In the film, the journey of a filmmaker can be hectic, especially if the latter has chosen the alternative route, where instead of the route “cinema bis”. Back on the tumultuous career of Julien Richard-Thomson, flag-bearer of the thought “Do it yourself” became a cult for its series Z schoolboy of the 90’s.
You didn’t have twenty years ago that you were turning the already feature-length films, you are a child of the image.
Yes, I first held a camera at the age of nine years ; at the time it was the small super 8 my parents and I have to believe that I’ve quickly taken a liking. I have directed some forty short films in super 8, then super 16 by improving my technique over the years; and during my studies, I moved on to feature films on video. By this approach, I wanted to show that the democratization of video and the technical means that could allow the resourceful and the determined to make movies, make their movie. The quality of the picture and sound were not great, not really the professional level, but my films reflect the energy of a passionate, barely twenty years old.
JURASSIC TRASH, TIME DEMON, titles redolent with the kind and the bis.
Yes, we had budgets between 1500 and 5000 euros, so to say nothing. I had created an association law 1901 for the production of these films, it is a good way to turn independently when we do not have access to commercial finance. But these movies were sponsored by Jean-Pierre Putters, which at the time was the editor-in-chief of Mad Movies, and it gave a little boost to the projects. The result is that journalists such as Damien Granger or Christophe Lemaire would play small roles, funny, nazis, or mad scientists. This side is film friends a bit foutraque, it contributes to the charm of the B series, but it also teaches you how to have to do a lot with a little. I remember for example that about Time Demon, we were shooting thirty kilometers from Paris in a disused factory and that, therefore, we had to move all morning in the RER with the equipment in our backpack. When we arrived on site, the whole team was already tired !
But the world did not see the film genre of the same eye as the team of Mad Movies ?
No, in fact, today I think that a young enthusiast who embarks on a project “Do it yourself” is not necessarily evil, considered by the professionals as by the public. At the time, I really felt a misunderstanding on the part of some; they imagined that I was an amateur who didn’t do anything, or even an old fashioned nostalgic of the cinema of the district, then the truth is that I benefited from these shoots for me to try it out. Other I have even considered an extremist, a filmmaker provocative and pretentious, greedy gore, flirting dangerously with the underground film scene, all because we had committed to former stars of the X for the buzz, and that, I admit, the quality of the video evoked the X amateur, which appeared at the same time. If these spectators were not content to extrapolate from the three images and that they had really seen my films, they would have realized that it was films parody good child, with the worst of both bloodshed and three plans topless.
Beyond the labels “a “, “series B” or ” Z “, this misunderstanding on the part of the business, was it not the fact that you declare openly with these films, your desire to make it fantastic ?
Very definitely. After this period of the 90’s, and I’ve never had the chance to access the top step, that is to say, have real budgets of professionals. I clearly felt that I was ostracized by decision-makers because of my taste for film genres. I want to defend a cinema of the imagination but this area was then regarded as puerile in France ; it was estimated that the use of the fantastic into a narrative was a weakness in writing, such as a facility born from the mind of a kid who imagines the stories in his corner. I think that a huge misunderstanding has been going on for years between writers like me and investors who believed that there was no discourse on the reality, on the problems of the daily life in our stories. Yet the fantastic lets play on universal themes and timeless, which is juxtaposed or superimposed, a element, dissonant, supernatural. In my scenarios of SF or anticipation in fact I think the problems of our contemporary society; the “genre” can be a great way to address social issues or economic.
So far I had the impression that the problem was due to the fact that the profession was reduced to a microcosm of people not necessarily curious and bold, but I have the impression that things are changing and I sense a tremor in the genre French. The generations are renewed among producers; I observed that the seminars, meetings, and directives from the NCC concerning the genre cinema multiply. It is already a beginning.
Does it not just in the collective imagination, a difficulty throw of the fantastic tales in the French ambience ?
It is precisely with the a priori, such as this one the writers are restricting their creativity and does not allow to write the fantastic. I am aware that the charm of the genre comes, in part, the change of scenery that it offers to the public, I myself would have a hard time to enter fully into a story of the supernatural if it was shot at the corner of my street. But France has backgrounds and very different ambiances in which one can let their imagination roam free, whether it be in a rural environment as the heart of a great city. For example, I wrote a whole scenario in which the action takes place in the port of Marseille; I would sit in a corner and watched the dockers to work for hours while taking notes, in the end I had developed an entire film infected. Same observation for Paris, which has never really found its place in the genre French. Instead of clear identity in order to write a story that could just as easily happen in London or New York, or any metropolis, I wrote a film in sketches where each segment evokes a cliché associated with Paris : the fashion, the metro, the gastronomy, etc…
You think that institutions like the CNC must evolve in order to better promote the diversity of genres ?
According to me, the first measure that the CNC should be put in place is to open the juries of the selective aid (advances on receipts, etc.) to a quota of spectators, non-professional, drawn at random from a list of volunteers. This would certainly broaden the range of genres supported, and this would be a fair return compared to the spectators who fund largely to the CNC, through a tax on the price of tickets. This principle could also apply in the juries of the Regions that award grants.
I also think that it is necessary to facilitate the distribution of films so that they can better meet their public. Today, most of the films remain very little time displays, we should consider facilitating other modes of dissemination and, in particular, VOD is legal, which is struggling to develop in France. The chronology of the media should be reviewed, in 2 months, the minimum legal output between the rooms and the VOD. Because of this, the publicity around the film at its release could be more effective; people who have missed the theatrical release, limited or even confidential a film, will be able to quickly take advantage of the film on the internet in good conditions.
And speaking of VOD, I think that it is necessary to develop the aid for e-cinema. There’s a whole circuit of productions with small budgets, especially in genre cinema, which does not have access to operating rooms. It would therefore be appropriate to encourage the development of this mode of diffusion, which can represent a real opportunity for the independent production.
And you, how have you evolved since your beginnings as a filmmaker ?
There are twenty-five-year-old, I took a tone of slapstick in my films parody, I wanted to make it openly tribute to the various aspects of exploitation cinema. Today my mood a writer and producer have evolved beyond this simple exercise style repository. Beyond the fantastic cinema, I’ve learned over the years to diversify my influences, and to tap into various media such as the comic or the TV series. I am always interested in risk-taking in the tone and the rhythm of the narration, in this domain the series Fargo has fascinated me for example. Otherwise, when I’m not in front of a book or a screen, it is as I wander in the Palais de Tokyo, I love this place because the facilities of contemporary art, awaken my senses and my mind. A mood, an impression, a sensory experience provoked by this place is often born of the starting points of my scenarios.
After twenty years of attempts, yet you continue to write, turn and offer your ideas to producers ?
Yes, I keep in a corner of my head the idea of turning again with a very limited budget, because since my years as a “video” things have changed a lot, and even without money, it was at least available today, picture quality and its suitable. You can also take advantage of the benefits of crowdfunding these days, and I had also started a project with this type of financing in 2014 titled Korruption. I had even started to turn this dark comedy, when a campaign of defamation launched by groups of the extreme right, was widespread in the press. My detractors have accused me of making a porn illegal in the town hall of Asnières ! Of the great anything ! The filming was abruptly interrupted and I have never been able to finish my film; then forcing now, I’m still smarting and I can’t get in the first project crowdfunding that I would come to mind.
In addition, I continued to write, and to propose scenarios by trying different kinds and especially different ways of approaching the producers. At this moment, I am developing two ideas for adaptations, one literary, the other came from the culture TV of the 90s. I won’t say more, except that it is sometimes necessary to lean on a reputation and a potential pre-existing to give a resonance to his own work.
Interview by Arkham