How was the idea for your film born?
Lise: Les Pires kind of picks up where Chasse Royale, our first short, left off, except the latter focuses on the casting itself, where the feature film explores the actual filming process. Both of us got a foot into the film industry through open casting calls, working on films as casting directors and coaches for children, before going on to make Chasse Royale, which draws on our experiences. In the lead-up to Les Pires, we went back to the neighbourhood in Valenciennes after which the short is named, an area that had really inspired us. We wanted to continue juxtaposing two worlds that appear to completely clash: a working-class neighbourhood, and the film industry. But both of these films are first and foremost the embodiment of our shared passion for damaged childhoods, in a nod to the personal experiences we have both had.
What was the atmosphere like on set?
Lise: I remember this permanent sense of urgency. There were all these open casting call children, some very difficult, which meant the dynamic was fragile. But beauty and grace emerged from within this fragility and urgency, too. What I take away from the experience is also the incredible power of the collective: such a young, determined team, ready to pour heart and soul into the film.
An on-set anecdote you can share with us?
Lise: One day, we were filming in this tiny, sweltering caravan. It was a very tricky scene for our teens. Loïc, who plays Jessy, had reached his limit, and ended up losing it, threatening to walk off set. We quietly motioned to the actor working alongside him to continue with his lines. Initially completely closed off, Loïc ended up going with it. He was powered by all this raw emotion, on the brink of implosion, a state that matched that of the character too, and so he said his lines and performed with such staggering talent, we couldn't take our eyes off him. It was a magical moment.
Anything you'd like to share regarding your actors?
Romane: There were so many of them, but just in terms of the four leads, we found these young people through an extensive open casting call that took a year, with the help of our casting director Marlène Serour. We travelled the length and breadth of France's Nord region to find them! What was special here was that we ran a lot of casting calls in socio-educational establishments and homes, where we found a lot of young people with a lot of problems. Timéo and Loïc, we found in homes, for example. We met Melina and Mallory at an open casting call at their school gates. And then there's Angélique, who makes a reappearance several years after Chasse Royale as Ryan's big sister.