“As soon as we started writing movies, we realized that everything took us back to the places of our childhood”
– The French directors take us behind the scenes in their third feature film, and tell us about their passion for genre cinema
Visiting NIFFF for the world premiere of their third feature film, the year of the shark, Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma tell us about the France they knew as children and teenagers, and about their passion for genre cinema.
Chinese Europe: After Teddy bear [+lire aussi :
fiche film] and his werewolf this time you choose a killer shark, where does your passion for genre cinema come from?
Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma: Genre cinema has followed us since childhood. We grew up with the Stephen King stories that our mother read to us and watched Carrie, Tea shines, Misery but also the series Tales from the Crypt. When we started making movies, we put those references aside a bit. After our first feature film, Willy 1eh [+lire aussi :
fiche film] (ACID) we wanted to return to that universe. So we started writing the year of the shark but on the manuscript side we did not really know from what angle we should approach it. At that time in France, the news was full of stories of radicalization, attacks, etc. It is in this context that we got the idea to write Teddy bear (Cannes 2020 official selection), a film that seemed to us to be in tune with the concerns of the moment. After Teddy bear there was Covid and the containment, suddenly we took over the scenario the year of the shark. We had our angle of attack, we felt it was a bit of a detour to talk about Covid and what was happening in the world, this feeling of confinement and anger. Our shark was in a way the key to talking about the daily life we lived, the pandemic, etc. The monster is a bit of a pretext to talk about the society we live in.
What are your cinematographic references (genre cinema, but not only)?
We have seen many different films and that is why we make films that can be described as hybrid or bizarre. We love so much Bruno Dumont to Wes Craven Where John Carpenter. That said, we try not to draw too much inspiration from others and make our own cinema. It’s great to be able to find your own way. We have quoted a lot Jaws as a reference to our film, but our idea was never to make this film about, a monstrous crushing reference. We just flew to see what we could do as a shark movie with our sensitivity and our style.
IN the year of the shark you stage a France that could be defined as “popular“a kind of anti Parisian cliché, why this choice?
This is France, where we grew up, this is the reality for the overwhelming majority of French people. We often use the term “France of the Invisible” as if these people were invisible, but when we grow up we only see these people. We got very bored in the Southwest, where we grew up, and we fled to go to Paris, where we studied, etc. As soon as we started writing movies, we realized that everything brought us back to the places of our childhood. Every time we imagine a fictional universe, we naturally return to the middle class of the Southwest, our friends, our parents. What interests us in monster movies is to take the characters from American cinema that we loved as children and anchor them in the Southwest. We want to create a kind of shock, a confrontation between these two very opposing worlds. This shock is also a very good tool for comedy.
How did you choose your actors, especially the non-professionals?
We were looking for our “actors” in the Southwest with a casting instructor who met a lot of people. He then showed us videos of people he found interesting. The only instruction we gave him was to meet people who had never acted. This is especially how we found the (amazing) actor who plays the leader of the water park. Something quite unusual happens with non-professional actors because they are always very close to real life. We like to confront professional and non-professional actors, a bit like the shark swimming in the ocean in the southwest. It is this discrepancy that interests us, these two worlds collide.
How do you work with your films as a duo?
We are twin brothers, we grew up watching the same movies and having exactly the same credentials. We quickly realized that writing together was much easier than writing solo. We have many friends who write alone and are looking for their ideal co-author. For us, it happened naturally because we understand each other right away. For example, we pretty much automatically imagine the same sets. It’s a lot of pressure for us to record a movie, and sharing these feelings with someone else helps ease the tension. We do not share tasks we really work on together: from writing to editing.