What was your film's starting point?
My producer, Rita Dagher, told me one day about this scenario some English producers were pitching. They were looking for a French production partner for a film about addiction, prison and boxing. The topic centred around a strong character and a true story set in Thailand. She forwarded me the script, which was in fact the first adaptation of Billy Moore's book. The story had something very intense about it. I asked to read the autobiography and discovered a very authentic story, in the first person, of a man retracing his journey, up to the moment he is freed from prison.
What appealed to you in his story?
His drug addiction, his resilience - everything he talked about was amazing. Because my cinematic style is very realistic, I thought it was a great opportunity to tell that story with a mix of a traditional account and documentary. There was certainly fascinating subject material to work with. It posed a real challenge for me, because a lot of films have already been made on that subject.
What did you do to make your film stand out?
I chose a cast made up of ex-boxers who had served time in prison, to achieve a realistic subject matter. It gives the film its own identity, well away from clichés. So in terms of reference points I had Billy Moore, who I often referred to, but I also had those prisoners and those boxers, who brought their own way of being, down to the way they moved. Their bodies didn't lie. It would have taken too long for an actor to pick up those details.