Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold‘s “One to Another” finds Lucie surrounded by four handsome young men sunbathing on the rocks, and a reticent voyeur several metres behind. It becomes obvious, however, that she is not the object of everyone’s desires and dreams here: rather, the object is Pierre, her brother and occasional lover. He intersects with all of their lives, often sexually, always emotionally and even musically, as front man for their small-town. Jean-Marc Barr gives his take on globalization and how a newspaper article started the ball rolling for “One to Another,” which Arnold wrote and co-directed. Strand Releasing opens the film beginning Friday, June 29.
What initially attracted you to film making, and how has that interest evolved during your career?
I love the adventure that goes with film making. Following now the direction digital film making is going, I find it one of the most exciting times ever. There is a spiritual pursuit in making a film together with others that almost links with sports or even a ritual. It seems that the totalitarian excess exhibited by the major studios to control the mass markets is a sign of panic. Throughout my career, as an American living in Europe, I slowly resented this dumbing down of the public by driving our culture with superheroes that only children could get off on. Working with Lars Von Trier I realized that a personal voice was possible in the cinema and that it had to be celebrated at all cost. We of course are prohibited from participating in the normal distribution circuits, but that is also pushing us to create new markets through DVD and the new digital projection houses that will be popping up in the future.
Are there other aspects of film making that you would still like to explore?
New technologies are allowing me to discover other realms. Yes my curiosity will allow me to explore other areas. Sometimes I get the feeling that we are in a similar moment of freedom that maybe the creators of the first nickelodeons had at the beginning of last century. It is an opportunity not to be intimidated by all the facets of making a film. Only five or ten years ago all this would have seemed impossible.
Please talk about how the idea for “One to Another” came about.
My partner, Pascal Arnold, wrote it quite quickly. It was inspired by a couple of lines he read in the newspaper and he liberally adapted from there. The themes of freedom that we pursued in our “Freetrilogy – Lovers,” “Too Much Flesh,” “Being Light“–were also very prevalent in “One To Another.” The idea that today the only weapon one has to manifest one’s freedom today is with one’s body. Our hero, Pierre, is like a James Dean 2007; instead of racing a car off a cliff to show his revolt Pierre uses his body sexually to revolt.
Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making the film, including your influences as well as your overall goals for the project.
Communication with actors about the importance of the themes is essential. This communication is an osmosis of Pascal and me when we are on the set. I’m framing and Pascal usually deals with the actors so that there is only one voice. We both wanted that this story revealed a faith in humanity however tragic and disappointing life became for our lead character, Lucy.
Our influences as film makers revolve around Cassavetes, the French New Wave and the new creative worlds offered us by the Digital Revolution.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project or making and securing distribution?
Independent movie making is a constant struggle in the industrialized film world of today. Financing, international sales and distribution are a real struggle when one has modest means. Classical financing in France is through television, which usually forces the creator to adapt their work for a television audience. ‘Film d’Auteur’ was a constant throughout the ’80s and ’90s in France. Most films lost money but the system absorbed them. Today in France we have become more American–we now want to take no more chances. So financing independent movies forces the creators to become businessmen and look for private equity in order to keep their production cost usually at a tenth of what it costs normally to produce a film. The experience forces responsibility on the creator that makes the experience, although very difficult, quite invigorating and surprisingly more creative.
How did the financing and casting for the film come together?
It took about a year. We had cast the film before using more well-known actors but at the first reading we discovered 25 year-olds trying to play 18, so we decided to recast it with 18 year-olds…magic! Financing came from Canal+, the region of Paca, private equity, Film Distribution international sales.
What are some of the creative influences that have had the biggest impact on you?
There are too many to list. We want to be loyal to what has influenced us in the past as well as being in tune with the moment, we want to be audacious and classical at the same time.
What other genres or stories would like to explore as a filmmaker?
Making movies is about living now. Pascal and I are ready to explore any world. At the moment independent film making keeps one concentrated on daily survival.
What is your next project?
“The End of Innocence” – A love story between two people in which one suddenly become a serial killer. It will star Lizzie Brochere and Pierre Perrier and plan to shoot this November.
What is your definition of “independent film,” and has that changed at all since you first started working?
Independent films are where the aesthetics and content are decided by their creators and not a corporation. It has always been that way. All the pillars that held society together seem to be made of cardboard these days. Government, media and religion are not commanding the only channels of communication. People are discovering their independence from their control. An artist must defend his independence at all costs and get his message out despite all the difficulties.
What are some of your all-time favorite and recent favorite films?
Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment,” Sunset Blvd.” Andrie Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider.” The Marx Brothers “Horse Feathers,” Sam Fuller films old movies from the ’40s.
Recent ones include “Head On” by Fathi Akin and “Borat.”
What are your interests outside of film?
Having my own time.
What general advice would you impart to emerging filmmakers?
Making films is a doable thing these days. One should not be intimidated to keep to oneself. One film will lead to another if you are hanging around with the right people who are aware of the need to fight this mind numbing commercialism. Learn about life, make mistakes and learn to be audacious without any complexes. Just do it.
Please share an achievement from your career so far that you are most proud of.
After the “Big Blue” I decided to follow my heart rather than the established business profession. I left the U.S. because I wanted to expose myself to my European roots and its culture. I discovered that globalization had already eroded much of what was left of that culture in England and in France. Movies have been rendered juvenile to such a point that I refused to become a babysitter and decided to jump off the cliff and “got at it myself.” It hasn’t been easy as one becomes ostracized from the film ‘profession,’ but it pushes one to assert oneself even more.