Fred Cavaye has no problem being adapted -- if not adopted -- by Hollywood. In fact, he's thrilled.
"For me it's very flattering to have someone like Paul Haggis do a remake of my movie," Cavaye says through an interpreter during a telephone interview. "I'm a young filmmaker. That was my first film."
Cavaye is talking about Pour Elle, his 2008 directorial debut, which Hollywood bought and remade as 2010's The Next Three Days. The film was directed by the Oscar-winning Haggis and starred Oscar winner Russell Crowe.
"I had this screenplay that I wrote in my little apartment, that I finally got to make -- and two years later, it's being done in Hollywood by Paul Haggis with stars like Russell Crowe," Cavaye recalls. "It was like science-fiction to see Russell Crowe playing a character I had imagined."
Cavaye may have a similar experience shortly: His second film, Point Blank, currently in limited release, is the subject of Hollywood-remake discussions -- something with which Cavaye is perfectly fine.
"It's unique to see my story told by someone else," he says. "In Next Three Days, he had scenes I wish I'd imagined myself. Now there's the possibility of this film being remade."
Point Blank, the story of a nurse's aide forced to kidnap a hospital patient and outwit a group of corrupt cops in order to save his wife's life, allowed Cavaye to expand upon the kind of story he wanted to tell. With Pour Elle, in which an ordinary man had to figure out how to break his wife out of prison, Cavaye's challenge was to create a plot that was plausible yet suspenseful: "It was a film where, for the last half-hour, people were holding their breath because it was so tense and gripping. What I decided with the next one was that I wanted an entire film that would be like that."
In Point Blank, Samuel (Gilles Lellouche) is a nurse's aide whose wife is kidnapped; his only instruction is to spring a hospital patient -- a safecracker named Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem), who has been hit by a motorcycle -- and bring him to exchange for his wife. Instead, Samuel finds himself in the center of a professional murder gone wrong, with only the shifty Sartet as an ally.
The film took Cavaye and his crew all over Paris, including down into the tunnels of the Paris Metro: "We had to negotiate with the authorities because they were afraid people would get bad ideas, watching our film," he says.
Funds were tight, so Cavaye had to use imagination to create a scene of a simultaneous massive crime spree, meant to divert the cops' attention from Samuel and Sartet. Cavaye showed the whole thing on a massive wall of security camera monitors in a police precinct house, thus minimizing the actual production value required to stage dozens of violent crimes.
"We had to work as quickly as possible -- with a maximum of ingenuity," he says. "That scene meant I didn't have to find all those locations and yet I could still suggest all of this action. And I essentially shot it all in one room. It was minimal expense because we were able to think outside the box."
Meanwhile, Cavaye is planning his next film: "Another thriller, set in a police milieu." And he's in discussions about an American remake of Point Blank.
"I'll be interested to see how it turns out," he says, then laughs a little. "Here I am, a French filmmaker, whose work is influenced by American films. And I'm being approached to remake my French film by a Hollywood studio. It really brings things full circle."
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