The Academy Award-winning studio behind the Oscar darling CODA, Vendôme Pictures recently moved into the unscripted space. In October, Ninon Desplat was appointed head of development for documentaries and French series. Under the newly minted Vendôme documentary banner, Desplat is charged with creating a multi-genre, multinational documentary slate with a focus on pop culture subjects in both English and French. Desplat tells TV Real Weekly about the new doc focus for Vendôme.
TV REAL: What led to the launch of Vendôme’s documentary banner?
DESPLAT: Honestly, I think it is just an organic evolution for the company. People make such a difference between documentary and scripted, but I actually think they are complementary and only two different tools to tell a story. The intent is always to tell a story; this is what cinema is all about, isn’t it? Documentary brings a stronger look as you can go as deep as you possibly can to find the core of the subject, but its essence will always be to bring a story to light for the audience.
Philippe Rousselet [Vendôme founder, chairman and CEO] has been producing films in both the French and U.S. markets for three decades, so it feels just natural to turn toward documentaries, which sometimes have a more honest glance at reality than fiction.
TV REAL: What types of docs will Vendôme focus on initially?
DESPLAT: Initially, we will focus on docs with wide appeal combining pop culture subjects, politics, investigation, portraits and sports documentaries. We are also considering different formats and are not limited to feature films. The goal is once again to tell a great and compelling story.
TV REAL: What are the greatest opportunities you see in the marketplace today for doc programming?
DESPLAT: For the last ten years, the doc world has hugely expanded, and the public has a great appetite for it. Filmmakers have explored new genres and new formats that have grown the doc genre into something more modern, more creative and sometimes even more artistic. Filmmakers can play with the genre and make a singular work of art. Pushing the documentary limits has always existed with filmmakers such as Agnès Varda, Raymond Depardon, Jonas Mekas or Dziga Vertov, to name just a few, but it has now become a rule. This renewed appetite for the genre brought it to another level in terms of style, narration, content, structure, etc. It brings a certain truth and humanism that the audience is very keen on.
TV REAL: As you look at the year ahead, what are the strategic goals for the documentary banner at Vendôme?
DESPLAT: As we all know, the market has been hit pretty hard since Covid, and the major shifts in our industry raise many questions that are still unanswered. But if we want to be optimistic, our plan is to have a few projects in production in the next 12 months, both in the European market and the U.S. market.