Interview with Fadette Drouard: scriptwriter
Originally from Lille, Fadette wrote, together with Grand Corps Malade, the movie “Patients” which earned her a César nomination. A meeting with a film enthusiast.
A few weeks ago, the movie “Le Dindon” came out. A French comedy directed by Jalil Lespert, with Dany Boon, Guillaume Gallienne, Alice Pol, Laure Calamy, Ahmed Sylla and Camille Lellouche. But an essential person you don’t see on screen is the scriptwriter, in this case: Fadette Drouard.
Apart from this movie, scriptwriter Fadette Drouard also screen-wrote the movie “Patients” with Grand Corps Malade, which earned her a César nomination for the category “best adaptation” in 2018.
Today, we meet the movie author that everyone is raving about!
Let’s start with your journey
I’ve always been a good student, at least I think I have. At the age of 16, I hesitated between two orientations: obstetric medicine or film journalism. My teachers and the rest of the world told me “go to medical school, you’ll see what happens later”.
Even though the first year of medical school fascinated me, I realized that it wasn’t for me. So I went to Lille and started studying cultural mediation and communication. I told myself that to be a film journalist it would be better to sure about what you’re talking about and all I knew was that I liked the movie industry. So, I continued my studies at Lille 3 in filmology, and at the same time I joined Nord Eclair and was soon in charge of the film section.
I was a happy film journalist, and have been for more than 10 years.
How did you become a scriptwriter?
I didn’t even realize I was becoming a scriptwriter. I was very happy as a film journalist, and I loved my job. During an interview, I met Ramzy Bedia and we talked a lot about the movie industry. As the discussion progressed, we talked about a movie he was trying to write, but never succeeded. I suggested a few sentences to him and he said “ok, this works, but what would it actually look like?”, he managed to put the keyboard in my hands and I didn’t let go of it… However, it took me a long time to tell myself that I was a screenwriter.
What does it mean to be a scriptwriter?
You have to imagine everything that is going to be seen on screen, and part of the scenes as well. We write down images. So yes, there is the narration, but also the characters, the sets, the costumes, the dialogues, and everyone’s movements.
I don’t really have a method and it also depends on the person I’m writing with if there is one. Anyway, sometimes I write alone, other times I don’t.
I like to start writing by asking myself all the questions, sometimes I talk to my co-writer, sometimes I talk to myself, or sometimes I even talk to my cats. What’s inside of a writer’s head can be strange.
What do you like about your job?
Actually, I like everything about it. Questioning myself, knowing where I’m starting, building the characters, dressing them, making them talk, building their universe… And then getting them started, throwing obstacles, gift packages… After all, it’s similar to playing The Sims.
What’s your definition of a good script?
It’s a script that translated the whole movie when reading it. A script in which the characters, while they may be paradoxical, are also coherent. I am also particularly careful to put a little bit of imagery in it and make sure that the writing is fluid because a good script is also a script that reads easily and that doesn’t make the reader fall asleep.
How did the adventure for the movie “Patients” begin?
I met Fabien’s manager at a party. After a while, he told me “Are you a writer?”. I had barely written “Hibou” (Editor’s note: owl), so I probably answered something stupid. That didn’t stop him though, he said: “I’m asking because, we were thinking that maybe we could make a movie from Fabien’s book”.
I replied that it might be a good idea. I met Fabien and we immediately got along and told each other that we would see what we can do. We started writing when he had a free spot in his schedule and when I had the time. We wrote it in two months. Our first readers were our producers, everything matched.
What about the movie “The Dindon”?
I was working on a series with Guillaume Gallienne, the person Jalil Lespect contacted for this crazy adaptation project. It happened very naturally, this trio. We realized that we were quite complimentary, that we liked each other enough to fight over a script and spent a lot of time brainstorming together. What happens next… I’m waiting to see, I’ll let you know!
After your nomination for a César in 2018, I imagine that you became a much-demanded scriptwriter! How many projects are you working on at the same time?
A few, I would say 5 or 6 movies and 2 TV shows. It’s a lot, but they’re not all on the same stage of development, so they don’t all require the same amount of attention. On the other hand, they always are on my mind, a bit like a software that runs in the background, with push notifications from time to time, and that you recall when you want to look at them more in detail. Yeah, it’s really strange, the mind of a scriptwriter.
Any future plans?
Plenty! Things that are planned to be shot next year with Depardieu, another one in Peru, another one in New York, English things, French things, in all genres including science fiction. And yes, two big ones, an adapted series of “In Search of Lost Time” with Guillaume Galienne, and another one, which I created, and that will happen at the foot of my building, in Roubaix. It’s easier, you have to be on set very early… (laughs)
Any tips for those who want to get into this business?
It’s difficult to give you advice on the top of my head… Maybe two things: watch ALL the movies and ALL the images you can lay your eyes on, and we’re lucky: we live in an era where everything is quite accessible…
Read about the pioneers of our profession: storytellers. Tales, mythologies, classical texts, from Molière to Racine, passing Marivaux, Wilde, Shakespeare. We still haven’t done better in my opinion.
How can a platform as KastingKafé have an impact on a screenwriter?
Screenwriting is a solitary profession. So, meeting people, being able to exchange information, it’s always difficult, fortunately, there are the internets! (Yes, I’m young, I say the internets).
The question of the community
What does your tattoo on your arm, “N’importe quoi”, mean?
I had the tattoo when I went to New York to write a movie. It was a strange time, my phone was ringing nonstop, there were the one million entries for the film “Patients”, the Césars… The idea is to remember that everything, in the end, is “n’importe quoi” (ed whatever). Me, Fadette Drouard, born in the North of France, I’m working for the movie industry, I have an imdb, I’m “in” the movie industry? It doesn’t mean I’m doing “whatever”, not at all. It means that you have to take things seriously, but it would be dangerous to forget that leitmotif and to take yourself to seriously…
- The movie “Le Dindon”, still in movie theaters in Belgium and France.
- All the news on the movie industry on the website BANDE A PART.
- Next release: “Papicha” will be released in theaters on October 9th, 2019. Scriptwriting in collaboration with Mounia Meddour. The film will represent Algeria for the Oscars 2020.