Published on Nov. 26, 2023 at 9:05 a.m.
Despite a very limited budget, “Follow” received the prize for best 52 minutes at the La Rochelle Fiction Festival last September. Newly independent within the subsidiary dedicated to the series she created within Bonne Pioche, Victoire d’Aboville was able to savor her achievement. As she showed, you can make a good series with limited resources. Also at the origin of the idea, she tells us the genesis of this unique and captivating thriller.
How did the idea for this series come about?
After years as a producer in the M6 group, I launched a new challenge in 2020 by creating a subsidiary dedicated to series for the production company Bonne Pioche. I quickly sold the pitch for the series “Brigade Anonyme” with Eric Cantona to M6 and then I met Hector Lavigne (head of acquisitions and productions at NBCUniversal France, owner of 13e Rue), who spoke to me of its project to co-produce two series per year which correspond to the DNA of 13e Rue, namely thrillers which stand out from other platforms, rather dark and feminine, and a constrained budget. This immediately interested me, as I am a fan of films like “The Lord of the Lambs” or “Zodiac”. It turns out that I had an intern who had been a community manager at the Paris Prefecture, and as, moreover, I am waging a personal battle against social networks, I told myself that this was a good starting point. After the green light, I worked with Sophie Dab and Florian Spitzer to develop it.
What do you criticize about social networks?
I think that many people, especially young women, post too many photos on the networks and thus provide a lot of information to possible predators, as we saw this summer with the burglary of the home of this fashion influencer Xenia Adonts . This makes no sense after MeToo. Not only is this permanent exposure dangerous for people but also for society: what will become of us if we continue to elevate the self as an absolute value? Frankly, it’s chilling. I want to put social media on trial with this series. And surely with others too because it is a formidable dramaturgical engine.
What contribution does the director, Louis Farge, make to the cold, disturbing, empty atmosphere of “Follow”?
Without him, the series wouldn’t be what it is. He is very talented and has managed to create something original in a genre that is nevertheless ultra-defined. I loved “Inner Kitchen,” which he did for 13th Street, and I really liked the person when I met him. He invested fully in the project, he followed all the steps and managed to transcend the budgetary constraints of the series. He rehearsed the scenes a lot in advance with the actors to respect the schedule, shot a lot indoors _ at the CNAM and a building opposite the Louvre to make the Police Prefecture _, took advantage of the winter and strikes to give this impression of emptiness, of solitude, and to give a truly particular atmosphere and color to the whole. We were clever too. For example, the story of the curfew, a little extreme in the case of a murderer _ even serial _ allows us to bring the exterior to life when we cannot show it due to lack of resources and extras . With this series, we proved that you can make a good series with little money.
How much in this case?
We shot six 45-minute episodes in 35 days. We optimized everything. The budget amounted to 2.3 million euros.
What were the biggest challenges beyond the budget constraint?
First, the main character. We knew we had a strong concept but we really wanted to make a thriller and not a thriller: we therefore needed to put the heroine in danger. Thus, Lena must retain an element of mystery, a strangeness, something that we do not understand, but at the same time we must become attached to her, wish her well. Marie Colomb achieves this perfectly. And beyond that, the entire cast was fantastic, from Marilyn Canto to Daniel Njo Lobé to Vincent Heneine. Next, how to represent social networks on screen. Our fear was to appear dated: we therefore sought neutrality by inventing the Life network, but at the same time we had to be contemporary enough for young people to relate to it. The graphic designers did a great job! Finally, perhaps above all, it was necessary to convey emotions. Beautiful images are important, but what matters above all is that the series carries me away, that it conveys emotions thanks to the atmosphere, the casting, the story, the music, and chance too ( a ping ambulance). But Louis Farge not only knows how to make things beautiful but also makes us vibrate.
Do you have other projects ?
With Bonne Pioche, I want to continue to produce two series per year and to unearth new talents, as ambitious as those who contributed to Follow, who renew the thriller genre, reure the channels while surprising.