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The making of For a Few Rupees

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At BIAFF 2009 Jean-Pierre Hué won 4-stars with For a Few Rupees.

The population of Bengal tigers is in decline, mainly due to poaching for illegal trade. In Rajasthan, in the Ranthambore National Park, an NGO (non-governmental organisation) has managed to curb the phenomenon though its assistance to local populations. The film looks at how it succeeds, by improving their living conditions, so that those people are encouraged to stop poaching.

Inquisitive About Everything

Still from 'For a Few Rupees'. Since my earliest days I've loved digging about in nature, inquisitive about everything, curious to discover what is behind a bush, in a cave ... or behind a person's face. I am a solitary person, but someone always in search of a meeting with people whose customs, traditions, modes of life differ greatly from mine.

I built a career as an engineer in the Airbus company, but in parallel followed my true calling to report from the four corners of the world. At first I did it with the family, and then on my own, when I tackled more sensitive issues.

My latest reports (Niger, Ethiopia and India) were each shot in 4 to 5 days (the trips actually lasted 10 to 12 days including travel to and fro.) It was therefore necessary to prepare well in advance by targeting a very specific topic. I research and write the bulk of the script before I go. On site, I usually take a day to plan the story with my contacts and local guides.

Trying to be as unobtrusive as possible

I used to film with a Canon XL1 camera, but For a Few Rupees was shot with a Sony HD (A1E). I rarely film with a camera support so that I am always ready when something occurs, and because I am trying to be as unobtrusive as possible so as not to influence what is happening.

There are about 3 hours of rushes shot for a 15 to 20 minute finished film. The sound comes from the camera microphone. The light is always natural, I never add artificial lights. I use the Avid Liquid 7.2 editing software. The only special effects are those for titles, fades and a few replays. The music is generally purchased on the spot. Commentary is often written during the filming, following the form of the story as it develops.

I find my film subjects through meetings with friends who are passionate about travel, reporters encountered during my travels, directors I invite to the Festival International du Film Animalier in my home town of Albert. For example Mike Pandey (director, producer, recognized worldwide for his work on conservation, education of children and raising awareness of the environment), who welcomed me to his home in New Delhi, before making For a Few Rupees.

Still from 'For a Few Rupees'. Still from 'For a Few Rupees'.

I had long considered making a film about the coexistence between Bengal tigers and the local population. Mike enabled me to meet people who look after reformed poachers and help their reintegration with their families.

The film was widely distributed in India but also in many other countries. It was screened at numerous festivals during special evenings devoted to the defence of biodiversity.

- Jean-Pierre Hué

Festival du Film Animalier

Jean-Pierre is one of the founders and organisers of FIFA (Festival du Film Animalier) - a week-long annual celebration of wildlife filming around the world. The event is held in the town of Albert, in the north of France. The festival includes activities, talks, art displays and distinguished guests. It includes professional and amateur work from around the world. For information see www.fifa.com.fr which is in French and English.

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