For the last session of 2019, the Wallimage Board of Directors has decided to co-finance eight projects that are very different from each other, in their form, their origin, their potential type of exploitation as well. In all, a little more than 1.3 million euros have been invested to boost the Walloon audiovisual economy. Of these eight projects, only two are live-action feature films. Times are changing and Wallimage is committed to the new audiovisual markets and its new forms of creation.
Initiated in France, but entirely filmed here, A l’ombre des filles tells the story of an opera singer who, wanting to take a break from his career, takes the opportunity to give singing lessons to female prisoners. The subject is original and treated in a sensitive and realistic way with nice shadow areas and a lot of tension. Alex Lutz will be confronted with a series of women of character : Veerle Baetens, Agnès Jaoui and Hafsia Hersi in the lead. Thanks to Versus, the French delegated production found two model prisons in Wallonia ready to host the shooting : those of Marche and Leuze. 42 Walloons including 10 postmasters will participate in this 100% regional shooting. The equipment will be rented from TSF, the canteen will be taken care of by Location-services. On the post-production side, the editing of the live events will take place at BARDAF in PIL. Mikros will take care of the lab and deliveries while Babel Subtitling will produce the subtitles. The famous screenwriter and producer Etienne Comar (Des hommes et des dieux, les femmes du 6e étage, Timbuktu, Mon Roi…) is at the helm of this project, his second feature film as director after Django (500,000 tickets sold in France).
In a very different genre, Hinterland, signed by Austrian veteran Stefan Ruzowitzky, will plunge us into the Austria of 1922, turned upside down by the war and the ensuing political changes. Just released from the Russian camps, Peter Berg is reassigned as an investigator to track down a particularly devious serial killer. While progressing in his gloomy investigation, it is a recent and cruel past that he will see resurfacing. The singularity of the project is that the entire shooting with the actors takes place in front of a green screen. The background is then made from archival images digitally reworked for a hyper expressionist rendering. To carry out this colossal task, the Austrian producers chose to work with Benuts, who is now well known on the international scene. Following the Atlantic Crossing model, Scope will co-produce this project in Belgium for a total of more than one million Euros, which represents approximately 1400 days of work. The technical team of Benuts will include 3 post supervisors (VFX supervisor and matte painting supervisor) and no less than 19 technicians to rework over 400 shots.
There is also a lot of talk about originality and the Walloon post-production industry in the Heart of Darkness file, proposed by Artemis. This animated feature, directed by Gerald Conn, will be entirely animated… in sand. The experience is very innovative and the first images that explain the process are quite amazing. This adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness (which largely inspired Francis Ford Coppola for Apocalypse Now) will join Wallonia for the coloring, compositing and image cleaning that will be done jointly at PIL by Mikros and Wahoo. Other subjects of enthusiasm : Dub Fiction will be in charge of the French dubbing and the music of this unusual film has been entrusted to Baloji, a great artist from Liège who was once in charge of Starflam and who is now leading a formidable solo career. In all, 1,153,204 euros will be spent in Wallonia for this project that will probably be found in the major festivals and in the running for prestigious international awards in 2022.
Still in the animation department, but in a more traditional format, Belvision proposed us the second season of the televised adventures of Petit Poilu, an endearing character well known by the little ones, plunged in spite of himself, in phantasmagorical and extraordinary universes where everything is possible. 39 episodes of 7 minutes will be put in production from February 2020, partly at Dreamwall where more than 670,000 euros will be spent for the animation of 21 episodes. This investment will generate 2069 man-days of work, or 9.4 FTEs (full-time equivalent) over one year. Other good news : Walloon artists are also involved in the writing and realization of the project.
After La Trêve, Ennemi Public, Champion and Unseen, which we co-financed, Baraki will be the first authentic Walloon series to be launched thanks to the series fund of the Walloon Federation in Brussels and the RTBF. It will be declined in 20 episodes of 26 minutes on the mode of the rather insane comedy. A Belgian specificity, the Baraki is a sort of socially downgraded character, but not at all embarrassed for all that : his car is tuned, his rims blinquantes, his cap is generally put on the top of the skull and his uniform of preference is the sports tracksuit, preferably white. But underneath that uniform beats a heart, this big. At least in this series initiated by the Embourg collective, Koko agitates culture, and co-produced by 1080 (Lukas, Animals…), a company that brings together Benoit Roland and Nabil Ben Yadir. 43 Walloon technicians, including 19 postmasters, will work for 78 days in the Verviers region under the supervision of director Fred de Loof, who will direct some episodes and supervise the entire series based on scripts by Sylvain Dal, Peter Ninane and Julien Vargas.
We remain in the field of series, but Les Aventures du Jeune Voltaire, co-produced in Belgium by Umedia, is of French origin and will include four 52-minute episodes. A classic format for the very popular historical series of France 3. We will discover a little-known Voltaire, an impetuous rebel, full of his poetry and sure of his talent. In an unstable world, he multiplies facetiousness and outbursts, often irritating the power very embarrassed by his ardor. 25 shooting days out of 45 will be located in Wallonia, in castles such as Beloeil or Modave. Not forgetting the abbey of Maredsous. Among others. A team of 19 regional staff, including 2 station managers, will participate in this adventure, while the production will spend more than a million euros on technical rentals, canteen and post-production.
Still a series, also four episodes, but with very different budgets and ambitions for The Ice Rangers, a new documentary produced by Agent Double. Xavier Ziomek, director of season 2 of the H.A.N. series, will travel to the Belgian Elisabeth Station in the heart of Antarctica in January to film the lives of all the men behind the scenes, cooks, doctors, carpenters, mechanics, electricians, who allow the scientists to work in the best possible conditions possible. The subject is original, exotic and immediately aroused the interest of the RTBF. First broadcast planned, in prime time, during winter 2020.
The latest project selected is rather atypical in this line of investment, but the Wallimage Board of Directors judged that its presence there made sense. Meet Mortaza is a project that combines a virtual reality (VR) film and an augmented reality (AR) installation. Co-produced here by Dancing Dog, it will be broadcast on the TV5 website, but especially in museums. Many have already expressed an interest. Their visitors who will try the experience will be immersed in the heart of a migrant’s journey from Afghanistan to France and then live with him the Kafkaesque path that consists in obtaining the right papers to be able to stay on the territory. CoSounders (based at the Pôle image de Liège) will take care of the spatialization of the sound and the sound postproduction while Pierre-Henri Wibaut, a 3D virtualizer from Tournai, will take care of the actual realization of the exhibition. An exciting project to close out a great 2019.