Met at the La Rochelle Festival, Sarah Farahmand, the producer of “Here everything begins”, returns for us on the success of the TF1 soap opera and teases us the intrigues to come. Including the revelation of a big secret about Maxime (Clément Rémiens).
AlloCiné: The first anniversary of Here Everything Begins is fast approaching. How do you see this first season?
Sarah farahmand (producer): I draw a pretty crazy balance sheet. When we think back to the development of the series, which took place in full containment in March 2020, and we see success today, we realize every day how lucky we are.
The results are really very positive, at all levels. Public success of course, audiences, critical reception. But also the fact that the series is often cited, beyond the articles that there are on the daily soap operas, on the themes of society and the questions of gender or sexuality that it addresses. And then we are very proud to reach all audiences. We all know, within the team, someone who watches Here Everything Begins, regardless of age. We are delighted to reach so many people.
In your opinion, is it the theme of cooking that makes viewers who had never been interested in daily soap operas before become addicted to Here It All Begins?
I have the impression that there is a mix between the theme of the kitchen and the fact that we have chosen to be in a closed and unique place. It’s a risk, of course, and it remains, even if today we are a little more reassured than a year ago (laughs). But the people who perhaps had prejudices about the daily soap operas certainly said to themselves “Ah, there is no police station, the hospital, the school like in the other dailies”. This obstacle being crossed, they were more attracted. And then they got caught up in the force of Here it all begins. I think it’s more like that.
And it is sure that being launched last year, in November, in full containment and in full curfew has helped. It was a date that made everyone feel good at that time. And people got hooked. And not that since we then gained new viewers.
On this first year of Here It All Begins, is there a plot that you are particularly proud of as a producer?
The one that I find the most emblematic is the intrigue around the Delobel secret. Scripturally it is very rich because there is both the birth of a great love story between Greg (Mikaël Mittelstadt) and Eliott (Nicolas Anselmo), and the revelation of a heavy family secret. I find this plot really very successful.
But I also really like the very soap arches, very “life of the institute” that we have been able to do, such as the end-of-year exams, the entrance exam, the inheritance stories, the shenanigans of Louis and de Teyssier. It’s pure soap and there was this a priori that in France we could not do pure soap. We finally prove the opposite and we have a lot of fun in this register.
You mentioned the Delobels. Do you confirm that we will soon see Greg’s parents on the show?
That’s right. There is going to be an intrigue around the end of October-beginning of November during which they will need to come back to the castle.
Since the beginning of the series, it is in the DNA of Here everything begins to explore the family past of the different students through the narrative arches and to introduce us to certain members of their respective families. Can we therefore expect to discover Eliott’s parents soon?
We know that this is a strong demand that we will try to meet. I can’t say when. But since there is a demand, it must be maintained. Little by little Eliott mentions his parents. Does this prepare something? Is he lying? Does he really have a trauma related to his parents? We think about it.
One of the challenges of season 2 has obviously been to bring new blood through new first graders, like Amber or Jasmine. How did you think about this renewal?
We did a big one-day brainstorming session with the authors who created the series, Coline Assous, Othman Mahfoud, and Eric Fuhrer, as well as other authors supervising the series. And every time we brainstorm – we do two a year – we always do the same thing: we throw all the ideas that come through our heads – good, bad, jokes, it will never pass at 6.30 p.m. on TF1 – and then we sort it out.
And from that we bounce with each other and we think about characters. Either by saying “We want to deal with such a secret”, so we will build a character around it. Either, in the case of Tom (Tom Darmon) for example, we wanted to have a cuisine influencer who does not have theoretical and academic legitimacy, if I may say so, and who joins the school in order to ‘to acquire. And who will have a hard time being accepted. At first we had no secrets from him, now we are thinking about it.
We really conceive the characters by asking ourselves these two questions: what don’t we have yet in the series? And who would it be interesting to link these new characters with? We even asked ourselves at one point the question of having, why not, the brother or sister of a character existing among the new students. In the end we didn’t, but maybe we’ll come back to it in season 3.
One of the strong themes of this beginning of season 2 is polyamory, which is approached through the characters of Solal and Amber. How did the desire to talk about this subject come about?
We saw how the character of Eliott was one of the stars of the series. He owes a lot to the talent of Nicolas Anselmo, but it’s also because people like his originality. We were afraid at first that this would only speak to young people, and finally the parents tell us “It looks like my son or my daughter, he or she is asking the same questions”. And so they are reassured to see that their child is not weird since he also exists on TV (laughs).
And polyamory was in the same vein. To say that today there are new romantic relationships that exist and which are not libertinism with a whip and a leash. Because you can quickly get this cliché (laughs). But rather than polyamory is a new vision of the romantic relationship, quite simply.
