Over the past 12 months, Paris-based sales agent WTFilms has produced two features: “Perpetrator,” by Jennifer Reeder (“Knives and Skin”), which will world premiere in the Panorama section at Berlin Film Festival, and Xavier Gens’ thriller “Farang,” which is co-financed and repped by Studiocanal.
“Perpetrator,” starring Kiah McKirnan (“Mare of Easttown”) and Alicia Silverstone, is about an impulsive teenage girl living in a town where young women are being abducted. It is produced by WTFilms’ topper Gregory Chambet, and Derek Bishé for Divide/Conquer.
In December, Shudder, AMC Networks’ horror/thriller streaming service, acquired U.S. rights.
Reeder calls it “dark but feminine, a nuanced noir, a grrrl power take on modern horror.” Chambet says there is strong audience interest in feminine horror films, with powerful female leads and highlights the performances of Alicia Silverstone as Aunt Hildie and Kiah McKirnan as wild child Jonny, who gains shape-shifting powers when she turns 18.
“We fully developed and produced ‘Perpetrator’ in house, and we’re really excited by its world premiere at Berlin,” he says. “From now on, we aim to have at least one in-house production a year, which we can either sell ourselves or have sold by another company.”
WTFilms has moved into production to leverage its vertical expertise – from script development through to sales – but above all to ensure access to quality projects.
“Streamers are developing their own projects and increasingly working directly with producers and buying less from international sales agents,” Chambet says.
Access to strong English-language titles is another key reason for the move. “We always try to have a balanced lineup, including English-language titles,” he says, citing the example of “American Carnage” by Diego Hallivis, starring Jenna Ortega. “The market has been changing so much that it’s much more difficult these days for sales agent to board English-language films. So definitely that’s also why production is important for us – to guarantee access to strong titles.”
“Farang,” set in Thailand, is about an ex-con, professional boxer, whose past catches up with him. The pic is produced by WTFilms’ Dimitri Stephanides and Same Player’s Vincent Roget. Studiocanal has sold the pic to the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and Europe.
During the Unifrance Rendez-Vous With French Cinema, WTFilms will organize market premieres for five films: Hugo Thomas’ teen drama “Juniors,” Romain Quirot’s sophomore feature “Apaches: Gang of Paris,” which will be released in France in February, Locarno fest player “Stella in Love,” by Sylvie Verheyde, contemporary western “White Paradise,” by Guillame Renusson, and Jerôme Dassier’s thriller “Let Her Kill You,” starring Asia Argento.
“Juniors” is a teen comedy about two kids who invent a fake illness to escape from their boredom, but get into trouble. Chambet says the film is in the vein of Riad Sattouf’s 2009 pic “Les beaux gosses” (“The French Kissers”), adding that it’s important to have films that appeal to younger audiences, who have been quicker to return to cinemas, post-pandemic.
“White Paradise” has just been released in France by Ad Vitam. “This is a perfect example of a project that appeals to audiences at present,” he suggests. “It’s a high quality production, starring Zar Amir Ebrahimi, who won best actress at Cannes. At first it looks like a traditional French drama: it’s a gripping contemporary tale about migrants, that captures the Zeitgeist. But above all, it’s an action-survival thriller with top-notch actors, which broadens its appeal to younger audiences.”
WTFilms is looking for genre movies with innovative directors and strong concepts.
“Apaches” will have its market premiere at the Unifrance Rendez-Vous. It is a revenge movie set in early 20th century Paris, when rival gangs were wreaking havoc.
“The director has really made a perfect blend between a period story and a modern style,” says Chambet. “It has a very modern feel, in terms of the music, neon lights, street clothes, and revolves around a powerful female revenge story.”
He is also very pleased with “Stella in Love,” which he says features a “great recreation of Paris in the 1980s – the epic era of Parisian nightclubs.”
In order to reinforce the company’s production muscle, Chambet is in negotiation with other sales agents to handle joint sales on ambitious projects and says that he will announce two major projects in Cannes this year.
WTFilms previously agreed a joint sales deal with Wild Bunch in 2020 for Quentin Dupieux’s comedy “Mandibles,” which sold to multiple territories including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux, Scandinavia and Brazil.
“The big ambition for this year is to do fewer but bigger movies and take bigger risks,” concludes Chambet. “That’s also one of the key market trends. Unfortunately, lower budget movies are much harder to sell these days.”