»Fresh Out of School« is a collection of 13 short animated films, 3 minutes each, which aims to mix in a free, poetic form, 13 poems from a French author to the visual world of 13 young directors just out of French animation schools.
Teaser de Tant Mieux Prod 2017
Co-produced and broadcasted on France Télévisions, these short films give the young generation of French filmmakers a great opportunity to express their art and present a first finished work to the public and professionals. Each director picks a poem to adapt in a graphic and narrative way. According to their creative style and desires they tell a story inspired by the words of the Poet. A wide range of techniques is the signature of this collection, which includes traditional 2D animation, stop-motion, cut-out, digital 2D, sand etc. So far, our collection has explored very diverse universes and different poets: Jacques Prévert, Robert Desnos, Guillaume Apollinaire, Paul Eluard, Claude Roy and Jean Tardieu. This year, for the seventh season, we are adapting Paul Verlaine’s verses and trusting 13 more young directors to enlighten his words, for the children … in only 3 short minutes!
ABOUT ITS GENESE
This project was born at a meeting between Delphine Maury and the granddaughter of Jacques Prévert, Eugénie, who gave to Delphine the opportunity to adapt her grandfather’s words in animation. This wish met Pierre Siracusa’s , as France Télévision Head of Kids Content, to offer poetry to children on TV. With the help of the RECA, the French Network for Animated Schools, the project was submitted to approximately 20 schools. Candidates wishing to apply had to pick a poem among a list of 50, write a director’s letter of intent, and a note with graphic and musical intentions. Two month later, Tant Mieux Prod, Delphine Maury’s production company created for the occasion, received more than a 100 submisssions … and it’s been like that every year since then!
A VERY PECULIAR PROJECT
»Fresh out of school« is quite unique in the French audiovisual landscape because of how it blends animation techniques. Indeed, this form of art can take many forms: traditional animation on paper, digital 2D, stop-motion, cut-out, sand, 3D, painting on glass … This project offers a rare opportunity to promote them on TV. But this uncommon project goes hand in hand with an even more unexpected production calendar. 13 short films with 13 different techniques every year… It feels like an eternal development phase sometimes! It is not possible to industrialize and achieve an economy of scale. And since we follow school calendars instead of public financing schedules, we must start production before having gathered all the necessary funds. The process is risky but always rewarding in the end.
WHO MAKES IT?
Tant Mieux Prod’s team is composed of 5 people working on making »Fresh out of school« possible year after year: Delphine Maury, producer and artistic director, created Tant Mieux Prod in 2012 and was rejoined during season 2 by Emmanuel Ryz, producer as well, who specially helps on all financial and administrative matters. Thomas Malmonte, also a producer, is technical production director on »Fresh out of school«. Marie Debart has for 2 years now been production manager and is the essential link between the studio, the directors and Tant Mieux Prod. Marie-Lou Arnould joined as assistant producer in 2018.
If Tant Mieux Prod’s offices are located in Paris, the studios where the actual fabrication of the collection happens are located in different regions of France every year. For the 6th and 7th seasons, L’Incroyable Studio in Nantes has hosted the directors and their films, but before that, »Fresh out of school« has been made in Paris, Angoulême, Annecy and Lille.
Each year, a supervisor is appointed to be a bridge between the production and the director regarding technical matters. The supervisor is an animation director herself, and moreover has participated in earlier seasons of »Fresh out of school«: our two Marine, Marine Laclotte and Marine Blin, have filled this position with success.
As ›audiovisual‹ speaks for itself, we do need images, but also sound! That is the job of our 4 gifted and multi-instrumentalist musicians: Julien Divisia, Frédéric Marchand, Pablo Pico and Yan Volsy. They come quite early in the process as to really understand the young director’s musical intentions for their short film. They then start composing, together or alone, depending on the project. Tant Mieux Prod also works with a foley artist, Gregory Vincent who handmake every sound in a studio. It is commun for feature films, but quite rare for animated series post-production.
Finally, as it can be quite hard for »Fresh out of school« directors to complete a 3 minutes film by themselves in such a short period of time, they are all allowed to get some back-up at any given moment of the production. Their intervention depends on their techniques and its specificities: for instance, back-ups are usually asked for during the animation phase of digital 2D projects, whereas in puppets and stop-motion, help is required early on with lighting and photography.
HOW AND WHEN IS IT MADE?
»Fresh out of school« follows a very specific and tight schedule each year. In January of February, we publish a call for projects including approximately 40 poems. Directors have a few weeks to send us their application. A first selection of 30 profiles is made and we meet them in person for an oral presentation before Tant Mieux Prod’s team, our brodcasters France Télévisions and a technical consultant, usually end of May. This is how we make the selection of the 13 directors of the season. In August, Tant Mieux Prod and directors go for a one-month writing residence, all dwelling in the Abbey of Fontevraud in the region of Loire, France. At the end of this month, with the help of Delphine Maury and numerous professionals (storyboarders, directors, musicians) they are supposed to leave with a competed scenario and animatic. September and October are dedicated to backgrounds and character designs. They usually start animation in November and December. January and February are dedicated to post-production. Delivery is scheduled for the end of March, during the ›Printemps des Poètes‹ national event (›Spring of Poets‹), just before their broadcast on France Télévisions.
AND AFTER THEIR RELEASE?
We wish for our collections to have a life of their own after their production! Both spectators and medias have manifested a dear interest and enthusiasm for »Fresh out of school«. Films from each seasons have been selected in more than 120 festivals worldwide, 5 seasons have beneficiated of a theatrical release, with more than 2,1 millions tv-spectators (780 000 of which being under the age of 15) … That is why our first 4 seasons are available in a book published by Thierry Magnier editions with DVDs and behind the scenes explanations. They are also available for free on Youtube since we believe the larger the audience, the better. Moreover, our musicians have created a ›cine-concert‹, a wonderful show during which they play live their compositions with the films being screened!
A FEW WORDS ABOUT OUR POETS …
Have you heard of them? If no, here are a few words about each of them …
Jacques Prévert (1900–1977) is a very popular poet, famous for his puns and his playful manners with words. Inspired by surrealism, he uses metaphors and personalization with finesse. His favorite themes are childhood, day-to-day life but also political denunciation.
Robert Desnos (1900–1945) is a self-educated poet. Also a surrealist at his beginnings, quite close of the artistic avant-gardes of his time, he is inspired by the themes of dreams and love. As history followed its well-known course, he became more engaged, in real life as well as in his poems.
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880–1918) is considered as one of the greatest French poets. Heavily influenced by surrealism and cubism, he believes creation must come from sheer inspiration and intuition, not from logic and philosophy. He wrote deeply about World War I, lost love and sins.
Paul Eluard (1895–1952), Dadaist and surrealist as well, known for his actions with the Communist Party, believed in a politically engaged poetry. His work emanates with thoughts about freedom, love and revolution.
Jean Tardieu (1903–1995) was a very productive writer and poet. He tried all genres, but can be described as a lyricist and formalist poet. Attracted by the absurdity of life, he had a very free verse and hid his metaphysic preoccupations with striking humor.
Paul Verlaine (1844–1896) is the archetype of the accursed and damned poet. Quite tortured, he explored his melancholy profoundly and led a full life. He is, among other things, known for his sensibility and his attraction to the impressionist movement.
Tant Mieux Prod is a film production company based in Paris.