How the filming of “Black Butterflies” ended up in a mysterious house

How the filming of “Black Butterflies” ended up in a mysterious house

How the filming of “Black Butterflies” ended up in a mysterious house

It is one of those films where the atmosphere of the place makes the flavor. Series The Black Butterflies, whose first episode airs Wednesday 7 September on Arte, is one of them: the story of a former serial killer who decides to hire an uninspired writer to write his memoirs. The main plot takes place in the house of Albert, a retired killer, a place where time seems to have stopped.

But finding a home that exactly matched the director’s wishes and script requirements wasn’t easy. “We had to meet several criteria,” he explains to 20 minutes Frédéric Alexandre, freelance assistant production designer specializing in finding film sets.

“A house wet in its juice”

“The production company, GMT Productions, was looking for a house soaked in its juice, with an old wallpaper, in the middle of a forest. The furniture had to express the idea that time had stopped ”, he adds.

Co-produced by Pictanovo, the regional fund for film aid from Upper France, the series was to be shot, for the most part, in the Nord or Pas-de-Calais. However, the tour of the houses in the forest produced nothing. “It was often too isolated, without electricity,” recalls Frédéric Alexandre.

And the time has passed. Three weeks before filming began, the team still hadn’t found the rare gem. “He was tense. I was authorized to leave Lille to go prospecting towards Arras, ”he points out. And one day, a combination of circumstances changed the fate of the series.

Some locals are unaware of its existence.

“It was raining a downpour, I got stuck near a village between Arras and Cambrai, he says. I called a farmer friend who lived nearby to help me. When I saw a tractor coming up a small path, I thought it was him. I walked along this path to meet him and there, by chance, I came across this house that seemed abandoned, with a wooded setting. It was almost magical. “

Because, in reality, this house also contains its share of mystery. Even in the village, some residents are unaware of its existence. “This is a second home that is actually unknown because it has no direct neighbors,” confirms the administrative assistant of the town hall, Sabine Dhorne.

German dispensary during the Second World War

All that remained was to find the owner and convince him. Frédéric Alexandre went to visit a neighbor. “A very nice gentleman told me that the house belonged to a dentist near Douai. I got in touch with him and we were able to shoot in time. Because, moreover, the interior of the building had retained a soul of the 70s.

In June 2021, during the filming of the series broadcast on Arte,
In June 2021, during the filming of the series broadcast on Arte, “Black farfalle”, – ED

But how did such a Norman house end up in the artesian countryside? “At the base there was a castle destroyed during the First World War, underlines the owner’s wife, contacted by 20 minutes. The house was rebuilt after the war, then served as a German dispensary during World War II. It belonged to a young lady who lived in Paris and who ended up selling it to my father-in-law, a mining engineer. For him this house was a real breath of fresh air because he lived in the city, in an apartment. “

Second round

And this vacation rental hasn’t changed for fifty years. “My husband kept the memories of his adolescence there and we never did any major work to renew it,” he admits. All the better for the series production team who will only have a few tweaks to do.

Filming lasted three weeks, late May, early June 2021. “It was the first time that our small town of 300 inhabitants had hosted a film crew. We lent them the town hall to serve as a canteen, ”explains the town hall.

Since then, this mysterious house has been emulated. Another production box contacted Frédéric Alexandre and a second shoot took place in June, for three days, for the film. Black light by Karim Bensalah. “Black butterflies, black light … This residence visibly inspires darkness”, jokes Frédéric Alexandre. In any case, a film perfume seems to be anchored there.

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