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Patrice Leconte • Director

Leconte talks about his collaborative project The Suicide Shop


- The Suicide Shop by Patrice Leconte.

Patrice Leconte • Director

After the avant-premiere screening of two 3D scenes from his forthcoming film, The Suicide Shop, an animated adaptation of Jean Teulé’s bestselling book, French director Patrice Leconte (Les Bronzés [+see also:
film profile
), flanked by co-producers Gilles Podesta (France’s Diabolo Films) and Sébastien Delloye (Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup) answered a few questions about this collaborative project which should be finished in time for the opening of the Cannes Film Festival 2012...

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Cineuropa: Why did you choose 2D graphics for a film that was intended from the outset to be in 3D?
Patrice Leconte: I worked in comic strips and I wanted there to be some drawing in the film unlike most of today’s 3D animated films where everything is smoothed, polished and rounded. The Suicide Shop is more similar to those pop-up books made up of cut-out pieces that leap out from the pages. We’re talking about 2D stereoscopic. You can feel the hand that has drawn each element and it’s this graphic approach that excited me first of all. It’s important to know that this working in stereoscopic wasn’t planned afterwards, but right from the conception, which distinguishes this film from other productions where the 2D stereoscopic was added afterwards like in The Rabbi’s Cat [+see also:
film profile
, for example. For The Suicide Shop, the direction and the shooting script were thought out straightaway from this perspective.

For a director used to live-action films, how has the film’s production process gone?
Patrice Leconte: It’s my first animated film and it’s quite incredible to think that all the scenery is drawn by the animation studio Waooh! (editor’s note: it is part of Pôle Image in Liège, Belgium, where the stereoscopic processing is also carried out), that another part of the animation is done in Angoulême, yet another in Montreal and that I can coordinate all these assembled elements in real time from our base in Paris. It’s very exhilarating to realise that the final result of this collaborative process resembles what I had in mind as a director without actually being present during the shoot. It’s also a project that teaches you to be patient. Fortunately, I’ve also focused on other things during the four years that have been needed to complete this adaptation.

From such dark subject matter, how do you make a humorous, upbeat adaptation aimed at a young audience?
Patrice Leconte: First of all, by avoiding the live-action filming of which there was talk at a time when I considered the novel to be impossible to adapt for the big screen. Animation makes it possible to include a lot of humour and create a distance in relation to reality. We really enter into the fantasy world of a fairy tale. Next, by making the characters sing and dance in order to offset the gloominess of this world. We decided to make a comedy musical. The film’s main character is a child who sees life through rose-tinted spectacles. The audience identifies with this character and can therefore be younger too.

Does The Suicide Shop have a substantial budget?
Sébastien Delloye: The film’s budget is nearly €12m. It’s a big enough budget for us to realise that today, you can’t produce an animated feature in Europe on one territory alone. You have to do it through a co-production.
Gilles Podesta: For this project, I insisted that the co-producing countries should all be French-speaking. We were embarking on a four-year adventure together, it was important that we could understand each other as well as possible by speaking the same language. The same also applies for the artists, creators and technicians who work on this film. Moreover, it’s the same company which has graphic studios based in France, Belgium and Canada. These three countries don’t just share the same language; the procedures and technical standards are also shared on a daily basis.

In the case of Belgium, we can almost talk about a social fairy tale because the film has created jobs.
Sébastien Delloye: When it comes to co-productions, there is a great difference between a conventional feature and an animated film. During shooting or in post-production on a conventional film, there will be perhaps 10 or 15 people from the same region who will be employed for two months. In the case of The Suicide Shop, no fewer than 40 people have found a job that will keep them busy for over a year. For most of them, this is the first time they’ve been hired and this has been made possible thanks to a technical training programme on which we collaborated. The economic repercussions for the co-producing country go well beyond the mere takings that will be generated by the film. The film’s digital promotion has also received backing from the new funding line Wallimage Cross-Media, which means that once again money and jobs are shared out across Belgium for the creation of the Belgian promotional campaign, and French one.

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