Zoran Boukherma – Teddy: “Doing the pastiche of an American horror film did not interest us!”

And suddenly a werewolf appears in the Pyrenees and on our screens! In Teddy, the young hero has hairs that grow dangerously. Interview.

Where did this idea for a werewolf film come from in the Pyrenees?

Zoran Boukherma: From a self-produced short film during the summer of 2017, shot with a mobile phone. Our mother, a friend and our little brother made up most of the cast. In the house where we were vacationing, there was a werewolf disguise, a mask, and fake hairy hands. With Ludovic [son frère jumeau et coréalisateur de Teddy], we immediately stopped writing our second feature film [après Willy 1er en 2016] who got bogged down to write a quick little horror film. It totally unlocked us. The carelessness with which we wrote this short film guided us for the rest …

Does the tone of this short film resemble that of Teddy today ?

Yes. It was already intentionally funny. We thought the very idea of ​​a werewolf movie was going to cause some lag. This little film was still very experimental. Even beyond the general tone, there was a desire to create anxiety, a bit like the horror movies we watched as teenagers …

The werewolf movie is almost a genre in itself. How to reappropriate a mainly Anglo-Saxon imagination?

We wanted to bring together the American imagery of the movies we watched as a teenager and the Southwest in which we grew up. We could not have imagined a werewolf film without this precise territorial anchoring. We put the figure of the werewolf at the service of a social theme. Teddy is the portrait of a kid who is marginalized more and more. A growing anger took hold of him but rather than treating it in a naturalistic way, we used the fantasy mode. In 2017, during the writing, the memory and the trauma of the attacks of 2015 were still very present in our minds. The question then arose of these kids who become monsters. We approached the thing in a very primitive way through the itinerary of a young man who becomes one.

From the first sequence, very funny by the way, Teddy puts himself on the margins, making fun of the inhabitants of his village …

Teddy does not claim anything, it is a solitary “wolf”, victim of a curse. This curse, however, responds to a life that places him on the margins: a job in which he does not flourish, a complex vis-à-vis his girlfriend’s family, the rejection of young people of his age … Unconsciously. , all this plays in its transformation. It is really the duality of the werewolf figure that interests us here. During the day it is completely normal, at night it expresses devastating impulses. Impulses that make him commit acts that he no longer remembers when he wakes up. He’s a victim.

How was the Southwest an ideal playing area?

We were not interested in making the pastiche of an American horror film. In France, fantastic cinema does not exist very much and we wanted it to be embodied in a national territory. We grew up in the Southwest. The gap produced by the very location of the action perpetuated the tone of Willy 1st. Anchoring in the South-West also helped us not to get lost on the way, to follow the right course.

Teddy is not a film that uses a lot of effects but rather plays the card of dissimulation, restraint …

Indeed, there is a diffuse use of the fantastic. The fantastic works much better when it appeals to the imagination of the spectator. I remember a disappointment at the sight of Encounters of the Third Kind by Steven Spielberg when we were kids. The whole part where we couldn’t see the aliens was fascinating, we could make out signs here and there. From the moment they physically appeared on the screen, the magic disappeared. This is why we only show the werewolf at the very end and again in a very discreet way. We didn’t want to disappoint. Also, we couldn’t afford to compete with movies like The werewolf of London by John Landis or Howls by Joe Dante, models of the genre.

Who designed the werewolf?

Chris Calcus, who took care of the artistic direction of the series ship Missions on OCS. It represented four months of work. The latex costume is two meters. Even though the work was good, it didn’t work out in the picture. During editing, we therefore hid the beast as much as possible. For our next film, Year of the shark [avec Marina Foïs, Kad Merad…], we had a five-meter robotic shark made …

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How did you choose Anthony Bajon to play Teddy?

Initially, we were looking for an actor from the South-West, but seeing Prayer by Cédric Kahn, we wanted to meet Anthony. There was evidence. Teddy is not a very likeable character in his dealings with others. However, it was necessary to create empathy for him. Anthony provided the solution. He is an adorable, gentle, childish person. He is immediately endearing.

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