Today, director Quentin Dupieux and producer Gregory Bernard begin work on a new film, Wrong. Last night, Bernard went out for a jog. As he ran, he spoke to me, by telephone, about their last collaboration, Rubber.
Rubber is an extraordinary film, turning the story of a killer tire into an experiment with audience suspension of disbelief. It’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year, one of the most cunningly well crafted and one of the most nose-to-the-screen engaging. I can’t really recommend it strongly enough. It’s educational too – you might even find out why ET is brown.
Here is some of what Bernard told me, about Rubber, about Quentin Dupieux, about their future collaborations and about life as a producer of uncompromised cinema.
On Working With Quentin Dupieux
Working with Quentin Dupieux is close to paradise in an artistic way, and a personal way. But it’s always a hard relationship. The important thing for the producer is to stay in his place, making things possible and in the case of Quentin putting the maximum trust into his artistic vision. For me, it was probably easier because Quentin is somebody that I really asked – I wouldn’t say begged, but really asked – to become his producer because I believed he was one of the most promising directors In France, in the world. At that time I didn’t really have the background as producer to convince him that I was the right guy to do it so I was in a position where I was really at his service. At the same time, I wanted to bring in my part. The way I did that was to give him, probably, a lot more freedom that any other producer would.
The deal was simple. Before he even wrote the script for Rubber, I told him “We’re both frustrated, not being able to do a movie fast enough so I’m putting my own money on the project so we don’t depend on anybody for the shoot.“
For me, producing a film has a lot of emotional, professional, personal implications. It’s at least a two-year commitment. It’s not something I can really consider just business. There has to be great admiration from me to the director, which is definitely the case with Quentin. I believe his movies will stay, that we’ll watch them in 20 years, that he brings something that will inspire people. And I hope that they way I produce them will inspire young entrepreneurs.
The Restrictions Under Which Rubber Was Made
Rubber was born from the frustration of not being able to do a normal budget movie in a short amount of time. It was engineered, from the producing side as well as the directing side, to make things possible, to make it that we had to depend on nobody else. The conditions were simple: we do it low budget, but we do it in LA and in English. Apart from that, Quentin was totally free to do whatever he wanted. That’s what brings all the energy to the movie.
Rubber opened up a lot of new projects for me together with Quentin. As a producer, I’m really happy to be working with him. I really hope I get the opportunity to follow up on a lot of different projects, because he’s going to evolve a lot in the coming years.
We start shooting his next movie tomorrow. We’re starting tomorrow morning. The name of the movie is Wrong. It’s a slightly bigger budget; it’s probably a little more than the double of what Rubber was, in the end. It’s being shot in LA with a US cast.
Quentin is back for good, and we’re going to try and make a movie every year and we’re happy about it.
Reality was actually the first project I was working on with Quentin. It’s been a long development in terms of the script. It’s an extremely ambitious project artistically, and the way he wrote that script, it’s really a masterpiece. It took us quite a while to structure the financing. We’re ready now to do Reality and to do it France with a French cast. Which is something I wanted to do with Quentin because, while he’s completely international, at the same time, he’s got a French and European thing. We’ll be working on Reality together, and it’s probably going to be a 2012 shoot with a big French cast. Depending on the success of Wrong, we might try another movie with a bigger budget in the US after that.
On Meanings and Explanations
Quentin doesn’t want his movies taken too seriously, or for him to take the critics or the public by the hand too much. Of course, there are a lot of meanings and explanations for Rubber, but he’s letting people feel the movie as an aesthetic experience, and artistic experience. It’s the result of a number of certain feelings he had and he wanted to share – about movies, about the industry, about actors. I never asked him for any explanations. We talked about the movie, he made some adjustments, but on Rubber, it was really just his feeling.
On the Audience, Both Inside And Outside The Film
Adding the public to the story came up when he was bored telling the story of a tire, he wanted to add something to this. He came up with the public. This is really the public who follow him in his movie-writing career.
We’re really blessed to have so much attention on such a small film. We both took risks – him artistically, me in production – and the fact that we had, in general, a very positive response from the public; we’ve had audiences who really loved it. In the Q&A sessions we get a lot of technical questions about how the tire works, and also congratulations on the way the film was shot.
But we’ve had mixed responses also. We had people thinking it was artificial, or it was too provocative, that it questioned movie narration too much. But it would be scary if we didn’t get some of that too.
On the UK, French and Hong Kong Responses
We’re pretty happy with the French response, but we were very, very excited about the UK response. It’s an old love story between Quentin and the UK public. They were leading the way in the recognition of him as a major artist in music and video. He would have loved to be there for the UK release if he wasn’t shooting, he really loves the UK public. They’re always ahead, they’re always creating the buzz before the others.
The French public responded pretty well. It wasn’t like a blow out, but everyone who went to the theatre and saw the movie, once they saw it, they were happy. The distributor was really happy, the theatres were full.
I was in Hong Kong last week. The film was not subtitled so we had a lot of English speaking people in the crowd but some of them didn’t speak English, only spoke Chinese. But they were watching the movie and they were cracking up at the gags. It must have been a totally different experience for them, but the images and the storytelling just works, so it was really exciting to see the Asian crowd react so well.
We haven’t had any tomatoes thrown at us yet, so we’re glad about that.
On Seeing The Film In Cinemas
The US market is what it is. The theatre culture is not exactly the same. They do joint theatrical and home releases, which creates more attention on the movie. For me and I think for Quentin, the real cherry on the cake is to have an audience inside a dark room, in front of a screen and sharing their collective experience. It’s a totally different experience with an audience. This is why I work in the movie industry, to have a public inside a theatre.
Working With Other Directors
I just signed a new French director who made his first movie with no money, he’s extremely promising. His name is Djinn Carrenard and he just made a movie called Donoma. It’s really interesting stuff. He’s the type if guy I really want to follow up. He’s got the same type of energy with a completely different approach to Quentin. He’s 100% sure of what he wants to say and how he wants to say it and not making any kind of concession to the industry. That’s really the kind of relationship I’m looking for with directors. . For me the most important part is the relationship with the director and selecting projects I can expand with everything I’ve got.
- Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man Shakes You Down For Another Dollar - October 18, 2018
- Return of Wolverine #4 Slips Into January 2019 - October 18, 2018
- Ch-Ch-Changes: Vault Of Spiders #2 Adds Scott Koblish, Mark Bagley and More - October 18, 2018
- Sara Pichelli Replaced on Fantastic Four #4 by Stefano Caselli - October 18, 2018
- Ch-Ch-Changes: Luciano Vecchio Will Join Ironheart #1, Issue #2 Slips to January - October 18, 2018