The director Just Philippot gives us his instructions.
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.
Released in cinemas in June 2021, the film is scheduled tonight on Arte. Do not miss.
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La Nuée: how to make a genre film with grasshoppers?
By growing La Nuée in the laboratory
The Cloud, the story of a mutation, is itself the result of an experience. “I was part of the first SoFilm residences 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 there, Acide, which did very well and 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 world 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.
By rewriting without wanting to copy the Americans
Without being credited to the screenplay, Philippot makes a few changes to it, respecting the initial structure. “But I shouldn’t be mistaken about my feelings. For example, I arrived asking myself the question of the number of grasshoppers. In the script, there were hundreds of thousands of insects, loose in a dome… And I was given about 5,000 grasshoppers, I had to make do with them. (Laughs.) I wondered how we could transcribe that. This is the difference, the trigger: 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, we had to show how she suffered from it on a daily basis. Consequently, it was necessary to reinvent the space where Virginie exercises. 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 we fuck under water! It was necessary to get on 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 this took us away from an American genre model. Anyway, how could we stick to the Americans when we shoot near Agen, in the Lot-et-Garonne?“
By assuming a political statement
“I really wanted to give Virginie the role of last bastion: she has no right to fail, both as a business leader and a stay-at-home mother.“, says the filmmaker. “She’s not a farmer’s daughter. She uses a breeding method she got online via South America…“The film’s political message is clear: the self-entrepreneurial mindset eats us to blood.”Today, you are no longer an employee, you are self-employed, you charge for your work. Around the world. Uber, Amazon… It’s become a state of mind.”
respecting the insects
Aside from Suliane Brahim and her inhabited performance, the mutant grasshoppers are the real heroines of the film. The challenge in turning them into ferocious cannibals was not to turn them into monsters. “We had about 4,000 grasshoppers in cycle. They had a lifespan of fifteen days: the dead grasshoppers were frozen to be used later for the scenes where they devour each other. Our animal artist, Pascal Trévi, was brilliant (he also worked on Petit Paysan). The only ones made are in resin, for the close-ups of the mutations, the work of Pierre-Olivier Persin. There are no animatronics: for the scenes where the grasshoppers eat each other, we filmed the real ones who eat banana residues on the dead ones. 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 mean. In a group, it makes a strange impression: they make a crazy noise and stink of wet dog… But it’s 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
Severe and his cannibal veterinarian, Little Peasant 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 at the front, on the front line. They feed us. With Little Peasant Or The Cloudwe touch the heart of our way of being, of the issue of the resources of yesterday and tomorrow“, insists the young director who considers our farmers as heroes – of cinema and everyday life. “When I see a guy alone on his tractor in the Beauce, facing miles of terrain, I think 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 name the culprits or the victims, we’re all in the same shit.”
Just Philippot: “Acide is a film about the end of the month and the end of the world”