When the characters of Solal and Amber were imagined, did you already know that Amber was going to break the Maxime-Salomé couple?
Absolutely, it was expected. We thought about the idea of revealing a secret around Maxime (Clément Rémiens), which will be revealed soon on the air. Which is not easy because when we got to know Maxime in Tomorrow belongs to us, he was in Première in high school. And we rarely did anything extremely wrong at that age. But all the same, we will find out that he did something not very, very elegant.
And to bring this character of Amber (Claire Romain) who will come to reveal this secret, we didn’t want someone to suddenly show up and be pinned down like the villain. We had to get attached to her first, that we had to build a personality in her. And we also know it, we have experienced it: when a character comes just to serve an ark, behind it it is difficult to keep it and make it bounce back. So we tried to make Ambre exist a little before otherwise, to create attachment with the public and give it depth that will help the authors.
Salomé and Maxime are they a little considered by the authors like Chloe and Alex from Here it all begins, or could this intrigue spell the end of the couple for good?
I don’t know, we could say that Antoine (Frédéric Diefenthal) and Rose (Vanessa Demouy) are also the Chloé and Alex d’Ici it all begins. Or even Constance (Sabine Perraud) and Teyssier (Benjamin Baroche) for that matter, in a slightly more twisted genre, but in any case a fairly infallible couple and a fairly solid family casually.
What is certain is that Maxime and Salomé (Aurélie Pons) are the main couple in the series, because we have seen them form. These are two heroes who have been put forward a lot. But they are 20 years old, nor are they 40 years old. At 20, do feelings last forever? I do not know. And we don’t necessarily want to say that. Can they go their separate ways and get back together? Are they going to realize that they evolve differently?
We obviously want romantic stories that make you dream, but the reality at 20 is that you don’t stay together for a lifetime. And it is a bit valid for all couples. We regularly ask ourselves questions about each of our couples. We can ask it for Mehdi (Marvin Pellegrino) and Hortense (Catherine Davydzenka). Or Marta (Sarah Fitri) and Théo (Khaled Alouach). Well, for Greg and Eliott, we are a little more measured because we do not want to be blacklisted from social networks (laughs).
But, overall, for everyone, we regularly say to ourselves “Where are they today?” And we are not in the idea of all marrying them and seeing them leave the institute having found the love of their life. It wouldn’t be very realistic (laughs).
Each year, characters will complete their studies at the institute. Thus asking the question of their future within the series spent the third and final year of teaching. This was the case for Louis and Theo this year. Was it complicated to find a way to keep them on the show?
This year it was not very complicated because we only had two, who also had their parents in the series, so family ties that gave them a foundation. And these are two characters that we love. Louis (Fabian Wolfrom), we know how difficult it is to succeed as a villain. He is, he’s super complex, and at the same time he’s super touching because his eternal quest for a dead father is a quest that is in vain. And therefore necessarily moving.
And Theo, I’m going to tell you a little secret, he’s my favorite character. It was a little less put forward. But in the War of the Chiefs plot that aired this summer I find it exploded. This very skin-deep boy who also has big paternal recognition problems to resolve (laughs). It was quite natural for us to keep them, there was still too much to talk about with them.
And since we didn’t have a restaurant chef, and we know that it exists in hotel schools, it was a good way to keep them at the institute and in the series. Next year, in theory, more of them will finish their studies at the institute, whether it be Salomé, Anaïs, or Enzo, and we are therefore a little in denial for the moment (laughs). We know that we have to find a solution but we take everything in its time.
What can you reveal about the upcoming storylines of Here It All Begins?
The coming weeks will be dedicated to the Eye for an Eye Ark. We will see Ambre weaving a web around Maxime, who will be a sometimes consenting victim. We don’t know if Ambre has real reproaches to make to Maxime, if she is taking revenge on something. That is going to take time. And we are going to see for the first time a fairly isolated Maxime. We will therefore wonder if he is guilty and if he is a less irreproachable person than what we might have thought. And the truth will obviously be an in-between.
And after this ark, we will finally find out who Naël’s mother is. There will be a revelation around that, with strong twists and turns. Several hypotheses will be explored.
Despite the success of the series, a bonus is still not on the agenda?
No, it’s still not relevant and I’m not doing worse in terms of hours of sleep (laughs). A bonus is really something complicated on a daily basis.
On Tomorrow belongs to us we had succeeded in doing it by extracting a group of characters who would live another story with thrills before and some consequences after. But we weren’t really touching the universe of the series. On Here Everything Begins, it would be really complicated because of our unique arena. If we were to do it at the castle, I don’t know how it would be done. At the moment it doesn’t seem very natural to us anyway.
Interview during the La Rochelle TV Fiction Festival.