‘Transporter’ launches new talent

Film franchise springboards French directors

For a film series about an often silent but deadly chauffeur, EuropaCorp’s “Transporter” trilogy might seem an unlikely breeding ground for new talent.

The action-packed franchise has served as the springboard for some of France’s most talented young helmers, including Louis Leterrier, Pierre Morel and Olivier Megaton.

Take Morel. The then-aspiring director’s first big break came when he served as cinematographer on the first “Transporter” film in 2002. He worked again as a d.p. on the second pic before making his directorial debut with “Banlieue 13,” itself another EuropaCorp pic.

Morel’s recent success directing “Taken” has seen him climb to the top of Hollywood’s in-demand list. Paramount Pictures has now acquired an untitled Tokyo-set thriller written by Frank Baldwin as a directing vehicle for the Gallic helmer.

None of that would have been possible without the opportunity offered by working on the “Transporter” films.

Similarly, Leterrier moved on from directing the second instalment in the trilogy, in what was only his sophomore feature, to being tapped by Marvel to make its recent version of “The Incredible Hulk.” Leterrier is currently in London lensing Warner Bros.’ “Clash of the Titans.” 

The moves are indicative of Luc Besson and Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s belief in new talent and has helped to create close ties between the new generation of French filmmakers.

“I was definitely a beginner at the time of the first ‘Transporter’ film,” Morel says. “It was the beginning of everything for me, and it was an amazing opportunity to work on something which was bigger than the typical French film. These films really were like workshops for us. The energy on the sets was great and it was a really collaborative process.”

Ironically, the success these French helmers are having on the back of the “Transporter” series is making it harder for Besson and Le Pogam to keep hold of them for their own EuropaCorp projects. Nonetheless, both are gracious about the situation.

“We’re very happy to see Louis now working on studio films,” Besson says. “It’s an enriching experience for him.”

“One of the benefits of a company like EuropaCorp is that we have the capacity to discover talent and educate them on films like these,” Le Pogam adds. “It becomes like a film school for them. The main problem we have is keeping them afterward. We have so many agents calling us to take them out of our system. The good thing, though, is that when they leave to work in Hollywood, it allows us bring even more new talent to work on the future films.”

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