2009 Producer on the Move – France
- Producer on the Move 2009 Jaffa - Release in France on June 10
Having first attracted attention with its debut feature, Keren Yedaya’s Or, My Treasure (Camera d’Or and Critics’ Week Grand Prize at Cannes 2004), Bizibi Productions now has four feature films to its name.
Cineuropa: What have been the most important stages of your career?
Emmanuel Agneray: I founded Bizibi after a few years working in distribution at Polygram and Ciby. Then I met Jérôme Bleitrach who had graduated from La Fémis film school with a specialisation in production and had experience as an assistant at Agat Films. We became business partners and started looking for new talents through shorts, with the aim of guiding these directors towards feature filmmaking.
Your production company is very open to international filmmakers.
Our specificity is that we work half and half with French and foreign directors. Talent has no borders. And the excellent French system makes it possible to produce works by foreign filmmakers whilst benefiting from certain legal frameworks.
Somewhat by chance at first, we ended up working with Middle-Eastern directors, including Keren Yedaya in Israel and Hany Tamba in Lebanon. And when you start working with a filmmaker from a particular region and the collaboration is successful, you inevitably meet others.
Was the success of Or, My Treasure a determining factor in your career?
It was fundamental. It was our debut feature and it enabled us to be taken more seriously by industry stakeholders and financiers. It also confirmed our working method, for we had previously produced a short by Yedaya. We still produce between two and four shorts per year. We don’t make any money with them, we simply try not to lose money; but it’s an investment for the future. We recently produced a short by Hungarian director Balint Kenyeres.
How did you finance your new production, Yedaya’s Jaffa?
It’s a majority French co-production with Israel and Germany, co-produced by Arte France Cinéma and pre-bought by Canal (who backed our previous four features). We also have a minimum guarantee from Rezo for theatrical distribution and international sales.
The budget isn’t big (approximately €2m) and it was relatively easy to put together: the screenplay won people over and there was a real desire to get involved in Yedaya’s new film. We renewed our partnership with Israel’s Transfax, who introduced us to the third partner we needed: German company Rohfilm, who provided access to two funds (Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung).
What is your development strategy?
You have to take on projects that you know you can handle. For companies of our size, losing money on a film can very quickly lead to bankruptcy. We’re therefore extremely cautious. We were lucky with our three latest features: two were co-produced by Arte and one by France 3, but our debut feature (My Treasure) was produced without terrestrial TV backing, for €700,000.
We try to stick to budgets we know financial partners will trust us with: this is currently between €1.5-4m. But eventually, our aim is to vary the budgets with an editorial policy founded on diversity and encompassing popular comedies, genre films and intimate works.
What other projects do you have underway?
We’re going to start production on Natacha Samuel’s Le Carrosse et la Citrouille (“The Coach and the Pumpkin”) and Jeanne Biras’ Mondapart. We’re also developing Temistocles Lopez’s Man Ray, for which we’re seeking funding.
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