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Producers to Watch: Serge Lalou

Producers to Watch: Serge Lalou

By Peter Belsito, guest blogger

Serge Lalou
Principal, les films d’Ici

He is an experienced Writer, Director and Producer and along with his partners, Richard Copans and Frederic Cheret, he oversees the daily activities of one of France’s busiest production companies / houses set in expansive offices in the working class district of Paris’ 20th Arrondisement on Blvd. Davout.

After attending veterinarian school and making numerous international trips, he joined les films d’Ici in 1987. He has produced over 300 films, articles, magazines and DVDs.

Serge is a no nonsense, very busy guy and in several meetings now (his English is perfect!) we have discussed his work and various projects upcoming.

Since 1984, les films d’Ici has been producing feature length documentaries, dramatic feature films, one hour TV documentaries and film collections. The catalogue contains over 700 films released in theatres, shown in festivals and broadcast on television stations worldwide.

Les films d’Ici describes itself as a company motivated to making creative new works, to producing original works. This is what motivates and drives them. To work with the authors (les auteurs), the creators, to realize their visions motivates their desire to be present in all fields of production, and hence those of theatrical distribution and TV broadcast. They want to push boundaries and cross genres: documentary, drama, animation, live performance, to work on all formats: a single work or film, TV series, long, short, to build bridges between television, film, publishing, institutions cultural and create financial partnerships abroad.

In recent years, along with several other French production houses, they helped form a new international sales company, DOC & FILM INTERNATIONAL, headed up by Daniela Elstner whose current line up includes Directors Fortnight premiere, Boxing Gym by Frederick Wiseman.

These next are some recent productions, the most ‘famous’ being the huge international success, the political / art film from Israel (animation!) Waltz with Bashir by Ari Folman.

Their films tend to have European wide distribution, sold by different companies and are made, typically, with very creative ‘European type’ international co-production and financing arrangements.

The Arrivals (2010), by Claudine Bories, Patrice Chagnard
Nénette (2010), by Nicolas Philibert
Katanga Business (2010) by Thierry Michel.
The Wildlife of Domestic Animals* (2009), by Dominique Garing, Frédéric Goupil
Secrets (2009), by Raja Amari
Mars Dreamers (2009), by Richard Dindo
Depuis Tel-Aviv (2009), by Naruna Kaplan de Macedo
Z32 (2008), by Avi Mograbi
Après l’océan (2008), by Eliane De Latour
Agnus Dei (2008), by Lucia Cedron
Bouzkachi (2008), by Jacques Debs

*This one appears destined to be a big hit in French theaters, and is about what happens in the barnyard when the farmer goes away and the animals come out to play. Live action (not animation). Studio Canal is having a HUGE rollout theatrically in France on this Bastille Day (July 14), one of France’s biggest holidays.

The new lineup, which Serge and I discussed in detail is really impressive, engrossing and exciting.

Here are just a few (no kidding, he’s got a lot more projects than this!) and they are all, these below, advanced , i.e., ‘more than at script stage’, mostly with some financing, production dates set. (Note budgets are all approximate and subject to change.)

The Other City, drama, by Ghassan Salhab, budget $1 million USD. The story of 3 women in today’s Beirut, their lives and interactions, a very cosmopolitan, complex and even confusing city and society, a true crossroads of the modern world.

Michael Kolhaus, period drama, budget USD $3 million. In the era of the sixteen hundreds (seventeenth century) in France, an inspiring tale of one common, but heroic, man’s impossible fight for justice from ruinous arbitrary aristocratic taxation, a fight he is determined to win even if it kills him.

Musical Chairs, political drama, budget $2 million USD. A Palestinian journalist is traveling to the USA. The problem is he must get across the closed Israeli border to make it to the airport in time …

Cowboy Solitude, documentary, by Frederic Laffont, budget $1 million USD. Following, for several years now, professional rodeo cowboy Clint Cannon, his family, colleagues and friends as they take to road on the ‘rodeo circuit’ throughout the contemporary American West.

La Maison de la Radio (The Radio House), contemporary drama, by Nicolas Philibert (‘To Be and To Have’), budget $1.2 million USD. The foibles and craziness inside a French radio station.

The Forest, family comedy, by Dominique Garing, budget $10 million USD. This one will follow ‘La Vie Sauvage…’ (“The Wild Life of Domestic Animals”) above. Forest animals in the wildness of nature and the interrelation and social activities and groupings of the beasts. Live action (not animation).

Serge travels a lot, attending all the big fests and film markets and is constantly on the lookout for new material, people and, of course, new means for financing his many productions.

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