LIKE MANY creatives, Arnaud Ducharne works outside the creative industry to pay his way. He’s currently working for “the city of Paris mapping trees”, to earn money to pay his bills. This employment means he can concentrate on the one thing that really drives him: script-writing.
Arnaud started writing his script more than two years ago. It took him just a few hours to pen its outline, another six months to give it some soul and now, he hopes, just a month more for it to be complete. He’s very nervous about it all; he has become attached to the project and refers to it as a “matter of the heart”.
On top of his bread and butter work for the city of Paris, Arnaud does the odd bit of work in the film industry. He has also worked in graphic design, a profession he studied. He chose this profession because he missed the application date for film school and thought graphic design an option in to where he wanted to be.
After studying, Arnaud moved to Prague where he lived from 2007 to 2010, working in an advertising agency. During this time he slowly started to do some copywriting and art directing. It wasn’t long before he was asked to submit some work for a film project seeking out unknown creatives for grants. It turned out Arnaud’s stop-motion style was exactly what they were after. The result: Le Bal de la Gare (The Ball from the Station).
Arnaud speaks highly of Slovak people and their humour. His new script includes a few Czech people in addition to some Italians. These characters are, however, still French citizens living in Paris. He is working a mix of their quirky humour into a love story with a twist.
The film will be called Des Amants Épanouis. It roughly translates to Lovers Bloom (according to Google Translate); Arnaud explains it as “Some Fulfilled Lovers”.
He has already shown parts of the script to people in the industry. Despite writing, producing and even filling the odd acting role, Arnaud said his talents don’t lie within the producing side.
We go back to Arnaud’s squat. It’s one of four his group “Curry Vavart” have opened since 2007 (Arnaud joined in 2010). He describes the initial process as difficult. Often in uncomfortable positions – always close to be caught out by police or security. Although after negotiations, the group have been able to secure yearly contracts with the owner. The owners of this place are the French Rail Network (Réseau Ferré de France), and their yard backs onto it. Now the RFF have a building that is maintained and renovated, rather then run-down and vandalised. Paris City Hall like what they have done so much, they are offering the group more buildings.
Outside isn’t really used much in winter, but I am told it’s ideal for summer parties. About 30 creatives use the squat as their studio at little to no cost. They host parties (almost on a weekly basis) and those who attend choose to pay as much or as little as they can.
When the squat was first found, it was crammed with all sorts of furniture, which was sold off for money. They have no room left for more creatives and are having to turn people away.
Arnaud shares his space with a couple of friends – a set designer and producer. Originally they wanted to find and use this space to show films for a cinema club; posters from these events line the back wall of their space. Now, Arnaud and a friend have started another club called SEN which means "dream" in Czech and Polish. It's a cinema club which explores the importance of the dream (in a psychoanalytic way) in Slovakian film culture.
The movies are sometimes shown in his studio space, or in the bigger theatre room, where everything, from the seating to screen, has been given to them free from old Parisian cinemas.
Today though, the larger theatre room has been taken over by a contemporary dance group and netting has been constructed to restrict their movements to the floor.
The squat is huge and filled with endless rooms – each utilised to its full potential. There is a room where some of the group has made a library and a large communal kitchen with an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables. The batch I see is not from their personal vegetable patch – which also exists.
It’s pretty cold here today, and they don’t really use the heating a lot. So they have been lucky this winter has been mild, though Arnaud said it’s really nice to work here over summer.
As we are walking out, Arnaud apologies for not being in “fine form” as he is in a lot of pain with his back. Here I was thinking Arnaud was a slightly reserved, mysterious cinematographer and writer. I am now intrigued to see what his “fine form” is!