February 13, 2017

SCA Family Stories: Jean de Meuron

From the Summer Program to the Oscars

Jean de Meuron '12

All alumni of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Summer Program make short films. Some of these films go on to have successful screenings. Some of these films go on to do well at film festivals. Some of these films launch careers. Of all these films, one film, La Femme et le TGV (2016), has climbed the mountain to receive a nomination for the highest award available in the medium -- an Oscar nomination. The film was executive produced by Summer Program alumnus Jean de Meuron ‘12.

“It’s a deeply humbling experience to be nominated for an Oscar, one of the most important and prestigious film awards in the world,” said de Meuron. “When I was a kid, I used to wake up at three in the morning due to the time difference between Los Angeles and Switzerland, so that I could watch the Awards Ceremony live. I remember cheering for all the nominees and Oscar-winners.”

Le femme et le TGV tells the charming tale of an elderly woman, Elise Lafontaine (Jane Birkin), who has been waving at an express train that passes by her house every day for many years. One day, she finds a peculiar note in her garden and begins a heartfelt correspondence through poetic letters with the train conductor, until one day the train stops passing by her house. Her resulting journey breaks her out of her shell when she travels to find that lost connection and her close, but never before seen companion.

De Meuron was immediately fascinated by this true story and director/writer Timo von Gunten’s innovative screenplay. “I met Timo while being a jury member at a Swiss film festival, where I had seen his wonderful short film,” said de Meuron. “I was incredibly impressed by his visual flair and style, as well as unique approach to cinema in terms of the framing and mise-en-scene. I came on board pretty much when we started. As I introduced myself to this talented young filmmaker, I said, ’I’m very impressed by your storytelling capabilities, so if you ever have a great story or script, please do not hesitate to send it to me.’”

The two struck up a remarkable collaboration: They made the film, found success, and de Meuron began a carefully thought out publicity, marketing and awards campaign for the Oscars, which he spearheaded.

“I worked incredibly hard, day and night, on the creative advertising materials, social media campaign and festivals push. I personally love the marketing aspect of the filmmaking ecosystem. At USC, I was fortunate to learn from David Weitzner, who is a great marketing mind.”

“I organized screenings and events all the time. I invited all of my internship contacts to screenings in order to build momentum, while generating buzz, intrigue and excitement. Early on, we strategized and brainstormed about how to best present and expose the film. One very important and magnetic component of the short is the lovely and iconic Jane Birkin, who gives a wonderful performance. She’s the grand dame of European cinema. We build a beautiful campaign around her, and around a film that is really heartwarming. A lot of critics called it ‘heartwarming and moving’, so we made use of that.”

De Meuron credits his time in the Summer program with much of his success and, in particular, his courses with Sebastian Twardosz. After graduating the summer program, de Meuron worked as an intern at MTV Networks, Viacom International Media Networks, Paramount Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Universal Pictures and MGM. While interning at The Weinstein Company in the Marketing, Creative Advertising Department, and for Harvey Weinstein’s office, de Meuron simultaneously produced La femme et le TGV with his producing partners Giacun Caduff and Bela Böke.

Further, de Meuron started his professional career at Scott Rudin Productions, working as Marketing Coordinator for prolific producer Scott Rudin.

To learn more about the SCA Summer Program, visit cinema.usc.edu/summer/

For more information on the film, please visit: http://tgv-movie.com