Valerie Combard for Les Martin

La Compagnie des Taxi-Brousse   |   France

Les Martin - a 6 hour television series, tells the story of a French family from 1945 to 1975. Their personal life is fictitious, but their historical surrounding is genuine. Alain Wieder, the author, wrote his narrative through a carefully knitted chronological frame. The Martins could have existed. General de Gaulle visited their town of Saint-Précy! Reason for Submission: 80% of this programme is made of archival material: home movies, newsreels, educational films, propaganda footage, industrial and promotional pictures, advertisements, television archives… Alain Wieder provided me with a first script, and off we went on an archival quest which lasted over 18 months. The family saga evolved as the footage came in. Characters were added because they looked so wonderful on film. For instance we found wide amounts of priests, and l'Abbé Ribière was born; he appears in each episode, organizing gymkhanas, marrying young couples, exercising in a forest…We used home movies from over 30 different families, and they all bring Les Martin to life, in a spirited and typical manner. The Martin clan is embodied by actors who appear in the series on a regular basis. In the family 'vault' (a set which was built in the production facility), main characters recall their experiences. They are thus personified throughout the programme. The experience was unlike any other. The research interplayed with the narration, and the Martin family became our own – when we saw a toddler walking, we thought ‘these are Marie-Jeanne's first steps…' We designed a ‘Martin' footage database comprising 3000 logs. This allowed us to search through different entries: character, location, episode, date, type of footage, type of event. Our footage providers (there were about 20) were incredibly resourceful; they came up with suggestions and reels galore! We ended up screening 800 hours of footage." Valerie Combard