INTERVIEWS

Julien Leclercq: “Robbers will be a very intense series”

The director of The Earth and the Blood tells us more about the Netflix series whose preparation he has just announced.

Earth and Blood has been at the top of the Top Netflix France for a few days. I imagine that it is a great satisfaction.
Of course. What is crazy is that the film is also in the Top 3 in Brazil, Italy, Spain, where, most of the time, the first places are trusted by American or local films.

How do you explain this success?
The pitch is simple and universal, I think. And its DNA corresponds to the platform where action films occupy a large place.

You are one of those rare French directors who speak without complexes on Netflix …
(cutting) I don’t understand the controversies. Netflix arrived in France about 5 years ago without cinema admissions being impacted – we still revolve around the 200 million tickets sold per year. Why has this baffled the production sector so much? I do not understand. You should know that in France, the cinema is an environment of heirs and power very closed. Suddenly, we find ourselves facing an operator who doesn’t care about the name of the director or the cast; what matters to him is the film. It totally reshuffles the cards and gives a chance to directors who might not have emerged via the traditional French circuit.

Would the Earth and the blood have been complicated to mount without Netflix?
Clearly. Our DNA, in France, is comedy and drama, produced by the chain at the expense of genre films. As a spectator, this lack of plurality saddens me.

SAMI BOUAJILA EVOKES THE EARTH AND THE BLOOD
Let us come to the Braqueurs series , taken from your film of the same name, which you have just announced the start of construction by Netflix.
After the film was released in theaters, we discussed this possibility with my associate producer, Julien Madon. When Netflix, in 2018, bought Braqueurs , which outperformed in several territories, we proposed the idea to them. It didn’t drag on: Netflix ordered it from us. We were then in the middle of filming The Earth and the Blood . We have been developing it for about a year.

Can we know more about it?
(laughs) Not yet … What I can tell you is that our model is the Gomorra series , also from a film. It is not a sequel or a prequel and there will be new characters. But it will always be confrontation between robbers and dealers. It’s a very ambitious series with a lot of real stunts, reinforced by visual effects. I created it with Hamid Hlioua, the cannabis showrunner .

Nothing on the casting?
The current situation means that we are still at the speculation stage. The lifting of the containment, if confirmed, will restart the preparation which had stopped dead. I hope to start filming on August 24.

What serial form will it be?
A mini-series of six to eight episodes. It will be very intense, very electric and more feminine than the film.

Can your close links with Netflix revive your project on Alain Prost?
Hmm, well seen … (laughs) We are discussing … We took advantage of the confinement to rework the script which, I think, is pretty insane. It’s a potentially very expensive film because it is ambitious: you have to recreate the 80s, imagine spectacular racing sequences with cars loaned by museums, think about the visual effects, it’s very complex. We take time to do it, which I hope, upon arrival, will pay for the film.

Listening to you, it seems to be almost on track.
Haha! I’m pretty sure I’ll do it next year, with or without Netflix. My relationship with Alain Prost, which has grown over the years, is important on this point. He very much wants this film to see the light all the more since it has a strong international potential through the Prost-Senna rivalry. For the moment, I am finalizing the preparation of the Braqueurs series and the editing of Sentinelle , the other action film I shot in the wake of Earth and Blood for Netflix.

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