Someone called me when I had friends over for dinner. It was someone who speaks English. I needed time to switch my brain in the English mode, but I understood: “…academy… motion picture…. Congratulations!!!” So I answered, “Yes ?! Thank you!” But I didn’t really understand what it was all about.
Even Pigeons Go To Heaven was a project that director Sam Tourneux started then abandoned. Well, I’m sure he’s glad that he picked it back up again. Here is what the filmmaker had to say about his film and the Oscar experience thus far.
Rick: How did you hear about your nomination? Did you wait up? Did someone call you?
Sam: Someone called me when I had friends over for dinner. It was someone who speaks English. I needed time to switch my brain in the English mode, but I understood: “…academy… motion picture…. Congratulations!!!” So I answered, “Yes ?! Thank you!” But I didn’t really understand what it was all about. When I hung up, I had a few ideas of what they were calling about: “Is it the Oscars ?!” So the day after, I called my distribution company who told me that I was in the top 10 for the nomination. A few weeks later I was stuck to the Internet waiting for the announcement… And the dream came true… Rick: Since the nominations came out has anything exciting happened because of the nomination?
Sam: An agent called me… Several congratulations from producers I know…The dream continues? Rick: What was the thing that brought you to your nominated project?
Sam: The idea came from a long work. At the beginning, I wrote a script about a man who wanted to meet God to ask him something like “why is life so difficult?” It was a 12-minute film, but honestly, it need more time to explain that kind of subject.
With the help of BUF Compagnie, I started to work on the storyboard, then the animatic and a long shot of one minute where the 2cv (the priest car) drives across the forest. At the end of four months of hard work, I realized that the film would be boring and pretentious. So I abandoned it.
Maybe two years later, I showed that first minute with the car in the forest to a production company who told me that I should continue. So I tried to imagine a new story with the elements I already build in my computer — a church; a priest; the 2cv car; an old, little house; a strange machine; a forest; and heaven… And one morning I woke up with the idea, “A priest tries to sell a machine to go to the heaven.”
I quickly wrote a first version of the script and showed it to BUF Compagnie. They liked it, but wanted me to work with Karine Binaux, who wrote screenplay while she was working at BUF as an assistant producer. She provided a lot of ideas and mainly the structure of the story. Olivier Gilbert, who was in charge of the project for BUF, oversaw the work of Karine and myself. It was pretty hard, but three months later, we had the script.
Rick: What made this project special for you?
Sam: It was the first time I could do my OWN film… It took time to write it. Took time to abandon it… Took time to rewrite it… etc…
Rick: In the next couple weeks there will be all kinds of big events going on, is there something that you are particularly looking forward to?
Sam: Meeting people in order to possibly work on longer and more challenging projects… Profiting from California’s weather (if possible).
Rick: Anything else you’d like to add?
Sam: I’m happy, but busy.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.