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Studiocanal Ramps Up Feel-Good Fare With Canal Plus Original ‘UFOs’

As COVID-19 seems set to roil far into 2021, Studiocanal, one in all Europe’s greatest film-TV powerhouses, is ramping up what it sees as its personal antidote to distressed occasions: A gross sales slate arsenal of feel-good, gentle collection answering a market want for escapist fare.

Drawing ever extra from its community of Studiocanal-owned firms round Europe, in December Studiocanal confirmed gross sales rights to romantic drama “Two Lives,” from Spain’s RTVE and Bambu Producciones. In January, ITV premieres “Discovering Alice,” a second probability in life dramedy starring “Bodyguard’s” Keeley Hawes, from the U.Okay.’s Purple Manufacturing Firm.

Subsequent week, on Jan. 11, French pay TV big Canal Plus premieres one in all its most anticipated Creations Originales of the yr, retro French thriller dramedy “UFOs,” produced by François Ivernel at Paris-based Montebello Productions.

“There’s a transparent demand for escapism in drama as a result of present circumstances,” mentioned Beatriz Campos, Studiocanal senior VP, world gross sales and manufacturing financing, TV collection.

“Inside this development there may be additionally a giant demand for unique and distinctive content material and ‘UFOs’ ticks all of those packing containers,” she added.

Produced by Working Title, feel-good romantic comedy “What’s Love Bought to do With It?,” a function movie, proved one in all Studiocanal’s best-selling films at November’s American Movie Market – certainly its greatest gross sales hits total.

Mild-hearted dramas akin to “UFOs,” Canneseries opener “La Flamme,” “Discovering Alice” and “Execs and Cons” are “touring extraordinarily properly internationally,” with offers to be introduced very quickly, Campos promised.

Directed by Antony Cordier (“Gaspard on the Wedding ceremony”), “UFOs” was after all conceived years earlier than COVID-19. It could properly, nevertheless, anticipate most of the present appeals that some firms are speaking up – and more likely to discuss up all of the extra as pandemic fatigue units in – when bringing their newest reveals to the market.

One is escapism – immersion in one other fully-constructed world of its personal. Set to the immortal strains of Petula Clark’s “La nuit n’en finit plus,” “UFOs” begins with a turquoise blue automobile pulling up, out of which steps a salesman in a vivid inexperienced swimsuit with an extended collared shirt, flared trousers, kipper tie, sideburns and bouffant hair. That is 1978 France, a world of flier glasses, patterned shirts and close to fridge-sized computer systems.

There’s additionally a lightness of tone. Excessive drama is performed to comedian impact, and the viewers is ensured from “UFOs’” first three sequences, that there might be little on-screen tragedy of actual consequence. The presence of a doable UFO within the collection’ second scene manifests itself through a bathe of flamingos. Lower to Didier Mathure, a superb house engineer, whose profession would seem to actually go up in smoke because the French Area Company rocket he’s spent 10 years constructing explodes on take off. The autumn out is, nevertheless, comically gentle.

Didier is transferred to GEPAN, a real-life French authorities UFO division populated by a bevy of odd-balls with hearts of gold. The transfer proves his salvation.

Selection talked about “UFOs” to Campos and Ivernel, well-known whereas CEO of Pathé U.Okay. for producing “The Queen,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Vivid Star,” “127 Hours,” “The “Iron Girl” and “Philomena.”

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© Nicolas Velter / Montebello Productions / Canal+

Creating “UFOs,” which will need to have been method earlier than COVID-19, have been you continue to responding to any sense of market demand, or alternative to reinvent the comedy half hour in France, or possibly neither of those?

Ivernel: Neither, really. I used to be drawn to the core of the story, to its tone and creators [Clémence Dargent, Martin Douaire]. I can’t say I noticed it as plain comedy. I used to be actually excited a couple of collection on UFO investigators impressed by French Area Company unit GEPAN, whose job was to research unidentified aerospace phenomena. GEPAN actually existed and nonetheless exists immediately.

What concerning the setting: France in 1978?

Ivernel: I used to be drawn to the period, to its allure, a interval the place the advantages of technological progress have been nonetheless thought to be excessive. We thought the world would get higher.

The collection revels in bygone cutting-edge high-tech, which now appears so comically archaic akin to GEPAN’s laptop….

Ivernel: It was a wierd world certainly. You have been solely allowed to make use of the pc on particular events and the primary body was very mysterious, dealt with by a chief technician and requiring enormous energy. Our story is a type of dramedy, or a narrative instructed with tongue in cheek humor…

It’s additionally sci-fi. We’re you drawn to this combine as a result of it may very well be fairly unique?

Campos: Sure. “UFOs” deftly touches sci-fi house, which is unquestionably a development we see rising, however which is exclusive in a comedy drama collection.

GEPAN asks if we’re alone within the universe. The collection seems to take this in a metaphorical sense, in a narrative a couple of buttoned, ultra-rationalist, Didier, who awakes to the potential of alien life, possibly, however particularly to the lives of others, and folks he doesn’t perceive, his ex-wife and kids…

Ivernel: Completely. That’s the reason there may be an “s” in “UFOs.” It’s about how we’re all extraterrestrial to one another, we’re all overseas to one another. Didier’s trapped inside himself, however begins investigating different dimensions of the universe, most particularly his personal life and understanding of his ex-wife and his kids.

On this sense, it seems like one thing of a second-chance-in-life narrative turning on an Alpha Male scientist who’s actually a person youngster and has to develop up….

Ivernel: Sure, very a lot. Didier’s life has exploded together with his rocket. He’s taken divorce laborious. It’s rather a lot a couple of second probability in life which harks again to ‘40s screwball comedy: They have been in love. Now, they aren’t. However they’ll fall in love once more and re-marry.

Campos: “UFOs” makes the viewers really feel good: Second possibilities in life are essential and laughter remains to be a much-needed treatment on our screens.

There’s a unprecedented early scene within the Arctic, the place a younger Inuit lady discovers the salesperson’s swimsuit pin. The units studiously – and sometimes comically – recreate interval element. There a way that that is fairly high-end half hour leisure. 

Campos: The wonderful manufacturing values and skilful execution should not that frequent on this style. “UFOs” units a really excessive bar. Canal Plus backing permits collection to scale up, realizing their inventive ambitions due to greater budgets.

Ivernel: We shot in France, on the Col du Mont Cenis on the France-Italy border within the Alps at 2,000 meters [6,800 feet], a giant complicated shoot final February. It was very chilly, however not chilly sufficient. We discovered a person who constructed a village of igloos however they melted the primary time spherical.

The actual scene-stealer, nevertheless, is the flamingo.

Ivernel: It was one of many challenges. At first I believed we’d have to make use of animatronics or 3D. However we discovered a fowl specialist who borrowed two pink flamingos from pals at a zoo. When born in captivity, these animals can grow to be very near individuals. So the flamingo simply walked across the set like a cat.

Emiliano Granada contributed to this text. 

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Beatriz Campos and François Ivernel
Courtesy: Beatriz Campos / François Ivernel

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