Wallonia, its contrasting landscapes, the warmth of its inhabitants, its economic fund too. Wallonia, a region as beautiful as it is underestimated, has become a recurrent host for international filming.
In the last few months, an Italian thriller, a popular French film, a Danish war drama and a vintage series made in France have crossed paths. Among others.
Less than a year ago, the whole region of Viroinval was abuzz with excitement to welcome the filming of Three Days and a Life. A total success. A textbook case.
Adapted by the writer himself and the director, Nicolas Boukhrief, this novel by Pierre Lemaître was initially set in the Vosges… a region often symbolized by the Walloon forests as in the series Zone Blanche for example. But here, no ” representation “, because the authors, and the Belgian (Umedia) and French (Mahi Films and Gaumont) producers, decided to appropriate the places and to locate the action of their feature film in the small rural and timeless village of Olloy-sur-Viroin.
” “, explains director Nicolas Boukhrief, ” we wanted to work in Belgium for very practical reasons. In the first part of our film (split into two eras), children play an essential role in the plot. However, the legislation concerning filming with young people is much more flexible in Belgium than in France, where they can only be asked to work for four hours a day, including travel. “
Even more than the tax-shelter, this difference is the basis for many Belgian films featuring children or teenagers. It was still necessary to find the right village that could accommodate, without distorting it, the Machiavellian plot imagined by Pierre Lemaître.
Antonin Morel, the location scout, enters the scene and is in charge of finding the ideal setting. ” I started by traveling… on google street view because Nicolas absolutely wanted stone houses : no bricks. Whenever I found something that would fit, I would go there and send the photos to the producers .
The Clap team (today Wallimage Tournages) will give a decisive boost to the operation by identifying the Viroinval region. For a choice that will gradually tighten around Olloy-sur-Viroin.
” The village was exactly what we were looking for “, confirms the director. ” It was the right size for the plot to remain realistic and, above all, it is hilly, which allows the church to be seen very often. We thus had a precious geographical reference to better define the movements of the characters. Moreover, Olloy is surrounded by the forest which allows us to plunge the young “hero” in a permanent state of trouble since at each moment the environment reminds him of his act ” . (Editor’s note: We’ve changed the answer slightly to avoid giving away an important part of the story.)
The mayor of Viroinval (who was replaced between this stage and the shooting) quickly became enthusiastic about the idea and, even more, appreciated the unexpected proposal of the production to keep the name of Olloy-sur-Viroin for the film rather than inventing a generic patronymic that would give the impression that we were in France.
” I was surprised that the producers asked me for this permission so cautiously “, adds Jean-Marc Delizée, happy and hilarious. ” I thought we should have paid for it “.
For the commune it is an incredible honor In addition to the impact on its reputation, Olloy, the central character of Three Days and a Life, now has a (wonderful) film shot entirely within its walls, a testimony and an eternal memory for all those who have lived there, live there and will live there in the future.
If the filming lasted many weeks and turned the town upside down in the literal sense of the word, the relations between the inhabitants and the team were always fantastic, says Nicolas Boukhrief. Conquered by the kindness of the locals, he maliciously adds : ” at the beginning, they were relatively shy, watching us from afar, but at the end, they gathered around the combo to watch the scenes, which doesn’t bother me at all. They brought us quiches and soups when we were filming on the street, especially in the evening. I will never forget this incredible welcome. This is the second consecutive feature film I’ve shot in Belgium and I would gladly sign up to work only here. The atmosphere is relaxed, respectful, and the Belgian teams are great. No one gets in over their heads and everyone is perfectly efficient. “
With its array of French film stars, Sandrine Bonnaire, Philippe Torreton, Charles Berling and the young but very impressive Pablo Pauly (Patient), but also a host of Belgian actors including Jeremy Senez, Yoann Blanc or Stéphanie Van Vijve, Three Days and a Life has become a textbook case. Which we hope will be replicated by other teams.
This little overview, enriched by the magnificent shots taken by Maxime Dechamps during the shooting of a scene that does not appear in the final cut of the film (nuggets, therefore), it would be unfair not to mention the wonderful work, unanimously praised, of Yourek Dury, director and man-orchestra of this perfect integration of a long shooting in a place of life.
By constantly informing all the inhabitants, by joking with them, by talking to everyone from morning to night, Yourek managed to create a climate of trust and to make information circulate at full speed between all the different stakeholders. Quickly adopted by the inhabitants thanks to his bonhomie, his eagerness to work and his professionalism, he is one of the essential artisans of the logistical success of a film that will remain in the annals of Wallimage as one of the major successes of its support to the film industry.