Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau is the successful duo who has directed most of the LGBT movies that we love. Their contribution to the gay cinema is so big and they keep surprising us happily every time with their new movies. Recently, they directed Théo et Hugo dans le même bateau which has met great success all over the world. YASS Magazine was there to meet Olivier and Jacques and ask them about the secret of their success story.
What was the inspiration behind Theo and Hugo? Is it based on a real story?
No true story behind Theo and Hugo. It’s all imagination. We wanted to tell a story about a budding move. And we started with one Olivier fantasy: sometimes, he sees couples leaving the Impact, the sex club, and he wonders what happens when they are in the streets. We just tried to finish that story.
How has the audience reacted to your movie?
We think well, and all over the world. But we mostly had gay audience.
What was the biggest difficulty you faced while making the movie?
The lack of money, of course, evet if that was a choice we made when we decided to write that script. Also, the real time was a challenge, because on the set we knew there will be only a little latitude to correct our mistakes in the editing room.
Were the protagonists nervous during the sex scene and how did they feel better?
Nervous? We don’t think so, because we prepared it a lot in riding the script together and speaking about everything. But, of course they were tense, because this was unusual, and we all wanted to achieve that scene at the best.
How did you manage to portray the sex scene as a romantic scene full of desire and not as a pornographic one?
We concentrated on the story we had to tell. It’s an encounter. Boy meets boy. They fall in love. It means those pictures are not made to arouse the audience, even if they can do it.
How difficult was it to choose the main actors? It seems that they have a lot of chemistry as a couple in the movie. Do they match in reality?
Not so difficult. We made a normal casting process. Geoffrey Couët and François Nambot had the good luck to do their screen test together and right off, they seemed the obvious choice. We met them, talked with them about the film and the filming of the sex scenes and we chose them. We were smitten.
When you were writing the script, did you have that specific club on your mind? Did the owners of ‘The Empire’ accept easily?
Yes. That club, L’impact, is the only one of that kind in Paris: small, friendly. And yes, the owners were not difficult to convince.
Did you expect the big success of Theo and Hugo?
“Big success”, we’re not sure of that. We expected the movie would travel a lot, but it’s much more than we thought. For example, the movie was shown in Mexico, Russia, Taiwan, Ukraine. That’s amazing.
When you were making the movie were you scared of the people’s reactions about the raw sex scenes?
Scared? No! We knew it would be difficult with the “general” audience. But we were determined and we knew some people will appreciate. We do movies for those ones.
What are the biggest references of the film?
They’re a lot. But we can speak about Cléo de 5 à 7 of course for the real time, but also Locke by Steven Knight we saw a few months before our shooting. We can also mention Only God forgives by Nicolas Winding Refn which inspired us for the colour grading.
Is the film industry a profitable industry nowadays?
Might be! Especially in France, because the number of admissions in theatres is very high. But we didn’t get any money from that specific movie. That wasn’t the purpose anyway.
How has the image of homosexuality (as portrayed in your film) evolved since you started working in the film industry?
Social acceptance is growing in our country. But we still have to promote different images of homosexuality in films. Characters are usually very conventional and there is still a little bit of homophobia in the way gay people are portrayed.
What is your opinion about gay cinema?
Oh! That’s a big question! And the definition of gay cinema is complicated. But, anyway, we think gay cinema is very important because we can’t let only straight people portray gay ones.
We should maybe say that gay cinema is not LGBT enough: we need more lesbian movies, trans movies, etc. All form of sexuality and identity deserve to be shown.
Is HIV still the biggest threat in gay men?
Threat? No. We have medicines now and people are not dying like in the 90s. But young people still get infected, and HIV is a big concern for gay men, of course, because, in a way or in another, we all have to deal with the disease in our sex and love life.
How would you describe yourselves?
Middle-aged gay men.
How long do you know each other? And when did your collaboration start?
More than 20 years. We were a couple for 19 years. All this began in 1995… in another century.
Do you agree in everything or you disagree sometimes? Who is the “bad guy” with the actors?
Two people can’t agree all the time. But we never argue on the set (and we don’t argue so much, anyway). And we both are good with actors. There is no reason why we should be bad… except one time, more than ten years ago, with an actor who was an asshole and was making the shooting very painful for everybody in the crew. Olivier did the bad gay, and Jacques the good one (but this wasn’t the best part!).
What are your plans for the future?
A lot of presentations of the movie all over the world! And, we’re working on a new script, which will be much more a comedy like Cockles and muscles.
The Greek version of the interview was published in Antivirus Magazine: http://avmag.gr/71215/71215/