PARIS– Long overshadowed by her famed comedian father, Guy Bedos, and brother, Nicolas Bedos, the 30-something spunky woman broke through as a screenwriter with “La Famille Belier,” the family dramedy which turned out to be 2015’s highest-grossing French-language film. Bedos is now back as a co-screenwriter and lead actress of Denis Imbert’s (“Platane”) “Vicky Banjo,” a coming-of-age film inspired by her life. Bedos entered the art world through the music scene with the band Vicky Banjo which she created with Olivier de Closmadeuc (aka Banjo), who created the original score of the movie. Bedos, meanwhile, penned the lyrics of the songs and performed them with de Closmadeuc. In the film, Bedos plays Victoire, the youngest in the illustrious Bonh
omme family. Always perceived as the quiet little one, Victoire breaks free from her bourgeois upbringing after she meets a singer in a bar and launches a music duo. From that point on, she becomes Vicky, a fearless young woman who embraces a new world of partying, drinking and sex without strings attached. Pic is produced by LGM Cinema, while Gaumont, the French major behind “Intouchables,” is co-producing and handling international sales.
Variety: “La Famille Belier” was greatly inspired by your life, is “Vicky Banjo” also semi-autobiographical?
Victoria Bedos: It’s probably the same mix of fiction and autobiography than in “Frances A.” It was important for me to write it with a director to make sure the story wouldn’t get too personal, have the necessary distance. My encounter with Denis Imbert was the starting point of this journey. I was introduced to him years ago when I was working on “La Famille Belier” and we hit it off. At the time we were supposed to direct “La Famille Belier” together and for various reasons we didn’t get a chance to do it. But we got along so well that we started brainstorming ideas for another movie. We spent days and weeks talking about our lives, what we liked and disliked in order to trigger some inspiration for a script; and one day suddenly he said “I want to make a film about you!” At first I thought he was insane. But here we are today!
How would you describe “Vicky Banjo”?
Like “La Famille Belier,” I’d say that “Vicky Banjo” is a coming-of-age tale where family plays a central part. In this film, Victoire has a unique relationship with her mother with whom she forms a duo, while her father and brother form another clan. In order to express herself with more freedom, Victoire finds an avatar, Vicky, and starts rebelling against everything that’s been taught to her: She party hard and sleeps around; it’s the path she’s chosen to grow from the little girl and emerge as a full-blown liberated woman. She’s basically “Fuck the system.”
Denis Imbert is best known as a TV director who’s notably co-directed the series “Platane,” and you had never starred in a film. So how challenging was it to find a producer based on your package?
We were not expecting much but we got extremely lucky. I had a lunch with Cyril Colbeau-Justin (the co-founder of LGM Cinema) and after talking about the project for 10 minutes and singing one Vicky Banjo song, he simply said “Where is the contract?” Working with LGM which is one of France’s biggest production company was frankly beyond our expectations. Since then it’s been amazing: Gaumont came on board and now we have Sony producing a Vicky Banjo album. The crazy thing is that it’s not just the original score of the film, it’s an actual Vicky Banjo album with some original songs that are not even in the film.
So when is Sony going to release the album?
Sony is going to release it ahead of the release and we’re going to do a massive tour of France when the movie comes out, and we’ll do surprise concerts across the country. It’s super exciting.
Where would you say you pull your inspiration from besides your own life experiences?
I wouldn’t say I have a huge American movie culture but I loved the 90’s movies such as “Big” with Tom Hanks, as well musicals like “All That Jazz” and “Amadeus.” I love the glitz and show in movies. And for me, it all started with the scene, whether in theater or in music. I’m a sucker for popular French music and artists like Michel Sardou. As for literature, I like Guy de Maupassant for the candor of his tone and his amused outlook on the French bourgeoisie.
How do you explain that your films – “La Famille Belier” and “Vicky Banjo” — can appeal to such a broad audience well beyond Parisians?
Even though I was raised in a very Parisian family I spent a lot of time in the Limousin (a small French town) riding horses. I’m not a Parisian at heart, I have very middlebrow tastes.
So far you’ve made two movies that were very personal. Are you now looking to make different kinds of films?
For me writing is therapeutical. These two experiences somewhat helped me cure personal heartaches or mild neurosis that I had in me since childhood. It was a rite of passage. Today, although I’m still eager to write my own movies with my pal Denis, I definitely want to explore different emotions and stories. For instance we’re currently writing a romantic comedy for LGM Cinema and an ensemble comedy based on an Australian movie which Marc Dujardin is producing.
Are you looking to pursue your acting career after making your debut in “Vicky Banjo”?
Yes, I loved acting in “Vicky Banjo.” I had always thought I was more of a stage actor but I found it so immensely liberating to play this part. Next up I’ll star in the romantic comedy we’re writing, and will have a small role in the other movie.
So as an actress we can say you are on the market?
Yes you can say that!