EXCLUSIVE: Former Arte Cinema chief also developing interactive film geo-location App Cinema City.

Former Arte Cinema chief Michel Reilhac, who left the Franco-German broadcaster last November to focus on his transmedia interests, has announced his first major project: a multi-platform work exploring the world of the high endurance sport ultra-trailing.

“It’s a personal project which I’ve been writing for some two years,” explains Reilhac, who has reactivated his production company Mélange, which was mothballed during his time at Arte, and now defines himself as an auteur and transmedia consultant and producer.

Provisionally entitled Ultra-trail, the work draws inspiration from the world of ultra-trailing, an increasingly popular sport consisting of 150 to 200-kilometre marathons, such as the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and Grand Canyon Ultra Marathon, in which participants run for some 40 hours non-stop. 

Paris-based Denis Carot and Marie Masmonteil at Elzévir Films are producing alongside co-producers Belgian Diane Elbaum at Entre Chien et Loup and Canadian Luc Dery and Kim McCraw of Montreal-based Microscope.

On the creative side, Reilhac is co-writing the project with Bruno Masi - co-creator alongside Guillaume Herbaut of the Chernobyl-set transmedia project La Zone. Pierre Cattan’s transmedia production company Small Bang is handling the digital design and Eric Viennot of multimedia studio Lexis Numérique is developing a games component for the project.

“I’m co-writing and also acting as a sort of transmedia ‘showrunner’, coordinating all the various elements,” explains Reilhac, who will participate in a Berlinale Talent Campus panel on cross media on Sunday (Feb 10).

“The work will revolve around six blocks or story lines, unfolding on several platforms – the web, the real-world, television… over a period of six months in the second half of 2014. Each block is different but the ensemble will create a bigger interconnected picture of the ultra-trail world,” he adds.

Key components of the project include a feature-length creative documentary entitled Run on four top ultra marathoners; an accompanying web documentary, following the training of two amateur ultra-trailers, and a fiction film aimed at television.

The project, with a rough budget of $6.7m (€5m), has already secured the backing of France’s National Cinema Centre (CNC) and Arte. Reilhac is also hoping to tap into funding from Belgian and Canadian broadcasters through his co-producers.

Cinema City

Beyond Ultra-trail, Reilhac is also collaborating with Cattan’s Small Bang on the development of an interactive, geo-location application called Cinema City which identifies locations across Paris that have acted as film backdrops.

The application will enable users to play the scenes on their smartphones and tablets in situ, shoot their own versions and upload them to the Cinema City site and even acquire a VOD version of the entire picture. 

The application, which has been developed with the support of Arte, Paris City council, the CNC and the capital’s arthouse cinema complex Le Forum des Images, is due to go live in June 2013.

“I started developing the project at Arte… it enables people to visit Paris through the films that have been shot in the city,” says Reilhac, who has ambitions to launch similar Apps for Berlin, New York, Rome and Tokyo too.


Beyond developing his own projects, Reilhac is also working as a consultant for a number of festivals and film productions.

Notably, he is co-running the Venice Film Festival’s recently launched Biennale College alongside Savina Neirotti, Jane Williams and the IFP team in New York, aimed at training young filmmakers.

Under the initiative, Venice will support three micro-budget films a year to the tune of $200,000 (€150,000) from an initial selection of 15 first or second feature projects.

“I head to Venice after Berlin to work on pre-production of the three selected projects for six days,” says Reilhac.

“The idea is that they will be completed in time to premiere at the next Venice Film Festival.” The three projects comprise US director Tim Sutton’s Memphis, Thai Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit’s The Year of June and Alessio Fava’s Yuri Esposito.