III. Hate: "Three jerks with a piece."

Finally, why is Hate in black & white?

I did want the movie to be in black & white, but for economic reasons it was shot in color. Christophe said to me that for a b&w movie we would get 4 million francs ($600k). For a color feature we could get 15 million ($2m). The deal was that if the movie went ok we would let it in b&w, else we would issue the color version.

Do you think black & white is under-used in cinema?

Black & white is beautiful, especially when you don't have money. It hides many miserable tricks. If you cannot have a "Darius Khondji" cinematography (5), you shoot your movie in black & white and it turns out "Khondji" black & white. Nevertheless color is better.

Was shooting easier than on Métisse?

There were more risks because there was more money in it. Much more pressure.

Were there problems with the locations and the social context?

We worked a lot with the guys whose place we were to use so that they understand exactly what we wanted to do and so that we won't get thrown out after two days of shooting. We rent a flat on the spot with the actors two months before shooting began. We slept there, spoke with the guys living there. It all went very smoothly during shooting, even if it was always 'borderline'. We were thrown stones but they were kids playing. However if the gaffer would blow his stack and slap a kid we could be thrown out right away. We never knew, in fact, if we could shoot on the following day. For example, we were to shoot one Monday... I was in Paris on Sunday and just as I was getting out of a cinema an inhabitant called me to say there was a riot where we planned to shoot the following day.

Technically, you had a problem with the flying cam (6). How did it occur?

There was too much wind and the guys could not control the machine. We tried three times, we were being insulted, but we went through it.

How long did it take to carry out the superb sequence shot where you cross the city with a steadycam?

Not long. It takes between half-day and a day. Afterwards, these are the actors who must adapt to this very precise mechanics.

Why don't you have a more significant role in Hate?

Because the only role that I could play was that of Vincent and I preferred that it was him who did it. I also preferred to be more concentrated on the mise-en-scène.

How did you make the famous scene with the bottle crushing on Earth?

First we planned to have a passage of C.R.S [riot police] in front of the poster. Right after we would throw the molotov and the poster would burst on fire. But that would have cost too much dough, so we put the poster on the ground, poured gas on it and then drop the bottle from 5-6 meters up.

And the Eiffel Tower that dies out?

There was a stopwatch to know how long there remained, but it did not die out when we wanted. In fact, after the actors had left off-camera, we waited 40 more seconds before the tower does die out. On the screen we discreetly cut in the black to shorten.

When did you realize Hate had become a sensation?

In the end... When all the mess was over. A few months later, I realized that what had occurred was quite incredible. But all that, that was more significant for people than for me. That does not interest me too much and it's why I was taken in sometimes. I did not know the system.

You felt that the film was slightly slipping from you?

Not from me, but a lot of people did misunderstood it...

Consequently it could have slipped from you...

As for me I knew what I did. I tried to phrase it to people, but people did not listen. Especially journalists. It is not that it slipped from me, it is that it was badly understood.

And what about your puppet on the TV show 'Spitting Image'?

It was not very well made. I think they had taken an old one because it's so much expensive to do a new one... I was really astonished to see my puppet. I thought that they would do no good with it. I thought it was just a transient craze, I was the freak-of-the-month then it would be over. But it seems to me that they thought I was going to play the game and become a starlet.

What about Jean-François Richet's reaction (director of Documentaries and features on the life in da 'hood)?

What did he say?

That Hate, it was science fiction...

I had a discussion after with Jean-François... They all hit the ceiling. I had about fifty buddies from the suburbs and when Hate was released I was insulted. Finally I ended up with only 5 true friends.

Was it the first time you ever worked on AVID (virtual editing station)?

Yes. It is grand. It is the same jump forward as switching from handwriting to word processing.

Is Hate the movie you are the most proud of?

No, the one I am really proud is Assassin(s)...

Even now? Though in the interview you made with Jan Kounen for Premiere, you slaughtered it...

Yes, it's a movie with its flaws, but the fact is I am very proud to have made it. It is easier to make Hate than Assassin(s).

What is meaning of the scene with the grandfather stepping out the toilets in Hate?

It was to say that there were people with deeper problems... It is necessary to match these things. It's better than having an old little man say the characters: "It is no good Boys, thou shalt not do that... ". It is a story which really occurred to this old little man. He meets these three jerks with a piece and he pulls them down for a short dip in their shit...

How did Hate do in Europe?

Hate did very well in the whole world and was very well received...

Were the reactions any different?

The reactions were much less 'epidermal' than in France.

Did you notice a different reception from critics?

They don't care about the hype or about who's the director. They do not know me so they watch more of the movie. I had more problems with Assassin(s).

How did you convince Vincent Lindon to make a cameo?

Vincent is a kind of an insane compulsive workaholic. At the time he wanted to work on every movie. He had invited me so as to get the role of Vince. I said to him that it was not possible because he was too old and whatever it was not ok. On the other hand I wrote him a bit part.

Had he seen Métisse?

He sees everything... He is really into it all.

Should we consider that the scene in the theatre in Hate is an embryo of the subject matter of Assassin(s)?

Yes, you can say so...

How did you chose the archive footage?

There was Dirty Harry, Predator... In fact, what happens is the character goes from screen to screen and each time there are violent movies. It finishes with a cartoon and Vince shoots the screen. The small kid next seat imitates his gesture. That's a way to say children imitate adults.