The Artist. Why the producer deserves the loudest applause.


In case you've haven't noticed, there's a new silent film called The Artist and it's getting some rave reviews. Not only is it silent, it's also shot entirely in black and white. It doesn't have any big name actors in it and the storyline is about a 1920's Hollywood star.

Given today's love of computer generated graphics and 3D visuals, the chances of success for a movie like this would be pretty slim. Or so you would have thought.

The truth is, somebody, somewhere must have taken a huge gamble. The director himself admits it hasn' been easy, "When I first told people about my idea for this movie, they just laughed at me,'' Michel Hazanavicius says. ''Friends, actors, producers - they all laughed. Nobody wants to see a movie like that.''

But obviously they do. Hazanavicius's unremittingly charming and inventive movie about a 1920s Hollywood star is proving a bona fide international crowd-pleaser.

Obviously the director deserves a lot of credit, but I think the person who persuaded the financiers to put the money up in the first place deserves the loudest applause.

That guy is Thomas Langmann. A French producer who managed to create a French-funded, French-created film about Hollywood. And he got his French financiers to back a movie that many more experienced and knowledgeable movie people saw as preposterous.

When asked why he took on such a challenge, Langmann replied, "Michel was someone who wanted to do something different, that's what I really liked. Accompanying a dreamer, that's the essence of my work".

Thomas Langmann is no stranger to risk taking. His father was a titan of French cinema who acted, wrote, directed and, most importantly, produced films during his 50-year career. As the director of Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources, Thomas Langmanns father (Claude Berri) proved Europe could go out there and produce big budget pictures to rival Hollywood.

Now his son Thomas is also breaking the rules. Prior to The Artist, he produced "Astrix aux Jeux Olympiques" the most expensive French movie ever produced. He also produced a film on the French gangster Jacques Mesrine, another high-risk venture released in two parts Public Enemy No. 1, Part 1 & Part 2.

There's no doubt that Thomas Langman is a hot young movie producer who is destined for greatness. Watch this space.

John Fountain is a freelance copywriter. Follow @fountainjohn.



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