Was the occasion of a round table organized by the communication agency Bubbling Bulb, we were able to meet with a handful of bloggers, Louis-Julien Petit, director of DISCOUNT, in the dining hall on the 21st of January (tickets to win here). A pleasant meeting with a young director who brings a discerning eye on the company, optimistic about the future, and who speaks to us of his work with a lot of humanity.
Tell us about the genesis of the film
I have written Discount with Liza Benguigui, the producer, who was 25 years old when we started. We have taken five years to ride it. At the time of shooting there was no distributor and therefore no certainty that the film would come out in room. Finally, Wild Bunch has signed three weeks before the movie was shown at the film Festival of Angoulême.
This screening at the film Festival of Angoulême has changed something ?
We thought we had just a small piece of paper somewhere, like a blow to the heart. We had the price to the public and it caused a media presence very strong, which led to a tour of 50 dates ! For me it is really outsider-home outsider !
What was the biggest challenge on the film ?
I have the impression that there has not been much trouble. When the film comes to an end we retain only the positive. The only thing complicated, technically, it was the light. It was shot in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais where there are six hours a day for nine hours of filming. Therefore a race against the clock.
For your first feature film as a director that you didn’t care ?
I have been an assistant director for ten years in France and abroad and I have learned to tell me that there are no problems but only solutions. It is the state of mind he must have.
You have resorted to crowdfunding. Where did the idea come from ?
Liza, my producer, that in a comparison with students at the Sorbonne and met one of the creators of Touscoprod, a platform for crowdfunding.
You thought this would be a factor ?
Not at all. I thought that this was not useful given that we have recovered a few thousand euros, which is little compared to the financing of a film. But where it was interesting, and the producer has felt well the thing is that it has created a social link with people.
This link was made to feel on the shoot also ?
Yes, as it was a first film, people wanted to help us. There are even extras who have put their wage contribution.
What has been the relationship with all these co-producers ?
What has been great is to see the interaction. It was not 184 co-producers but 184 ambassadors of the film have taken the film to arm the body. And the press we are talking about it as if it was something extraordinary. It is because we are in daily interaction with them. We Ca more reported awareness on the values that one vehicle in the film.
How much money have you collected ?
25.400€. We have had donations ranging from 5€ to 500€. We put all these people in the credits of course, and we sent them before Christmas gifts, t-shirts, DVD’s, décor elements…
You have also put up the first trailer of solidarity.
Quite. I am very proud of it, it was time that I wanted to do it. It is the first film in partnership with the Restos du Cœur for which the revenues of the trailer will be returned. The more you share the trailer (here), the more the Restaurants will be helped.
Who directed this trailer ?
It is an agency which is called SLP that has made it with me. It is very hard to make a trailer ! But I like it a lot.
It was important that your first film is about solidarity ?
Yes in the sense that the origin of the project it was on the mutual assistance and solidarity. But for a first film it was important to make a film with meaning, whether it is solar, it opens up the debate, that this is not preachy or pessimistic.
”I want to believe in, to tell me that even if reality is hard, there is hope”
What is the origin of the scenario ?
As part of a fact various. Anne-Marie, a cashier who was sacked for gross misconduct after stealing a ticket for the promotion. When I went to see her, I was already a big part of the storyline. I’ve seen all the help she has received, letters of support, money, tickets and restaurants… Where I understood the tone of the film, that Discount would be a comedy because she laughed.
Why have you chosen to turn in the Nord – Pas-de-Calais ?
I have been an assistant on Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis Danny Boon and A l’origine by Xavier Giannoli. So I was not a lot of time in the region and I met some extras so friendly that I’d really like to turn there.
How did you choose the actors ?
I wanted actors who think more of their character than their image. It should not be forgotten that we are not doing that film.
Humor is by far the dialogues simple and natural. Has there been any improvisation ?
Yes a lot. In fact these are phrases that emerged during the filming, and which had been taken for the film. For example, when one of the extras told a youth that he had the head of the offender, it happened like in the movie five minutes before turning. I found it so funny that I asked him to do it again. Also you should know that I do not do any repeating, I like the instinct, the authenticity. And all the sequences with the figuration have been made in one take. As a result, it gives dialogues real that make me die of laughter.
Tell us about some of the characters.
These are characters that react in the face of a crisis, that we can laugh at the crisis, such as the comedy-English-post-Thatcher, or even Italian. Characters that are human and fallible. It is what creates funny situations, but not that… Because there is a social system that is hard. And finally, these are not characters who are fighting to have more, they just want to maintain what they have.
You put in scene a world quite hard.
The characters are in a universe that is difficult but they don’t complain. The idea is that, yes, they are in a precarious position, but it is the system which is blind relative to the working poor. Why the system is pushing honest people to transgress ? It is the question. They are on the verge of being HOMELESS. But that does not make them sad, they don’t complain. It comes from the fact that I want to believe in, to tell me that even if reality is hard, there is hope.
This is a little shot as a fairy tale in fact.
Yes it is true. A bit like a modern fable, but a true reality. Ordinary characters to whom it happens something extraordinary.
You speak a lot about solidarity. This is what comes back as a leitmotiv in the film.
For me, the solution to a system that pushes us to individualism, a crisis that isolates, that is caring. History shows us that as soon as we saw something dramatic there’s a kind of gathering. Discount this is the story of a union. But we need to ask, it is joint and several up to what point ? Because the system is always stronger.
But then why this title ? Discount and not Caring ?
Because we will all be “discount” at a given time. Be replaced by someone or something less expensive, younger, more responsive… And the characters of the film arrive, as the products expiration date.
How has the film been received ?
There has especially been a lot of testimonies. A lady who took me aside, with tears in her eyes, to tell me that she was in a similar situation. Another, a store manager, explained to me that I was well below the reality, and that for her the work was very hard from the point of view of misogyny at work.
You point a finger at a reality on food waste.
I don’t have a claim policy and the end is open to debate. I’m just a director. The debate it must also be a citizen. It is important to know that there are Discount outlets that provide and sort, but this is not generalized, as in Belgium, for example. On one side there are organizations that do not have the technical means or human to go and look for these products, and other directors who want to give but can’t because it costs loads, or simply because they don’t know how.
The movie could have an impact with the directors of stores, policies, and associations to create gateways ?
In fact, there are already plenty of gateways. The fight against waste is wider than that of the large-scale distribution. For example, there are Eqosphère, a startup which puts the interface with the large surface areas and the people who would need their products. Also OptiMiam I think is great. These are traders who warn of where and when they will get rid of foods for people to come retrieve them free of charge or at a reduced blow. And also there are Checkfood, a Smartphone application that allows you to give her food in the association nearest to you. But if Discount happens to be the interface between the associations and the directors it would be great.
– CONTEST : places of cinema to win !
• Production : Louis-Julien Petit
• Screenplay : Louis-Julien Petit, Samuel Doux
• Main actors : Olivier Barthelemy, Corinne Masiero, Pascal Demolon
• Country of origin : France
• Released : January 21, 2015
• Duration : 1h45min
• Distributor : Wild Bunch Distribution
• Synopsis : in the fight against the introduction of ticket machines that threaten their jobs, employees of a Hard Discount secretly create their own ” Discount alternative “, recovering products that should have been wasted…