A few years later, in 2000, on the strength of her experience in the profession, Isabelle created her company, Iota production. In fact, what is the difference between production manager, executive producer, and producer at all?
“Ah yes, it’s not the same thing at all!”, she reacts. “Producer, it’s when you accompany the film from the beginning of its production to the end. You support the author or the author in the development of the project, you contact sellers and distributors upstream to circulate the film when it is finished, and you seek funding to produce it. Be careful, it’s your company, but it’s not your money: we’re not banks! But it’s you who will seek funds to finance the film. The producer is responsible for what is called the ‘good end’: delivering the film on time and on time as it was presented in the signed contracts.”
Executive producers, Isabelle sometimes hires some. “He’s a person who will help me organize all the management of a film – or even several. Someone who has an overview, but who is not responsible for the good ending.”
Finally, production manager is “the person who takes care of the management of the film specifically at the time of shooting. These people can be under the responsibility of an executive producer.”
Isabelle is more than well placed to know all this: she has already done all three. A long-time production manager, she then did executive production for others, and accumulated the hats for several years to supplement the financial income of her company. “But now the box works well, so I don’t need it anymore”, she smiled behind her glass.
From the beginning, I was interested in female directors
For 22 years, Iota production has accompanied the careers of different authors, both in documentary and fiction. “I am passionate, and I like to move from one creative universe to another, from a budget to an artistic reflection and then read a contract. And I’m constantly learning.” continues its founder, who estimates that a third of the number of women in French-speaking Belgian cinema today do the same job. We think of Julie Esparbes (Dalva), Alice Lemaire (overseas, Dreaming under capitalism) or even Annabella Nezri (#SalePute) who is with Isabelle in the CA of the Union of Francophone Producers (UPFF).
Feminism, a belated question
A third of women in the corporation is a much higher figure than when Isabelle started. But at the time, the question of feminism, “No one was asking it – and neither am I!”, she remembers. “As a student in Liège, I did an internship at the age of 20 in an association helping battered women and I became aware of the spiral of violence, of an understanding of the functioning of society through the prism of patriarchy. Then I threw myself into working life without making too much reference to it.”
It was in 2008, producing male dominance by Patric Jean, that reflection has returned to his life. “Then we had a president of the film commission, Joëlle Levie, who had previously worked in Quebec. She immediately announced that she would pay particular attention to female producers and directors. Well, I felt encouraged.”
Last but not least, in 2017 comes the #MeToo surge, and with it a more general awareness in society. “It made me realize many things: dominant models that I had integrated, inequalities, the lack of recognition or that of having less easy access to large financial amounts…”
There was a time when you had a big voice and shouted loudly, you weren’t heard
“We were a lot less women at the time, and I understood that we had little or no access to male-specific business camaraderie. I wasn’t invited, but in fact, I didn’t even ask myself the question. It’s the same for speaking in large tables: we pay attention to speech today, but I remember at one time, you could take a big voice and shout loudly, you were not heard. “ While the new generation starting up takes these questions for granted, for those who have been in the business for a long time, this reflection sometimes came much later.
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Les Bobines du Cinéma: Isabelle Truc, prolific producer