Braquo, Pigalle - Kodak

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Braquo, Pigalle - Kodak

22

1

focus on film

35mm

Canal+ focuses on

2-perf

French channel Canal+ is a major player in television

broadcasting and the distribution of paid television

programming. A pioneer of new television methods and a

precursor to satellite high definition format in France, it has

enriched the quality of French television movies and series by

favouring 35mm 2-perf. Under the direction of head of drama,

Fabrice de la Patellière, Canal+’s ground-breaking endeavours

represent a small revolution in this field.

InCamera talked to Fabrice de la Patellière about his

experiences with 35mm 2-perf.

Q Fabrice, in terms of programming quality, how would you

define the policy of Canal+?

A We want to go beyond traditional French drama and achieve

cinema-quality work. In the last five years we have produced

movies and series, but we have also been developing

a ‘different’ form of television: one that demonstrates

ambitions normally reserved for cinema. However, I speak

with some caution as there have been some awesome

achievements in cinema films, but certain aspects are not

so good. Cinema is not intrinsically superior to television; it

is merely different. Nevertheless, a minor cultural revolution

is necessary to rid television of its poor image, especially

amongst film crews that shoot their own cinema films, or

work for both television and cinema. It is very important to

communicate our desire and enthusiasm for a new kind of

television.

Q Why did Canal+ start using 35mm 2-perf?

A Right from the development phase of the first Canal+

series, we discussed lighting with the DPs and directors.

We wanted to put an end to what has long been called

‘the television image’, i.e. an image which is rather flat and

uniformly lit, with compulsory sharpness throughout. It

produced a result lacking a personal, artistic touch and was

emotionally unrealistic for the audience. This generic image

corresponded to the standard television code of the time

(which has since evolved slightly). A lack of resources in

television production meant that the image was neglected,

lighting was limited and photography was considered a

minor element. We decided to change that by proposing

a very different environment. Now, as soon as we begin a

production, we talk to the DP about his or her intentions

and visual references, so that we can anticipate the final

look. It is very important for us to create a beautiful and

coherent visual universe; one that is different from the

casual television look and feel. DPs are delighted with this

form of interaction, which is so unusual amongst television

broadcasters. We tell them: ‘Work in a way that is generally

forbidden on television. Don’t be afraid to use back-lighting,

deep shadows, contrast and depth of field. Use the full range

of visual grammar to breathe a cinematic dimension into

television!’ In this quality-focussed perspective, the role of

film capture becomes formidable and unrivalled.

Q Has Canal+ abandoned Super 16 format?

A When well implemented and well lit, Super 16 gives

magnificent results. We still use this format, but we want

to go further. When we started five years ago, 35mm was a

dream – essentially for economic reasons. Today, thanks to

the efforts of the laboratories and the arrival on the market

of 35mm 2-perf, it has become a viable alternative, even

though it is still somewhat expensive. A real film look adds

so much to the attractiveness of television shows that the

cost can be justified. Another reason for wanting to work

with 35mm 2-perf and HD, which together represent

the future of television, is that audiences – and in

particular our own Canal+ subscribers – have become

accustomed to watching cinema films. Whether

good or bad, they possess an excellent image

quality. It was therefore necessary for 35mm

2-perf to become an affordable option for

television drama. The focal lengths used on

35mm cameras tailor our perception of

the visual image as well as the depth of

field, the actors and the frame. Today

everyone is impressed and even

amazed by what can be achieved

with 35mm 2-perf. The Braquo

and Pigalle, la nuit series are the

latest examples. Professionals

can probably better discern

the difference, but viewers

sense it and realise

they are not watching

traditional television.

The more we

advance, the more

we are riding the

tide of history.

Q So how do you decide

which format to use?

A Initially television

adopted a square

format, but today

16:9 television sets

are standard. This

allows us to shoot

mainly in 1.77

or 1.85 format

and enhance,

as necessary,

the cinematic

appearance

of our shows.

Carlos, le

chacal, by

director

Olivier

Assayas,

is a unique

case. It was

shot in 2.35

and will be broadcast

in France as three 90-minute

programmes, together with an international feature-film

cut. Black strips will be visible on the top and bottom of

the screen, because Canal+ never re-frames any films

it broadcasts. Our policy is to respect the original

creation.

Canal Plus.indd 1 5/1/10 13:22:37


Q Does the use of 35mm 2-perf facilitate the export of television

movies and series?

A Production quality and visual image are crucial to the

market and can only help to sell more programmes.

Q Do you think that the use of 35mm 2-perf in

television induces different on-set behaviour?

A Compared to digital – certainly! There is

no question that the presence of a 35mm

camera generates additional respect. Even

the actors value it. The care we take with

our series and the resources we allocate

(which are well above normal television

production standards) create a unique

and gratifying atmosphere; one that

raises everyone’s energy level. It is

encouraging to see a happy team

that is proud to work in such

conditions.

2

3

focus on film 23

Q Do you think that the use of 35mm 2-perf on television will

attract film crews to work on television projects?

A When I first started in this field, many producers and film

directors politely stated that television drama might interest

them one day if it offered what cinema couldn’t deliver. In

other words, they felt that television still had to prove its

worth. Today, that gap has narrowed considerably. Inevitably,

some directors and producers remain disinterested in

television, but more and more are becoming excited by it

– especially the idea of a series that would enable them to

develop stories and characters over a period of time; a luxury

that cinema does not permit. Moreover, with 35mm 2-perf

we guarantee them the reassurance of working with their

regular teams to shoot television productions that are of

equal worth to cinema films.

Q In this regard, Canal+ has always been a pioneer...

A It’s our trademark. There would be no reason to pay

to subscribe to television that is similar to regular, free

television. Since his arrival at Canal+, director-general

Rodolphe Belmer has put all his efforts into making Canal+

as exceptional as possible.

Q So Canal+ is leading the way for other private channels, as

well as the French public channels...

A That’s what the many producers we have worked with have

been telling us, and it’s true – we have raised the bar very

high. Our goal is to create a unique channel and continue

to develop television quality, both technically and

artistically.

The Canal+ Group employs 4,500 people and has

in excess of 10.5 million subscribers.

1 A scene from the French TV drama Pigalle 2 Fabrice de la Patellière

3 A scene from French TV drama Braquo

Canal Plus.indd 2 5/1/10 13:22:44

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