An Interview on Canal +: "Benjamin Lavernhe has a real sense of comedy" according to its creator - News Séries on TV

An Interview on Canal +: “Benjamin Lavernhe has a real sense of comedy” according to its creator – News Séries on TV

Meeting with Julien Patry, screenwriter and director of the crazy shortcom of Canal + on the world of work, carried by a hilarious Benjamin Lavernhe who never stops rising.

Control Films / CANAL +
After a first short film in 2015, An Interview is now in its season 3. Did you expect such longevity by imagining this project?
Julien Patry, creator: To be honest, no. It was a unitary short film, which was completed in itself. It’s a chain of opportunities that allowed the series to exist. Christelle Graillot saw the short in festival, it was she who had the idea to make a series around Benjamin Lavernhe.

I found a writing, and I proposed the project to Arielle Saracco from Canal + and the project was born. A first season called for another, since we had not covered the subject. Additionally, each season was an opportunity to experiment with different writing and directing, season two bringing in a more feudal narrative, and season 3 an additional level of satire.

In these new episodes, what inventory did you want to make on the current world of work? How has your vision evolved?

The world of work is the arena of the series, but also a reflection of society. We are living in a leaden, uncertain period, which weighs on everyone. We are both on a break, and at the same time, it thinks very hard in our skulls. To pass the pill, the company tries to show a humanist face, to pamper its employees. And so much the better if it works! But if we look through the other end of the telescope, we can see in this incentive to happiness at work a powder in the eyes which aims to better enslave employees. If they feel better at work, they will do better for the box, so … will be more profitable.

I try to watch both sides of the lorgnette of an absurd situation that drives people crazy. The heavier the world, the stronger the injunction to be happy. You just have to look at the shelves of personal development books in bookstores, which are spreading more and more. Our HRD, in the third season, is appointed director of happiness, he must spread happiness to employees, while being unhappy deep down. From where a Cornelian dilemma, and a storm in a brain already very neurotic.

Did the health and economic crisis impact your writing as well as the shooting?

The third season took longer to hatch than the other two, since Benjamin Lavernhe and I were overwhelmed with projects. Between postponed shootings and closed theaters, the Covid crisis has finally freed up space in our schedules, and created a background for the third season. So I would say that … I took advantage of the health crisis a bit, finally. There was an opportunity to create, but above all a real subject.

It is impossible to talk about the world of work today without addressing this crisis, which reshuffles a lot of cards. I wanted to make it a backdrop without really naming it, but it is there, in small touches, via teleworking, masks and visors … without doing too much, because we do not want to film a masked actor.

What’s interesting is that a lot of business leaders don’t want teleworking, because it reassures them to see people working. It’s very paternalistic, very infantilizing. It goes hand in hand with the injunction to the happiness of the employees: It is typical of the good feeling which can become unbearable or destructive.

What was decisive in the choice of Benjamin Lavernhe to carry the series and what is your view on the evolution of his career in cinema?

When I made the short film, I had seen Benjamin only in the making-of of Radiostars, a mockumentary in which he plays a role, that of an actor who only comes to the sets out of passion for the cables of the electricians’ equipment. He was very funny, totally out of touch. I stuck.

I contacted him through a mutual producer friend, Emma Javaux. We met and I had the intuition that we shouldn’t look any further, he was there, my lunar and neurotic character! So I asked him to get out his diary and I stole his only free weekend in the month, to stall the shooting of the short.

He was already a promising young actor. Between the short and the third season, he acquired great fame, had three Césars nominations, one for Molières, carried Scapin to the Comédie Française and today leading roles, in the highly anticipated film by Laurent Tirard Le Speech for example, and it’s not over (but I’m not allowed to talk about it.) He’s a crazy actor, very musical. He has a sense of comedy, nuance, rhythm. It is a pleasure to see it inhabited by my personal neuroses!

Finally, what are your next projects?

I’m still developing two feature films and two series. I refused long ones, I want the first one to be very personal. At the end of the year, I shoot a series for OCS, Tout Tout You Too, written by two authors that I really like, Géraldine de Margerie and Maxime Donzel. It’s a spy story in the world of aerobics in France in the 80s. The pitch is salivating, isn’t it?

A season 3 interview, from April 10 on Canal + and in full on myCANAL:

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