The Cloud: how to make a genre film with grasshoppers?

The director Just Philippot gives us his instructions for use.

Virginie, a single mother, struggles to raise edible grasshoppers. The solution? Feed them human blood to turn them into super grasshoppers … The Cloud could have mutated into nanar, but the director Just phillipot managed to keep his feet on the ground.

By growing La Nués in the laboratory

The Cloud, history of a mutation, is itself the result of an experience. “I was one of the first SoFilm residencies around genre cinema, created by Thierry Lounas“, explains Just Philippot, 37 years old.”It was a real laboratory for designing films differently, an environment of technicians (musicians, VFX managers) that you normally meet quite late in a project. I wrote and shot a short film, Acide, which went very well and which toured festivals.. “Thierry Lounas then said to himself that a scenario from the same laboratory, The Cloud, signed by Franck Victor and Jérôme Genevray, would connect perfectly to the universe of the young director. A meeting with Lounas and Manuel Chiche (co-producer and distributor via The Jokers) wins the decision: Just Philippot will shoot The Cloud.

La Nurée: elegant and efficient genre cinema made in France [critique]

By rewriting without wanting to copy the Americans

Without being credited with the screenplay, Philippot makes some changes, while respecting the initial structure. “But I shouldn’t be mistaken about my feelings. For example, I arrived by asking myself the question of the number of grasshoppers. In the script, there were hundreds of thousands of bugs, roaming free in a dome … And I was given about 5000 grasshoppers, I had to make do with it. (Laughs.) I wondered how we could transcribe that. This is the difference, the click: in the original scenario, the heroine was very distant from her job, she was a spectator, we did not see how she operated. I said to myself no, it’s a film about work, you had to show how she suffered it on a daily basis. Consequently, we had to reinvent the space where Virginie practices. I designed the technical environment, the work chain. It was a form of rewriting. I wanted to believe in the film, to make it probable. Realistic. Here, the disaster is not caused by a Gremlin bought in a flea market that is thrown under water! It was necessary to get to the level of the characters, the spectator must have the impression of knowing them. They are real people, with very current problems: how to feed your children in a world like ours? All of that took us away from an American style model. Anyway, how could you stick to the Americans when you shoot near Agen, in the Lot-et-Garonne?

By assuming a political point

I really wanted to give Virginie the role of the last bulwark: she has no right to fail, both as a business manager and as a stay-at-home mom.“, says the filmmaker.”She is not a farmer’s daughter. She uses a breeding method she got online through South America …“The film’s political message is clear: the self-entrepreneurial mindset is eating us up to blood.”Today, you are no longer an employee, you are a self-employed person, you invoice your work. Worldwide. Uber, Amazon … it’s become a state of mind. “

The Cloud
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By respecting insects

Aside from Suliane Brahim and her manned performance, the Mutant Grasshoppers are the true heroines of the film. The challenge in turning them into fierce cannibals has been not to turn them into monsters. “We had about 4000 grasshoppers in a cycle. They had a lifespan of fifteen days: the dead locusts were frozen to be used later for the scenes where they devour each other. Our animal keeper, Pascal Trévi, was awesome (he also worked on Petit Paysan). The only ones made are in resin, for close-ups of mutations, the work of Pierre-Olivier Persin. There are no animatronics: for the scenes where the grasshoppers eat each other, we filmed real ones that eat banana residue on the dead. Bananas drove them crazy! (Laughs.) Otherwise, we tried with grasshoppers made of 50 or 60 cm in an enlarged vivarium setting, but it was too cheap compared to a real close-up … Real grasshoppers, it’s not a hassle. use. You take them and put them down like magnets. To excite them, you heat their paws, to calm them, you cool them. But it’s not bad. In a group, it makes a strange impression: they make a crazy noise and stink of the wet dog … But it is not because they were grasshoppers that we were going to mistreat them. We were very respectful. They are very practical insects, in fact. Very kind !

By trusting the agricultural sector

Serious and his cannibal vet, Little Farmer and its bovine pandemic, now The Cloud and its crazy grasshoppers: French genre cinema is perhaps being saved by the agricultural world. “Today, there is a real question of the relationship to the land. These people are on the front lines, on the front lines. They feed us. With Little Farmer or The Cloud, we touch the heart of our way of being, of the challenge of yesterday’s and tomorrow’s resources“, insists the young director who considers our farmers as heroes – of cinema and of everyday life.”When I see a guy alone on his tractor in Beauce, facing kilometers of land, I tell myself he’s a hero. At the same time, you wonder how he does it, what products he uses on his land and what he eats … But I don’t want to point out any culprits or victims, we’re all in the same shit. “

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