Daughter of French director Jacques Doillon and editor Noëlle Boisson, Lola Doillon has had a multi-faceted career. She was an actress, a stills photographer, a camera assistant, an editor and an assistant director. She has also worked in casting, notably on Jacques Doillon and Michael Haneke’s films. Her debut feature, “Et toi, t’es sur qui?” (2007), premiered in the Un Certain Regard Competition at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, where it also vied for the Caméra d’Or Award for Best First Feature Film, and was nominated for a César for Best First Feature Film. She worked as AD with Cédric Klapisch on the French hits “L’auberge espagnole” and “Les poupées russes.” Her other credits include her features “Contre toi” (2010), starring Kristin Scott Thomas, and “Le voyage de Fanny” (2016), as well as the popular French series “Call My Agent!” on which she worked again with Klapisch.
Tara Karajica talks to Lola Doillon about her latest project, the “Salade grecque” series, the sequel to Klapisch’s “L’auberge espagnole” trilogy.
How did you get into acting and filmmaking?
Lola Doillon: Oh, it was because of my parents! My father’s a French director and my mother used to be an editor. So, since very young I was at film shoots and when I was a teenager I said: “OK! I will never do that. I will make sure never to do that.” Then, when I was sixteen, my father said: “Do you want a little bit of money? You come and you work during the holidays.” So, this was how I began when I was sixteen years old, working on my father’s shoots. When I was eighteen, I tried different jobs like making short films with some friends. A lot of things. A lot of jobs. I was first AD was Cédric [Klapisch] on L’Auberge espagnole and when I turned thirty, I said: “Let’s try and make a short film.”
How did you get on board Greek Salad?
L.D.: In fact, I co-directed, with Antoine Garceau and Cédric, the first season of Call My Agent!. It was the three of us on the first season, so we knew that we wanted to work together. And, it was a pleasure to that. I was also first AD on Les poupées russes and Antoine was Cédric’s AD on different films, so when we did Call My Agent! we were already friends and I’m living with Cédric, so we knew each other very well and we knew that it was possible. When Cédric said we were going to make Salade grecque, it was obvious that it was going to be the three of us doing it, sharing this experience and writing together. It was super exciting to do all the castings and location scouting together and it was very nice to work as a team.
The series has a thematically different setup than the original film because Europe is a very different place now, more fragile, as opposed to what it was twenty-one years ago. They were cosmopolitan, they were happy, they were mostly white while now everyone is in a big mess, everyone has different ideas and it’s a very less carefree context, less enthusiastic with the idea of Europe…
L.D.: I think that’s right. Twenty years ago, it was really something as you say carefree, light… with the idea that everyone’s going to be together, it’s going to be a wonderful world and everything’s super nice. L’auberge espagnole is really about that. Today, I don’t think Europe is fragile because when it comes to its people, I think it’s strong. Young Europeans, I think, are super strong. During casting, we saw actors and actress from different countries, and we would ask them: “Do you feel European?” to what most of them answered naturally, but we didn’t even think about it. I think it’s because it’s obvious to them today to be Europeans. They don’t need to think about it. They can work and travel around Europe. It’s super easy, and they don’t even think about what came before. So, I think Europe is super strong when it comes to its people, the European people, even with the crisis. That’s why we shot it in Athens, because it’s really a land of crisis. Historically, they had all the crisis. Today, it’s the migrant crisis, the political crisis, the economic crisis… But I think young people are totally aware of all the crisis and they know they have to react to what is happening. It’s not only in Europe, it’s all around the world. If you talk about the environmental crisis, it’s also not only Europe, it’s everywhere today. That’s also why in Salade grecque there are also Syrians because it was not possible to stick only to Europe today.
There are also other themes that are tackled in the series like gender violence among others, not only what we have just discussed.
L.D.: There are many important things to talk about today. Gender was not the main topic. We also touch upon transsexuality. It was super important to talk to people and to talk about everyone and everything, but not just for the sake of putting it in the series and saying: “OK, it’s there.” But they come to Athens for the inheritance. Effectively, there are two things – there’s Athens, where democracy was born, so it provided us with the context to talk about politics and the crisis and then there is the inheritance and not just in terms of their personal inheritance, but what we do with what we inherit from our parents, from our country. It was important to combine all that and say: “I think growing up is also about trying to deal with what we have inherited from our parents, from our country and what that means, for instance, for a French young woman. What does it mean to be French and going home and dealing with what I have inherited from my parents, my family, my country, history, today’s society?
It’s still an ode to student life, to young people living together, to community because this hasn’t changed since the first film.
L.D.: The basis of the story is how you manage to live with others when you come with your different culture. And yes, we need to do that to live together with the problem at the beginning, the migration, different cultures, different countries. How you come with your history, your culture, your social distinction, your baggage of who you are, and then you have to deal with that and live with others and mix everything. And, it’s even bigger in the series because you have different floors now.
Can you talk about the casting process and finding those new and fresh voices of European acting?
L.D.: For Aliocha Schneider, Cédric worked with him on an ad, so we simply thought about him since the beginning. And then, we did tests in a lot of countries. In fact, I think we had six or seven different casting director, including France, Northern Europe and Eastern Europe, so we saw a lot of different people. At the beginning, there were five writers, so they tried to think about characters like: someone’s going to be like that and be Italian or from Finland and when we did the casting, we changed some nationalities because of the actors. Then, it became obvious who was going to be cast and we did callbacks in France.
How was the shoot in Athens?
L.D.: It was a mess! It was great. It was funny because the first time, it was two months before the shooting and we had five days in Athens to meet each other and read the first episodes because we were going to spend five or six months there. It was important to have a meeting with everyone in Athens and the first night, we went to a restaurant and they stuck together all night and it was amazing the way they became a team. The shoot was amazing because of what happened that week. We changed some things in the series to make it stick with the actors. It was like the Tower of Babel. Everyone came with their own language and culture and baggage and we had to lift it all together!
I imagine everybody learned Greek!
L.D.: In fact, everybody learned a little bit of every language!
What is your take on the situation of women in film today? How is it in France today?
L.D.: It’s difficult to talk about it because I’m not a specialist. It’s better than before, but it’s not enough. There are more and more female directors, but until we get to 50-50, it’s not enough.
Do you have a favorite female filmmaker and a favorite film by a female filmmaker?
L.D.: Fishtank by Andrea Arnold. I love it! I also like Dana Idisis who created the Israeli series On the Spectrum.
Do you have anything in the pipeline?
L.D.: A feature film, but it’s still in the works. It’s a bit too soon to talk about it…
Photo credits: Courtesy of Unifrance.