Interview – Franck Khalfoun

Interview – Franck Khalfoun

Franck-KhalfounAAFilmmaking is an art form that each creator approaches in a different way. However one view the craft, chances are they are inspired to convey some kind of message, whether it be social, comical, frightening, romantic, or all of the above. For French actor/director Franck Khalfoun bringing a concept to the big screen is a bold part of his signature style, as seen in his films such as, 2007’s P2 and his 2012 edition of Maniac. Now unleashing his newest mind-twisting film i-Lived in 2015, Khalfoun looks to captivate audiences once more. Recently we sat down with the multi-talented Khalfoun for a closer look at the story behind his filmmaking, his inspirations, his personal favorite films, and much more. – You have been involved in film as an actor and a director for some time now, first tell us, what inspired you to get involved in film?

Franck Khalfoun – I started on the stage and I felt a little bit confined. I bought an old Bell & Howell 16mm camera, some editing equipment, I then I started recording parts of the plays I was doing on stage on film ,and mixing both. I went from theater to theater and film mixed together, then I moved on to learn production and the business. I think I was more creative in those times on stage and the times I was mixing media. The film industry is a lot more political than what I was looking forward to, but it is still very gratifying when you get to make a film. I am still in it, I am still fighting to be in it.

Dimension Films – Excellent and you have appeared in some really quality Horror films including 2003’s High Tension and 2010’s Piranha.  You also have directed some excellent films including P2 in 2007, Maniac in 2012, and the recently released, i-Livedi-Lived is quite entertaining. What inspired the idea for the film?

Franck Khalfoun – I had an idea, again trying to fund bigger movies through the studio system, and I hadn’t done anything in a while. I had always had this idea of trying to do something that was a little bit of found footage and sort of motivated by consumer cameras, this whole world of the internet. I was trying to find a sort of entertaining story to do in that world. I looked through a bunch of camera apps and I realized how involved I was in social media, trying to look at what other people were doing, and everything.

I realized how apps were always asking us to sign incredibly long contracts. Like everyone, I accepted every time, without really reading. It reminded me of Faust and signing away your soul. All this controversy about social media, the loss of privacy, and giving away a piece of yourself. It all kind of just meshed together for me and I thought how interesting it would it be if the devil himself created an app to make people sign their souls away, forcing them into these horrific situation, and took control of their lives. Sometimes it feels that way.  I watch kids on social media on their phone. It is as if they live in them now, they have lost the outside world, are completely disconnected, and live through this virtual world. It is the next phase to me, and it seemed like a great little warning. At the same time, it is a fun little story that I could do around apps with a twist of the classic Faust story. –Yes, it marries those to ideas together really well and it really translates what we are dealing with now in modern society.

Franck Khalfoun –I felt that way certainly, and I think it is fun. I think one of the lines in the film is, “You didn’t sell your soul over the iPhone,” and I think that is pretty funny. We are always doing it, you can asked anybody. If I asked a million people who reads the user agreement, the only people that have said they do are the lawyers. Nobody else reads them (laughs).

Still from I-Lived – It is really true. Now the main character in the film Josh, played by Jeremiah Watkins, faces a lot of difficult situations in the film as we just spoke about. Through it all, he is a sympathetic character, regardless of the decisions he makes. Was that important to you as the director to make him the likable character that he was?

Franck Khalfoun – Absolutely, he is sort of a victim in this. He has dreams and aspirations like all of us. I think he is relatable, especially with today’s generation. They are all out of college, trying to find work, they all have these high aspirations about what they are going to do with their lives, and its not really panning out. The economy is different, the world is different, and everything you try to do is saturated with people doing it. Therefore, he is a little disillusioned by all that, yet he is trying to make the best of his life. He is sympathetic, because you know he is every guy.

Jeremiah Watkins was great in it. He had not done anything prior to this. He is a stand-up comic who I saw a couple of times and he was hilarious. He has a great face and he is a very great physical sort of actor. I knew people would like him, and if anything, feel sorry for him. That itswhat we needed for the movie. We needed everyone to fall into it. We needed people to be enticed by him and follow him, so they could be immersed in his story.

Still from I-Lived
Still from I-Lived – It certainly did work, and Jeremiah did a great job as Josh. He sold the character very well, he was really believable, and he seems like a really colorful personality. What was it like working with him?

Franck Khalfoun – He is very colorful, and like I said, he is a physical comic. He had to tone down a lot. He brings a lot as an actors. I think its great if you get an actor who does more than you ask.

You always want a creative actor who can bring things to the table, as opposed to me pushing somebody. You are talking about a stage guy, and stage guys tend to be a little more grand with their gestures and expressions. It was really about settling him down and making him more a normal person. That was sort of a challenge, and I think he learned a great deal. He is a star in the making. I think he is going to do really well, and I glad that he performed as well as he did. – He sure does look to have a bright future. i-Lived is certainly a very different film than 2012’s Maniac. Though, there are some slight similarities in the fact that the film revolve around one central character. Did you approach this project a little different than Maniac?

Franck Khalfoun – I mean it is a little different, and this is not as seedy and dark as Maniac. Maniac has a real plunge into hell for this guy who was really a horrific character. Josh isn’t, Josh is us, and he is being sucked into this crazy internet  and virtual world which he thinks is there to help him. Therefore, they are very different characters. I also think the message here is way bigger than in Maniac. Maniac was sort of an in-depth look at a particular type of person. i-Lived is more about society and the idea that we all feel we need this technology to better our lives. I think that it is a much wider statement for a much wider audience than Maniac. Even though the film is a little smaller obviously, and not as stylish, it has a bigger message I feel, and in that it, connects to more people.  I think also that the idea that i-Lived wasn’t as gruesome as Maniac is for that purpose. I want as many people as possible to connect with it.

XLrator Media – Agree completely. Well i-Lived will certainly be an interesting film for movie fans to indulge in. As for Maniac, many Horror fans would agree it is perhaps one of the best remakes of the last decade.

Franck Khalfoun – Thank you, I have seen both of them a lot (laughs). I like my version and I like the old version. They are for different generations and different times. I think it captures the essence of the original film. I got a licking when it announced I was doing that movie, but I always feel that genre audiences love movies in general. If you make a good movie they are going to appreciate it and not just shit on it because it is a remake. If it is a well-made movie then it will stand on its own and people will appreciate it.

Summit Entertainment
Summit Entertainment
IFC Midnight
IFC Midnight – Very well said. I had one last question and that is if you are a fan of Horror films, what are some of your particular favorite Horror films?

Franck Khalfoun – I am with the classics. My favorite movie is Psycho (1960). When I saw that it was late at night, I turned it on, I had no idea what I was watching, and it scared the shit out of me. I shouldn’t have been watching it. I didn’t know it was possible for someone to be like that.

That is was what drew me later on in life into making these kind of movies. I felt like I could sort of jump into this genre. As I said earlier, I come from the theater, and that was classics and literature, so it was not really genre related. I always view Psycho as a base. Growing up for me A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) was terrifying movie, The Shining (1980) is  my all-time probably favorite in the genre. I am more sort of a classics film Horror guy. I am not a huge fan of gore, but I am a big fan of psychologically disturbed human beings. I think a crazy normal looking next door neighbor is scarier than a monstrous looking person such as an ogre or a ghost. I am a classic film guy.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

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