Ken Loach: Looking for Eric
Ken Loach is a veteran of the Cannes Film Fest, having shown at least 10 of his films here. Loach won the Palme d'Or in 2006 for “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” and a jury prize in 1993 for “Raining Stones.”
His new film “Looking for Eric,” starring a famous French soccer player who became a legend at Manchester United, is considered to be one of his most mischievous and accessible pictures to date. IFC will release the comedy, which premiered at
French Soccer Star Eric Cantona
Ken Loach: Eric got in touch with the French producer Pascal Caucheteux, and Pascal came to us here at Sixteen Films. Eric was interested in doing a film about his relationship with the fans. He had one particular idea and we agreed to have a go at it. We thought it was all a wind up at first, because Cantona is such a special footballer and a remarkable guy. We scratched around and tried to find an idea we could use. The next thing that happened was that Paul Laverty wrote a character called Eric Bishop and out of that came the idea that Eric Cantona would be this character spiritual guidance.
I only know football as a spectator but to go to a game is very social, you meet the same, quite large group of people and what you have in common is support for the team. It’s nothing to do with work, it’s nothing to do with anything except the game and that wide selection of disparate people.
The game itself is like a gymnasium for your emotions. You experience everything: Hope, joy, sorrow, grief, suspense, anguish. Delirious ecstasy when the goal goes in. It’s all those things but they’re contained in a safe framework that—I can’t say, ‘it doesn’t matter’—but in the end, it is only a game and in the end real life carries on. It’s a huge therapeutic exercise where you have all these emotions but nevertheless they’re within a safe environment.
Cantona as Actor and Producer
Cantona had seen one or two of the films I have done before and we seemed to be on the same wavelength. We all really enjoyed the idea of sending up the public persona of Cantona. He was very mischievous as a player and especially with the hacks (journalists) who wrote the back pages, so we had great fun with that side.
Our collaboration was very simple and very straightforward. We kept it as a surprise for lead actor Steve Evets that Eric was going to be in it. We wanted the surprise to be as real as we could make it. Steve Evets was so knocked out that Cantona was in the same room that it helped launch the whole sequence of scenes with Eric in them.
Shooting the Film
We shot the whole film in sequence. But we did have to smuggle Eric on to set in a blanket to keep it a surprise. That is not an easy thing to do because he is a big man to hide.
Working with Writer Paul Laverty
Paul lives in
Laverty wanted more mischief after the previous “tough” movies.
But even if you do harsh films, the actual process doesn't mean people are walking about with long faces. The key moments can be very serious but you have to keep a sense of levity because there are always long, hard days making a film. The long, hard days are the same whatever kind of film you are making.
But “Riff Raff” and “Raining Stones” had a lot of humor in them. There's always an element of humor in my films.
Working Class as Inspiration
People's comic maturity tends to shine through working people more than people shielded from the harder bits of life. Extreme circumstances make comedy more intense, I think.
We cast the net very wide, as always. The one defining factor was that the actor had to be from
I'm not very good at making first decisions on casting. We probably met six or seven times altogether, doing little pieces of dialogue and scenes, trying to throw things at Steve.
That's really producer Rebecca O'Brien's province. But getting many sources has always been how we have done our films together. It looks a bit comical to have all those people as producers at the beginning rather than one main backer. But it means no one has sufficient power to enforce cuts or changes. It keeps the autonomy to make the film with us.
The audiences in
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