Simon Arnal-Szlovak • Producer
Haut et Court, an unswerving partner
by Fabien Lemercier
- Producer and distributor of all the features by Laurent Cantet, the company Haut et Court have not put a foot wrong in the filmmaker’s film adventure with Heading South
Producer and distributor of all the features by Laurent Cantet, the company Haut et Court have not put a foot wrong in the filmmaker’s film adventure with Heading South [+see also:
interview: Laurent Cantet
interview: Robin Campillo
interview: Simon Arnal-Szlovak
film profile]. A faultless faithfulness despite the many surprises along the way as related by Simon Arnal-Szlovak, one of the three producers of the film with Carole Scotta and Caroline Benjo, a trio that is very active in favour of the making and circulation of French and European pieces.
Cineuropa: What is the main thread that attaches Haut et Court to the work of Laurent Cantet?
Firstly, he is someone we like very much on a human level. We constructed ourselves together, him in filming, us in production, and there is nothing stronger than the chance to produce a part of the a filmography of a director. We know each other very well and there are certain habits already formed that help to save a lot of time.
What was your initial reaction to a project to be shot in Haiti?
He spoke to us before he wrote the script. We had never set foot on Haiti and it was very complicated to produce as we were caught up in the social-political events unfolding there. We had to delay everything because of the political crisis that happened just before turn-over. What we also liked was Laurent‘s desire to work with Charlotte Rampling.
How did you put the financial package together?
Filming faraway didn’t frighten us as we produced the series 2000 vue par (10 tele-films in 10 countries). However, Haiti is problematic politically and from a security point of view, and is it one of the poorest countries on the planet. It wasn’t easy to land there with a camera crew, and the banks and the insurance companies find it difficult to accept projects like this. But despite all that, the subject matter was very strong, the cast too, and Laurent has a strong image and a high enough standing that we did not have much difficulty raising money for the film, even it wasn’t simple. The budget was €4 million, France 3 Cinéma came in very quickly (€800,000) and the Canadian co-production came in smoothly since Dany Laferrière lives in Quebec and is very well known. Also, the Canadian co-producers, who have been distributors of Laurent’s films since Ressources Humaines, pre-bought Heading South and wanted to launch themselves into co-production. We also had an Advance on Receipts from the CNC (€400,000), a presales agreement from Canal + and from TPS, an MG theatrical distribution from Haut et Court, an MG from Editions Montparnasse for the video rights and one from Celluloïd Dreams for international sales, without forgetting a small co-production with StudioCanal and the Sofica Cofinova. Our big fear was of going over budget since we were going into a country where we expected a great deal of racketeering. But in the end everything went well on the 10 week shoot. The only black mark was the weather because we didn’t have two consecutive days with the same weather for continuity, and so Laurent had to change his work schedule enormously, but we only lost three days in total.
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