[interview] Laurent Morley, director of WITH HER

Wizard film, tv producer, representative of French cinema in Los Angeles and then director, Lawrence Morley has touched everything, from the small screen up to the 7th art, through the documentary. In August, he released on the internet a 52-minute tribute to the Marilyn Monroe of the Twenty first century, one that is always there… through his fans. Encounter with a Frenchy native of Limoges, who now lives his dream in hollywood where it happens, to two not of the ” StarStruck Town “.

Mélina Huet : That is what pushed the young Limousin to make a career in the audiovisual sector ?

Lawrence Morley : Since childhood I was fascinated by the television screen, or even the pattern! So it was a bit weird, almost paranormal, but it attracted me. I had made a fake microphone, and I remember making my own programming… in my garden. So I’ve always wanted to work in television. As soon as I got my tray, I went to Paris.

And this is where you have confronted your dreams to the reality on the ground…

Yes ! I am a party in a college of cinema and audiovisual sector to do a degree at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. At the same time I was taken on as a trainee in a program of Christophe Dechavanne called It is even better in the afternoon, a big issue at the time that mixed cinema, spectacle and the art of living. I was in heaven! I was working on a magazine live on one of the biggest plateaus of Paris, at the Maison de la radio.

What were you doing ?

I was his assistant movie: I was helping the programmer to cinema to invite the actors to the directors who were in promo and I spent my afternoon on the shelf in direct to accommodate people and it was awesome. I’ve done it for six months. And where luck has played a large role is that of the producer of this show, Dominique Cantien, has been named Director of the varieties of TF1, the competitor, and she told me “I will take you with me on TF1 PPDA is looking for an assistant, is it you said?”. Of course it told me. I met Poivre d’arvor, I stopped my studies and I was his assistant for 6 years before he entrusted me with the production of its literary program.

How does one go from the small to the big screen ?

I product for more than seventeen years before it happened! I had always loved the cinema but I had never thought or dreamed of working there. And then one day when I was working on The Target for France 2, a friend of me who worked in the humanitarian comes to see me and told me “they are looking for a director of the Office of the film at the embassy of France in Los Angeles”. I am not at all in the stuff I say no and he insists, “vas-y vas-y”. I’ve finally gone… and I have been appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For five years I have once again lived a dream, because I met the greatest in Hollywood, I was invited to dinner with the studio bosses, to Festivals, etc, It was amazing, and I was especially able to understand that the tv was probably a pass for me, that film was much more grounded in what I liked. I made my first film, a short film here in Hollywood with a big team, in the studios and in the street, on the crane saying “action”. When I moved to the United States for this job at the embassy, it really is a second life that has begun.

Even as the passage that you brought your experience to the small screen, in the universe of the 7th art ? That is what you remember of your years tv in this sense ?

The tv taught me how to tell stories to a mass audience because it is the same principle eventually. I have often produced fiction programmes or even news stories which it tells stories with pictures to support, but also with a comment, a way to mount it, add music, etc, Everything that makes the cinema today! It is a mixture, a sort of magic potion in which it stirs up all of this and where we released a product that it delivers to the public. Tv, like cinema, will address the greatest number.

You have a lot of work around programs and even fiction films, that is what led you to documentary ?

For me the film Marilyn [WITH HER] this is more than a documentary, it is also a movie theater, fiction,. Because the characters, which are characters of real life, however, are so extreme in their way of life, Marilyn, in daily life, far away from the reality, that I had the sensation of treating a work of fiction.

Why Marilyn Monroe ? A fascination of long date or a trigger ?

When I was young, I learned the american film – and learned how the United States somehow, through the films of Marilyn Monroe. In his films it had everything that represented Hollywood. But there was also a way of shooting in the u.s., the landscapes, the scenery, the streets…. But I also liked the character because I found his stories – personal and public – were very strong, very innovative. There are photos that she has taken in 1960 which is still today a modern amazing. You might believe that this are photos taken two days ago on Instagram. It was something “before”. I love when it distorts the time, when one makes present the past, or when we are going to look for the future, when the life does not end at fifty, sixty, eighty years passed on earth, but we get to touch several generations. It, Marilyn did it. She died fifty years ago and yet there are girls of fifteen years of which it is the actress number one, and not Angélina Jolie. So it’s good that she had something more !

That is what this documentary has more than all the films already made on this exceptional woman, who has done a lot to talk about… and a lot turn ?

There are actually more than forty documentaries shot on Marilyn Monroe, which all use the same material: the interviews with the family, actors, filmmakers of the era or of the interviews recently that are witnesses of indirect, because those who were present have almost all disappeared. Or so images from the archives of his work. But it is especially the media’s treatment of his death of which he has been question. Re-enactments, interviews with doctors, etc I’ve wanted me to do something different. Make a movie of today, in the years 2000. Who is Marilyn in 2012 [the film is released in 2012 in the United States]? I wanted to show people who lived Marilyn daily. So I’ve done the shoot, I didn’t used to archive images, and have not processed his death. There was just a picture where we see his funeral to launch the commemoration, which was held in 2012 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of her disappearance. I wanted to focus on the present of this woman, because even if it seems strange in many ways, it was a present to Los Angeles, which was his own city, but also in the world.

After so many years to acquire a look from california on the cinema, is that you see a future in French cinema or French ?

I’ve always kept the link between the occupation in French film and the American. It was an approximation. I see real co-productions, French-american see the light of day. The Americans envy us for we are the French our how to write comedy, make films at a lower cost and us it is their desire to produce films that tell stories that are universal, that affect all the world, that we can export to anywhere with a certain strike force. The marriage of the two would be and will be great! We have films of great quality of writing and able to spend all the borders. Many of the films of the hexagon does not export unfortunately not, because they are too franco-French, are not written for an international audience. This is changing with the young French directors, who take into account this, or more. The mass media, the internet has also fostered the emergence of young creatives who are determined to look at what is happening in French – for the Americans – and vice versa. So I find that the mixture is natural and I think that this is only the beginning.

A memory box to Los Angeles ?

Has the opportunity of my work at the office of the film of the Embassy, I was able to meet a plethora of players mythical. In particular, I remember a day where I took the elevator with Warren Beatty at the Chateau Marmont. I stayed in the elevator asked me what floor it would stop to spend the most time possible with him. I faltered two or three tricks him by saying that the real situation was for me a real scene of the movie. He looked at me and he told me, “if you live your life like a movie, you would have chosen and that you like, is that it has become the most beautiful of dreams”. It made me smile and it is gone. This is a trick that remained. I went back and I think I have not got a word to my dinner, because I thought of what had happened to me.

A word of advice to compatriots wishing to make a career in Hollywood ?

Already learn to speak English perfectly. The days of “oh, the little French accent that is great, we will hire you for that”, it is gone. There is, in Los Angeles, more than a thousand people who are looking for a job in the cinema and have this accent, so it is not worthwhile to rely on it ! Not to mention that the focus is nice at the beginning but when it covers important topics such as the production of films, it is necessary to be impeccable. The crisis is everywhere and also in the United States since 2008. There are lots of people who have signed winning films at the Oscars who are looking for job.

It must also be the most sincere possible, saying “this is me I come from France, I know precisely what I can do here, but what is for sure is that I really want to do it” instead of saying, “we are French, we are the kings of the big screen, it is the parents of the cinema”. Try to be humble, and above all speak with his guts, because the advantage of the Americans is that even if we not speak English well, for example, they will know that it is sincere… and that is what matters !

Try the adventure, not just by doing little trips like that. Try to visit on a regular basis or a maximum of time for you to immerse yourself, and seek adventure !

Interview by Mélina Huet

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