MK2’s Charles Gillibert, Film Producer, is the man behind a staggering 42 films. Charles told us more about the work of a film producer and some of the challenges he faced making On the Road.
At just 35, MK2’s Charles Gillibert is surely one of France’s most successful film producers – he is the man behind a staggering 42 films (shorts and features).... and still counting. He has worked with some of the top filmmakers and actors in France, from directors Olivier Assayas and Xavier Dolan, to actors Juliette Binoche, Gérard Depardieu, François Cluzet, Melvil Poupaud to name just tiny a few. And he has also stretched his wings internationally, producing such cult films as Paranoid Park (Gus Van Sant) and the more recent On The Road (Walter Salles) which starred one of the hottest casts around right now; Kristen Stewart (Twilight), Amy Adams (The Master, Man of Steel), Viggo Mortensen (The Lord of the Rings), Garrett Hedlund (Tron) and Kirsten Dunst (Spiderman) to name just a few.
Creative Mapping caught up with Charles at MK2 offices in Paris recently to find out more about the work of a film producer and some of the challenges he faced making On The Road.
"You have to make sure you discuss everything; the script, the characters, the way the film’s going to be shot – and the best way is to talk about the economic matters through cinema." Charles Gillibert
CM: Tell us a little more about your work and your background in film...
I produce feature films, a lot of international movies. I started out producing short films, I didn’t study that much – just two years in legal stuff. It was really interesting in the late ‘90s as all the new tools (computers, cameras, sound stuff) gave (filmmaker) the ability to go from sound to picture to video, so I was running with that kind of new wave of filmmaking; it was all about a meeting between music, cinema, art video.
CM: What makes a successful film producer?
It’s about having identity in your work and making sure when you add together all the movies you’re producing, it means something. You start by working with a director or scriptwriter and you feel confident about and you try to make things concrete and to find the best people to work with them... and you have to be able to talk to them about the budget the (marketing) strategy, all the things that the artist doesn’t want to touch. So you have to translate into that field to find the money and the people to do the work.
CM: How do you choose a film you want to produce? Is it from the script?
I’m not that good at starting from the script – it’s all about directors for me, so it’s meeting somebody you want to work with, someone whose eye (vision) tells you something.
CM: What are some of the biggest challenges of your work?
We just produced the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s book On The Road with director Walter Salles - and that was very difficult because you want to keep the lightness and craziness of that story and keep true to the history. There were big stars and a lot of pressure on the project.. for the American industry it was about an un-adaptable project/book with drugs, sex and rock and roll, so very tricky for the box office.. very difficult at every level. For me personally it was also very tough, we got the rights (to the book) and because of the actors and the nature of those rights we had to shoot the film three months later, whatever happened. So we had to prepare and finance within three months; I went to Montreal to prepare in May and said I’d be back in two days – I came back in December! That’s the kind of thing you do one time in your life.
CM: In a practical sense, how do you work with a director?
You have to make sure you discuss everything; the script, the characters, the way the film’s going to be shot – and the best way is to talk about the economic matters through cinema. If we’re talking about a big crew and everything, it’s going to change the way actors play – it’s going to be slower. You don’t just say why do you want to use such expensive things (equipment), it’s not an interesting discussion and you don’t learn more about the film you’re producing, but if you’re going to talk about how they use the camera, what are you trying to get from the actor etc... you’re working on the budget and at the same time you’re working on the (creative vision of the) movie.
CM: Does the budget put constraints on the script?
You have to have constraints which are creative – so what kind of constraints are good for the movie? Knowing the director, knowing what he’s done before... if his last film didn’t do so well, then the industry is seeing him like he’s fallen a bit, or he’s had a big success.... you try to bring him into different spaces and different fields because it’s what is good for him and that’s where he’s going to make the best movie. It’s also about trust to because if you say to a famous director ‘let’s do a $2million movie’, he has to trust that you are doing it because you’re looking for the best movie - and not because you’re trying to save as much money as possible.
CM: Is there is a specific style to the way you work or the films you produce?
It’s as complex as human beings, we are looking for filmmakers who have a contemporary eye on life in a very universal way.