Besson's Europa gears up for Le Mans shoot. (The World)

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Author: Charles Masters
Date: Apr. 19, 2002
From: Hollywood Reporter(Vol. 373, Issue 5)
Publisher: Prometheus Global Media LLC
Document Type: Brief article
Length: 240 words

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PARTS -- Luc Besson's production outfit, Europa Corp., has entered two cars in the legendary Le Mans 24-Hour race this June, and will use the event as the basis of his forthcoming auto-racing drama, "Michel Vaillant," the company said Thursday.

"We'll shoot live during the race. The aim is for once to make a realistic motor-racing movie," said Pierre Ange Le Pogam, Besson's partner in Europa Corp., who negotiated the Le Mans shoot with the race organizers, Automobile Club de l'Ouest. The Le Mans 24-Hour runs June 15-16 on a circuit in western France.

The cars, a Lola and a Panoz, will be driven by professional racing drivers and will compete in the race.

But Le Pogam said there is no chance of either car winning because they will have to make additional pit stops to attend to such technical matters as reloading cameras.

Once the race footage is in the can, the dramatized elements will be filmed at a later date to avoid interfering with the race itself. The rest of the shoot is scheduled for August to October in various European locations.

"Vaillant" is adapted from a popular French comic strip and is being directed by Louis-Pascal Couvelaire. Besson co-wrote the screenplay with Alexandre Ciolek. Casting is under way, but is not expected to include any major French stars. The film is budgeted at about 23 million euros ($20 million) and is due for release in summer 2003.

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