screenwriter
Hello Aurélie. You are outcome of many worlds : theatre, dance, advertising, television, cinema. What is it that you want in the project of Christophe ?
Yes, small precision about the multi-universe that I’ve crossed : I wanted out of my degree in philosophy option in cinema and in my three years of drama classes see the extent of the acting profession. Indeed one cannot realize to what point this ability to play opens up the possible. Between a working movie set, clip, pub, theatre, contemporary, classical, or roaming, clown, mask etc….there are big differences. This first phase have been for me very rewarding, formative, and exciting, with all the misery that it entails…I have a lot to be served. You make newbie mistakes that you will not do it again then, you also find your universe. I am little by little close-up of filmmakers and theatre directors that fit me : directors acting outside pair, independent, quirky humour, and working with the jubilation, the sense of the absurd as the form. The authors of theatre, cinema or singular, non-formatted, lit from the inside, which do not have cold in the eyes. People who have a real universe and of the things to say, it is what interests me. I am not against entertainment, on the contrary, there is no contradiction between the auteur cinema and the entertainment, the entertainment is the icing on the cake, hand outstretched to the viewer to come have fun with us. And all that Christophe Perie a. His screenplay, written with the collaboration of the belgian Thomas Gunzig was already very attractive (a super-hero of the suburbs who can’t escape his super powers) but Christophe has done something very personal, it is brave, I like it. About the end, I wasn’t packed, so I offered alternatives that have been retained. Jan Kounen he advised Christopher to it without losing the uniqueness of his universe. We thank him for that. I was also much affected by the role I was offered : a girl lost between a love that is violent, destructive man indifferent very male (the excellent Diouc Koma), and our super-hero female-looser (Richard Keep). And then it has been an honor to work alongside Yvette petit, who has herself worked with Michel Gondry, Claude Berri…
Photo credit © Eric Cyclists
Hast thou also them that could put you “behind the camera” if I may say so with the achievement and the staging of a theatre piece, “Black Sun”. Is this different from a film ?
Well on all-optical technique, light etc is different, but this is not so different. The common point is that we need to keep the reindeer, always, border, or offend his sail, but never leave the ship, to unite the group, to reassure the anxious, not to let his anguish, it is very hard to take but Christophe Perie is made for it. His consistency, his stamina is such that we don’t really know what happens in it, then you can rest on his eyes, the trust is instant. It is an iron hand in a velvet glove. For my part I have suffered a lot in setting the scene, to my small level, “black Sun” was a montage of text of Marguerite Duras, C. Baudelaire, the philosopher Jankelevitch, A. Rimbaud, A. Cesaire, and C. Di Sanzio, jacques Prévert. A plea in favour of the difference, a critique of the fear of otherness (an actress who is deaf Kheira Lamada was playing its own role, there were also the roles of prostitute, the author, who has autism, a political refugee in short, a great cry of war). What was difficult was to keep in suspense, to keep the flame…it is not extinct. These challenges allow me to imagine better what the director saw, I crazy peace, I do my work very early on to be an actress very independent, with a force of proposal maximum. I don’t expect more than it gives me to eat in the game. But as Christophe is very attentive to the actors, and he gives a lot, I took the “more” that he has given me…and for Citizen Hero, the more was the least, a simplicity, a naturalness that I want to continue to explore.
To talk about news, you appear in the next film of Jan Kounen (him again), “Chanel & Stravinsky”, which comes out on our screens on January 6, 2010. How is this last one on a film set ?
Beyond being one of the best or even the best technician French, Jan Kounen is a very good director of actors. I found that iI had an instinctive approach to the game, it also sends in her silences, by her incredible eyes. I have not had to be too much to ask what there was to do, the simple fact that I feel confident enough. You can’t make up a creator like him, we are guided in silence and the rest follows. I was able to observe, also, that he never left anyone on the side, he has led 400 extras at the théâtre des Champs-Élysées with a lot of passion. His clear voice resounded in the theatre, he addressed all. On its plateau everyone felt concerned. Everyone gave the best. For the close-ups I have been impressed by his degree of concentration, he sees everything, hears everything, knows back on its axis with smooth, nothing resists it, he does not loose anything. And then, it framework, which is relatively rare, so there is a head-to-head fluid in the eyes to camera, in particular, without taking power, one feels immediately what it part and the placement of his camera is already a direction of the actor. I took a lot of pleasure to let go. You might think that it is necessary to bring a lot of technique, I’ve been wanting to put myself in the listening, and emotions are coming from themselves, there is a beautiful magic to it, it is what he has inside, his relaxation, his fluid, his confidence, his kindness which is on the actor.
Photo credit © Eric Cyclists
You’re co-screenwriter of Citizen Hero, in addition to being an actress. How did you the two hats ?
I have worked in two time. In the writing phase, I focused on the general philosophy of the script, especially the end, I did not write the dialogues. I played a role of listening, of council. Then I made a break to cut with the writing. I took a few days to discuss the role of Anna Pereira Rodriguez. We had some points in common, a particular sensibility, of common experiences. But it was more related to my past than my present. So I worked at ” the american “. The next latin come to me after, I tried to draw this for me, as there are latin, I made out the big character of Anna, and below, the frailty is traced to overflow onto the big character. I love the girls of the suburbs like that, which is blindent to resist in the middle, and sometimes cry without even realizing that tears flow. Their fragility feels to 4000 metres in the round and they are blindent, the more it shows. An armature of a warrior on a gaping wound. During the filming, the writing process, I came out of the head, he had the infinite pleasure to play and learn.
Photo credit © Eric Cyclists
One may see a certain Kamille Le roc’h in the end credits as a “Second Assistant Camera”. A link of the family I guess ?
A clarification about Kamille Le roc’h, my brother is a man. He participated in the film, but I didn’t. This is Christophe, who offered him to work on the film. A graphic designer by training, Camille is fascinated by the image. He completed his training at The Esra in the Image section, at the same time, it connects the stages and plateaus. It surprised me on a Citizen Hero. We have all seen, precise, on the move, drop down the cables with his legs of giraffes, and the speed of Speedy Gonzales. Beyond the affection that I give him and does not concern us here, Kamille has managed to adapt with professionalism and humor, confidence and humility. On all the trays I watch the work of technicians. It is fascinating to see evolve, technicians are conscientious, invested, convinced that the cinema remains one of the most beautiful vector of openness. A plateau it is a collective, each one is essential and the good technicians are a lot in the success of the project. It happens that the technicians do not feel concerned by the ongoing project for artistic reasons or other but here, they were one body with us, it is a vision that I find very healthy, this crew.
Interview by Yannick
Here are the contacts of Christophe Perie and Aurélie Le roc’h :