ILHM Interviews In Their Sleep Director Caroline du Potet!!

France has recently exploded with a number of critically-acclaimed Horror films in the last decade, and writer/director Caroline du Potet now joins the ranks of exciting new filmmakers out of the country with the release of her new thriller IN THEIR SLEEP! Caroline stopped by I Like Horror Movies to discuss her experiences working on the film in this weekend's interview:
ILHM: Caroline, how was IN THEIR SLEEP conceived?

CP: At the beginning, this project was born out of our desire to make a French thriller. The concept of the story originated with the idea that appearances can be deceiving, and the "monster" is not always the one that he seems to be... Unlike the classical villain which is always a beast without any feelings, we wanted to create an ambivalent character; half demon, half angel...

ILHM: Was the film inspired by true events?

CP: No, but it's true in the sense that this story could be a case in the news. It was important for me to make a very realistic film because I have always been convinced that the stories which could happen to us, to anybody, are much more frightening for the audience than imaginary monsters.

ILHM: What were your major influences going into the film?

CP: Our biggest influences were Sam Peckinpah with STRAW DOGS and John Boorman's DELIVERANCE. Like in these films, we wanted the violence on the screen be realistic, without bloody effects. The tone of the movie had to be tough, with no humor. But it was also important to include some dark poetry with shots of Nature and insist on the growing feelings between the two main characters...

ILHM: Was there much studio involvement in the production?

CP: Artistically speaking, we were relatively free to make the film we wanted. The problem was budget restrictions. We had to rewrite the script and cut some scenes because we didn't have enough money. Shooting conditions were very hard. Fortunately, like most of the French directors, we had the final cut.

ILHM: How did Anne Parillaud first become involved in the project?

CP: Anne was the only French actress we imagined to play Sarah's character. We wanted a woman that was strong and fragile at the same time. Fortunately for us, we sent her the script and she was immediately taken with the project!

ILHM: What is the significance of IN THEIR SLEEP's opening scene?

CP: The first image when we see Sarah lying in the grass refers to Arthur Rimbaud's famous poem Le dormeur du val. It's about a soldier who is sleeping in the grass, but at the end of the poem, we understand that in reality he's dead. It's the same idea here. We think at the beginning Sarah is sleeping, when she's already dead. I loved the idea of showing the audience the end of the film from the start.

ILHM: What were your greatest difficulties as a first-time director, and how did you overcome them?

CP: My greatest difficulties were the lack of time... and the weather. We shot almost always during the night, in the forest, in the rain! (No of this had been planned in the script...) Some special effects didn't work very well and made the crew lose a lot of time. We didn't have time to shoot all the shots we had planned. It was always a race against the clock! Nevertheless, the atmosphere on the set was great. All the crew loved the project and threw themselves completely into the film.

ILHM: Why do you feel France has experienced such a huge Horror resurgence in recent years?

CP: Ten years ago, it was almost impossible to make a horror film in France. There were only comedies or intimist dramas. Then, a new generation of filmmakers raised with US thrillers, like Alexandre Aja or Pascal Laugier, started to initiate the movement. So young producers decided to produce some genre films, almost always feature debuts and low-budget films... Horror films are not successful in France but the international sales are good. So in the end, they are quite profitable films.

ILHM: How have the riots in and around Paris affected recent filmmakers in France?

CP: There were some riots in the suburbs but it wasn't as serious as the foreign news media reported it. All of this has been really exaggerated. It's wasn't May 68! So I think the current social tensions can affect French filmmakers but not this particular event.

ILHM: Do female filmmakers experience the same barriers to entry in France as they do in America?

CP: No, I don't think so. France is perhaps the country where there are the most female filmmakers. But only a very few of them are interested in genre films. They prefer dramas and arthouse films in general.

ILHM: Are you currently working on a new project?

CP: Yes, we are working on a new French project, a "hitchcockian" thriller called TOTEM. We'd like to shoot it next year in the south of France. It will be more psychological than IN THEIR SLEEP.

ILHM: How did you first become involved with BleedFest, the American film festival for female filmmakers?

CP: Elisabeth Fies,the festival programmer for BLEEDFEST, saw IN THEIR SLEEP at Bram Stoker International Film Festival where we won the Best Director award. She loved the film and asked me if she could screen it at her festival.

ILHM: Did you ever expect to receive such a positive response overseas, leading up to your win for the first official "Bleedy" award?

CP: I didn't really know what to expect because the film has not been very well received in France. But I was hopeful because I know the US audience loves horror films and is very curious about French genre films. Anyway, Eric and I are really happy of this positive response here. As it's our first feature film, it's an important encouragement to continue on this path.

ILHM: Where can readers find out more information on the film and its upcoming release?

CP: You can find more information on the IFC website:
IN THEIR SLEEP is currently available On Demand and in a limited theatrical release across the country, so be sure to visit the IFC homepage for more information! We would also like to extend a very special thanks to Caroline du Potet for taking the time to speak with us this weekend!

Interview By: Carl Manes.