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raymac Written by raymac
Dec. 20, 2010 | 6:25 PM

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An Interview With Caroline du Potet, co-director of the French thriller, IN THEIR SLEEP

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After the brutal death of her 18 year-old son, Sarah’s life is in pieces. Late one night, her car accidentally hits Arthur, a young man the same age as her boy, who suddenly emerges out of the forest and onto the road. Wounded and frightened, he is running from a mysterious assailant, hunting him down after Arthur caught him red handed in the act of burglary…

Sarah sympathizes with him, taking him in, only to be tracked down by the burglar whose murderous rage towards Arthur forces her to take action. Unbeknownst to Sarah, things aren’t quite the way they seem… but by the time she finally realizes, it is too late to turn back.

This the storyline for IN THEIR SLEEP, a sharp intense thriller with a number of twists and anchored by strong performances which screened during last month’s BLEEDFEST Film Festival. I recently spoke with co-writer and co-director, Caroline du Potet about the film:

1. How did the idea for the film come about? What inspired you to make this particular idea?
At the beginning, this project was born of our desire to make a French thriller. The concept of the story originated with the idea that appearances can be deceptive and that the “monster"is not the one who seems to be… The film is not inspired by true events but I liked the idea that this story could be a case in the news. It was important for me to make a very realistic film because I have always been convinced that the stories which could happen to us, to anybody, are much more frightening for the audience than imaginary monsters.

2. The film was co-directed with Eric Du Potet. What was the reason for having two directors? How did this collaboration affect the creative process?
Before In Their Sleep, I co-directed six short films with my brother Eric, so it was logical to continue working together on our first feature film. We know each other very well. We grew up with the same film influences. We try to discuss a lot together before shooting in order to agree on all the details and not contradict ourselves in front of the crew and the actors. I like staying with the chief operator, facing the actors. Eric prefers standing back behind the combo, to have a general view of the scene. I think being two directors on the set makes the decisions easier.

3. This was your first feature film. What challenges did you face during the production?
The main problem was budget restrictions. We had to rewrite the script and cut some scenes because we didn’t have enough money. Shooting conditions were very hard. We shot almost always during the night, in the forest, in the rain ! (which was not planned in the script…) Some special effects didn’t work very well and made the crew lose a lot of time. We didn’t have time to shoot all the shots we had planned. It was always a race against the clock !

4. Anna Parillaud’s superb performance is the heart of the film and keeps the audience invested the proceedings, how did you go about casting her and Arthur Dupont?
Anne was the only French actress we imagined to play Sarah’s character. We wanted a woman strong and fragile at the same time. Fortunately for us, we sent her the script and she was immediately taken with the project ! To play Arthur, we wanted an unknown actor. So we cast several young men and Arthur Dupont was the best !

5. The film is a nice blend of suspense and emotional drama which keeps you guessing since not everything is what it seems. When the film was completed was there any scene that surprised you by turning out differently than what you originally envisioned? Was there one scene that was your favorite?
Not really. The film is very faithful to the script. The non linear structure was written from the beginning. My favorite scene is not a spectacular scene. It’s when Sarah and Arthur, exhausted, stop by the roadside at the end of the film. Sarah gives the medallion Arthur back, meaning she can’t love him as he’d like. Both actors, truly exhausted by the shooting day, are deeply moving. There is in this scene a sort of poetry which particularly touches me.

6. Are you drawn to a particular genre? Who are your influences as a film maker?
No, we’d like to explore different genres, like fantasy, drama, thriller… even if I think we are not good at writing comedies ! For IN THEIR SLEEP, our biggest influences were Sam Peckinpah with Straw Dogs and John Boorman’s Deliverance. Like in these films, we wanted to insist on the psychology of the characters. It was also important that the violence on the screen be realistic, without bloody effects.

7. What is next for you?
We are currently working on a new French project, a “hitchcockian” thriller called TOTEM. It will be more psychological than IN THEIR SLEEP. We’d like to shoot it next year in the south of France.

IN THEIR SLEEP is currently playing on Video On Demand. Check your local cable listing.

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