Wikinews interviews Eric Saussine, director of the James Bond fan film Shamelady
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The James Bond film series is one of the most popular and successful, having grossed over US$4 billion worldwide. The suave, sophisticated secret agent has secured his place in popular culture as the definitive action hero that has appeared in twenty-three films between 1954 and 2006.
Daniel Craig was announced as the seventh actor to portray 007 in late 2005, making his debut in the 2006 smash hit Casino Royale. While fans await Craig's second outing in Quantum of Solace, due later this year, they have been able to watch Shamelady, a fan film made by the French film production company Constellation Studios.
Shamelady is a tribute to Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels on which many of the films are based, and EON Productions, the makers of the official 007 films. The film was first released in 2007 and runs just under an hour long. It can be downloaded from Constellation's website or viewed on YouTube.
Legally, the filmmakers cannot profit from Shamelady, but they didn't make it for the money, rather the thrill of creating an original Bond film. The plot is fairly simple, and reminiscent of Casino Royale. Bond is sent to a casino to nab a vicious crime lord, but gets betrayed by a fellow agent in the process. Viewer reaction to the film was positive for the most part, and Constellation Studios has now planned a sequel to Shamelady, which director Eric Saussine speaks of in the interview below.
((Wikinews (Joseph Ford))) Although having made several other movies, Constellation Studios is best known for the acclaimed James Bond fan film Shamelady. Tell us about it.
- Eric Saussine: Shamelady attempts to be a true James Bond adventure, except in length. Our 007 lasts 54 minutes. The story takes place in Iraq, England and France. James Bond is sent to the south of France to buy information about a secret organization that terrorizes Great Britain. During the operation, a couple of killers put a deadly stop to the exchange. Bond escapes, whereas Mangin - who provided the information - is killed. For MI6, it's vivid evidence that S.P.E.C.T.R.E. - the criminal organization to which James Bond was formerly opposed - is back. From this point, Bond goes to the casino of Luc-sur-Mer, Normandy, in search of Descarpes who is suspected of being the number 2 of the organization. Bond challenges Descarpes at the roulette table and seduces Anna Raykova, a mysterious Russian woman working for his adversary. Our favorite spy escapes several murder attempts but, in a nod to Casino Royale, he soon realizes that he is being betrayed. Anyway, the bad guy dies in the end! Some things are eternal. Shamelady is a tribute to the men at the origin of the myth: original author Ian Fleming and James Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli.
((WN (Joseph Ford))) Why did you make this film? Where did the inspiration for Shamelady come from?
- Eric Saussine: In 1953, Ian Fleming created James Bond and therefore the myth we all know. In 2003, for the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of Ian Fleming's hero, I thought that it was time to pay tribute to this literary and cinema myth . In September 2004, I called his friend Pierre Rodiac, a former president a French James Bond fan club. I talked to him about my idea to adapt Casino Royale, the only Ian Fleming James Bond novel that was not seriously adapted by Eon, holder of the movie rights. Pierre was excited by the project and he started writing a synopsis. We worked alternatively on it. It gave way to a script which I wrote and Pierre corrected, that was a faithful adaptation of the novel, with all the trademarks of the movie franchise. Then I immediately started the search for actors and locations.
- On February 3, 2005, Eon Productions announced that Martin Campbell would direct the 21st film of the series. The title was... Casino Royale!
- I was happy because I had always wanted to see that. I went back to work on my project. I decided to preserve the general plot, change the names of the villains, the bad guy's plan, a few scenes and re-introduced a well known terrorist organization and its chief from the Bond films and novels : S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and Ernst Stavro Blofeld. I wrote a new script in a couple of months and found its title : Shamelady. Pre-production started in 2004. Filming started in 2005 and went on in 2006. Post-production took place in 2007 and the release date was December 11, 2007.
((WN (Joseph Ford))) Last summer, you announced that Constellation Studios is at work on another Bond film, Shatterhand. Tell us about it.
- Eric Saussine: Well, the team was so happy to do Shamelady. At the end of this movie we were tired but response from the team members themselves that the first of them, Serge Rotelli (Bond) asked that we do another one. Of course I had many ideas going wild in many directions in my mind. So following that wave of enthusiasm I decided to renew the experience and launched the production of a new James Bond 007 adventure. This time, the film will be our way to celebrate Ian Fleming's hundredth birthday.
- The plot will stay close to Fleming's literary works and will be derived from the short story Octopussy, the last third of the novel You Only Live Twice, hence the title, Shatterhand, which is Blofeld's pseudonym in that adventure. The new film also includes an original ski chase in the pre-credit sequence and an explosive action finale. Some shots were done for real in Japan. We will probably miss the Fleming centenary in 2008 and will probably release it one year later.
((WN (Joseph Ford))) Is this the beginning of a series of non-profit fan films? After Shatterhand, can we expect to see more Bond films from you?
- Eric Saussine: It was never seen as a series, but when we released Shamelady, Shatterhand's production was already half-way, and the people at the premiere kept saying to me that they wanted to participate and that I should do a trilogy. Nothing's worth a trilogy. So given the extraordinary willingness of some people we are thinking about one final chapter. Of course my ever-boiling mind has some idea ready. I can tell you that part of a final chapter could take place in Switzerland and that we might see Piz Gloria again for a few seconds. Other than that I am still in the middle of Shatterhand so all this stuff about a third movie is just wishful thinking.
((WN (Joseph Ford))) Do you have any advice for amateur filmmakers reading this?
- Eric Saussine: Never, ever abandon your project. Too many projects fail or disappear because people don't have the will to go til the end of their ideas and realize that it is much more complicated than they thought it would be and then they drop it. It is a pity. Another advice : steal from the best i.e. the Bond movies for Bond productions, Spielberg, Kubrick and all the others for all movies. Mozart stole from Haydn and transcended him. Why not YOU?