Isabelle Truc • Producer, Iota Production
"There’s an artistic richness to working on both short films and European co-productions"
- Producer Isabelle Truc (Iota Production) tells us about her career, the situation in French-speaking Belgium today, her recent successes, and her ongoing projects
We spoke to the producer Isabelle Truc, founder of Iota Production, the company behind the very successful Our Struggles [+see also:
interview: Guillaume Senez
film profile] by Guillaume Senez, which was selected at Cannes, awarded five Belgian cinema Magritte awards and nominated for two César awards. A faithful partner after producing the director’s first short film, the producer stands out thanks to her reaffirmed desire to produce both short and feature films, fiction features and documentaries. She chats to Cineuropa about her career, how the sector has evolved since Iota was founded almost 20 years ago, and her future projects.
Cineuropa: You have just won five Magritte awards for Our Struggles, what does that mean to you?
Isabelle Truc: It's a tremendous encouragement, and it improves our international reputation. A kind of validation of the journey we have embarked on, especially as we have a lot of very exciting projects coming up.
What’s in the pipeline?
The first feature film by Vero Cratzborn, Into Dad's Woods [+see also:
interview: Véro Cratzborn
film profile], starring Ludivine Sagnier, Alban Lenoir and Léonie Souchaud is currently being edited. We’re also developing C’est de famille by Elodie Lelu, which stars a beautiful cast composed of Hélène Vincent, Fantine Harduin and Bouli Lanners. We are also working on the writing stage of Elisabeth Llado's first feature film, and Vanja d'Alcantara's third feature (Beyond the Steppes, Kokoro [+see also:
film profile]), which has recently partnered with Iota. Finally, we’re gearing up for our next documentary by Jérôme le Maire (Le Thé ou l'électricité, Burning Out [+see also:
film profile]), which promises to be magnificent, and has Olivier Boonjing on board. A true documentary film.
You produce both fiction features and documentaries. Diversifying projects and formats, is that the best way to achieve success as a production company?
For me, it was more instinctive than strategic, but it is true in practice that a very fragile balance can result in success. But it’s also about the artistic richness that comes with working on short films or long-term documentaries, as well as big animated European co-productions, such as Song of the Sea [+see also:
interview: Tomm Moore
What has changed in the 20 years since Iota was founded?
Everything! I feel like we’re working with entirely new technology! Every 10 years, we have to properly reinvent ourselves. From new media formats to small cameras that are accessible to all... We mustn’t be afraid to question what we’re doing, otherwise there’s no chance for success.
What are some of the obstacles encountered today when it comes to producing films in Belgium?
We have too few means for majority Belgian films, even if that’s always been the case. However, the desire for quality is at its highest level yet, and everything has become globalised, so it is difficult to cope. Suddenly, everything is slower, it now takes longer to edit films, which can weaken companies. It's somewhat paradoxical. We have the Tax Shelter in Belgium, but it is not necessarily beneficial to Belgian films. People have been saying it for a long time, but we really need a change in the law that benefits our directors more. Regional funds have also changed the game, with almost full employment in the audiovisual sector, allowing our technicians to gain experience that only serves to increase the quality of their work. But Belgian initiative films are not showcased enough, even though they can do wonders for a region. It’s quite surprising that we received no support from Wallimage, or screen.brussels for Our Struggles. Fortunately, I sense that things are changing... We are still very competitive, but we must also remain attentive, because competition can come from anywhere, it’s all global these days.
What are some of the opportunities out there?
Our talent pool is extraordinary. There are no creative taboos, we’re constantly transgressing boundaries, we have excellent educational institutes. It is also less compartmentalised, especially between documentary and fiction, which gives technicians, service providers and directors a certain elasticity. They are able to perfect the art of bouncing between formats and are equipped with a real know-how. It’s very inspiring.
How would you define your job as a producer today?
I have always seen my job as a long-term partnership, even if sometimes some collaborations wax and wane. Fifteen years ago, we were really in the making. There has been a broadening of the spectrum, now we have to have our foot in the door way earlier on in the process and anticipate what is going to happen later on, as well as distribution etc.. I learn everything all over again with each film. You could say that it's an industry of prototypes. If I had to give advice to young producers, I’d say, go crazy, be passionate!
(Translated from French)
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