'BREF'. is a French television series created by Kyan KHOJANDI and produced by Harry TORDJMAN for My Box Productions. It has been broadcast of CANAL+ since August 29, 2011. The last episode aired on July 12, 2012.
FLORIAN DAVID: Good morning Harry. Thanks for talking to us today. You are the Producer of an extremely successful TV Series in France called ‘BREF’ (‘SO’), could you tell our readers how this all started?
HARRY TORDJMAN: I had been the manager of Kyan (KHOJANDI - the Lead Character) for two years and I suggested he should give a crack at writing some short programming. He came back a few days later with the first Episode of ‘BREF’ co-written with Bruno Muschio. I read it and I said ‘Wow that thing is sick let’s do it!’ We shot the pilot a few days later. Two weeks later I presented the pilot to Canal+, with whom I was already producing ‘The two guys who work at Canal+’ with Ben and Jonathan Cohen. They watched it, they loved it, and things went very fast, just like the Show!
DAVID: ’BREF’, in a few figures?
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DAVID: Is ‘BREF’ merely a Comedy Show, or can we also see it as a criticism of the capitalist system, in a context of economic crisis and unemployment? The portrayal of a society empty of meaning, where it is now impossible for a lot of people to dream of better things to come? Where family and friends have become the last refuge?
TORDJMAN: Wahou ! Interesting interpretation! I would say rather that it is the Story of a Human Being.
DAVID: Your Production Company is called ‘MyBox’. How do you envision your work as a Producer?
TORDJMAN: I see it as craftmanship. Also Comedy is really a separate genre that requires lots of attention to detail and dedication. And ‘MyBox’ because it is an Ideas Box from which sometimes emerges a good idea. ‘BREF’ was one, I believe.
DAVID: Your definition of ‘Talent’?
TORDJMAN: For me talent is connected with the courage to think outside established frameworks. ‘Out of the Box’ (but in My Box! ; ))
DAVID: Possible to describe a typical day in the life of Harry Tordjman? How do you cope with pressure? Any Sport, Yoga?…
TORDJMAN: I am getting between 200 to 250 emails every day. So it’s a race to answer. And of course a lot of meetings. But I am making some space for moments of nothingness where I recharge my batteries and let my mind wander. Usually it is after those moments that I emerge with some intuitions that help me to take some decisions.
'FOR ME TALENT IS CONNECTED WITH THE COURAGE TO THINK OUTSIDE OF ESTABLISHED FRAMEWORKS. 'OUT OF THE BOX''
DAVID: As always the public often witnesses one’s successes, more rarely the periods of hardship or challenges. Can you tell us the funniest episode from your most difficult times?
TORDJMAN: Strangely enough I do not recollect periods of hardship, but rather some challenging times. The first three years in the life of my company have been so interesting, that’s where I learned my craft and my passion for comedy!
DAVID: The most difficult milestone on the way to giving birth to ‘BREF’?
TORDJMAN: I would say it was shooting the first 40 episodes while our budget was way too tight to satisfy our ambition. Still we decided to press ahead and make all the required efforts to bring the project to life. The team followed us because everyone believed in the project and because they could see that we were determined. I want to thank everyone here one more time.
DAVID: You often made some references to the movies by ‘Les Nuls’ untitled ‘La Cité de la peur’ (The City of Fear’). We saw you recently next to Alain Chabat - So…Emotional encounter? Any projects together?
TORDJMAN: No projects together for the time being. I did one of my first internships at ‘Wam’ (Alain’s production company). And after this experience with him, I realized that I wanted to produce comedy.
DAVID: Coluche or Desproges ?
TORDJMAN: Both of them! But I would have to say Desproges, because Ben (the first humorist with whom I worked) was often compared to him.
DAVID: Seinfeld ou Friends ?
TORDJMAN: To hard to chose !!! Seinfeld as the king of stand up and Friends as it revolutionized the Sitcom genre. The common point being that there has been a before and an after.
DAVID: The funniest comedian of all times?
TORDJMAN: Impossible to answer this question. I have a TOP list: Jerry Seinfeld, Ricky Gervais, Louis C.K., Chris Rock…
DAVID: Do you feel like you are accomplishing the dreams that you had as a kid?
TORDJMAN: Oh yes indeed, and I’m hoping that this is only the beginning!
DAVID: In English, what would the title ‘BREF’ become? ‘Anyways’? The lead comedian Kyan Khojandi has done some stand up comedy in the US, so when can we expect BREF in America?
TORDJMAN: It would be « So. » And we are chatting with the US to maybe adapt the series. No arrested date yet though. That kind of negotiation does take time.
DAVID: You were in China recently, if the programme were exported to China would you keep a supervisory role? How would that happen concretely?
TORDJMAN: I wasn’t in China. I met the CEO of CCTV at the MIP TV in Cannes to discuss a possible adaptation. Those discussions are ongoing.
DAVID: According to you are there any cultural limits to the adaptation of the series abroad? Seen from here it looks to us that it would just become a big hit anywhere…
TORDJMAN: I do not know… I just see that people like it wherever we show it. Maybe we have managed to create something universal. What I know for a fact is that this has never been something we were after ;)
'WE ARE CHATTING WITH THE US TO MAYBE ADAPT THE SERIES. NO ARRESTED DATE YET THOUGH. THAT KIND OF NEGOTIATION DOES TAKE TIME'
DAVID: Could you share with us a little exclusive anecdote? Some special moment of friendship taking place backstage or on the set with all the team?
TORDJMAN: Yes, the very last shot of the second session. We had recreated a street of New York. And on that very last shot, we were all so tired, we all embraced and hugged each other. We were both sad and happy. A nice mix of sensations, and it actually feels good remembering this.
DAVID: Any other project in your boxes? Any projets from some creative friends you believe in and encourage?
TORDJMAN: A lot of projects. But for the time being, this is all confidential. The key thing is above all to allow for some Talented people to blossom, as we have done in ‘BREF’.
DAVID: The last time that you cried at the movies ?
TORDJMAN: I very seldom cry at the movies. The last time it was for « Away we go » (by Sam Mendes), during the last sequence.
DAVID: The last time you laughed ?
TORDJMAN: I’m laughing very often.
DAVID: Your favorite quote ?
TORDJMAN: ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger’.
DAVID: Bérénice Béjo who is opening the Cannes Film Festival ceremony has asked you guys to write the speech - nice honor! So is it ready?
TORDJMAN: Yes! ; )
DAVID: ’SO’, we see each other in Cannes and get together for lunch?
TORDJMAN: Or rather in London. I really love that City!
DAVID: Thank you Harry, and long life to your beautiful projects !