Kiss the Frog – A Love Letter to France

The first feature of the Franco-American Kevin Dole is designed to be a co-production benefiting from the approval of French production. Katie Holmes is in negotiations to be the main character in this international romantic comedy. While Midnight in Paris, the latest Woody Allen film, a declaration of love to our capital, has achieved excellent scores in France (1.6 million admissions in eight weeks) and also in the United States, where it totaled $ 33.6 million in 45 days e’exploitation – a strong worldwide performance – another American director is working hard to also declare his love for our country. The director is Kevin Dole. For his first feature film, following the completion of hundreds of TV commercials, it is not so much the attractions of the city that makes his heart beat, but the flavors of our region, its cuisine, its markets, small lost villages, and their people. It must be said that he did not fall into the Gallic pot when he was little, Kevin Dole fell later. After growing up near Chicago, he fell in love with a French-American, whom he married. As much of their family is living in France, the couple visits very often. It was during these trips that Kevin Dole fell in love again, but this time with France! Now he has dual nationality. “The histories of the United States and France are deeply connected, said Kevin Dole. It’s like the relationship between a man and a woman in love. They can never fully understand one another because they are profoundly different. This is the basis for any romantic comedy. The one I decided to write plays on these differences.”

As the production of a feature film was a new undertaking, Kevin Dole took his time. While planning the project and also meeting with the team of Film France since 2005, he worked eight years with two co-authors (Robert Huttinger, a native of Vienna, who shares his affection for small villages Europe, and Bob Griffard, writer and longtime friend) to write Kiss the Frog. Their story portrays an American businesswoman who inherits a farm where a farmer cultivates snails. With the price he receives for his excellent work, the tiny village where he lives is the host of an annual escargot festival. For fear of losing this key to its economic survival, the village unites against the newcomer who, for lack of a speedy resolution to the situation, eventually falls in love. “It’s a romantic comedy on the theme of cultural misunderstand, but with a ensemble cast, and full of comic deception and double-crossing,” said Kevin Dole.

A year ago, it was presented by his attorney, Lisa Nitti, to Michael London, who heads the company Groundswell Productions founded in 2006. Widely honored, the independent U.S. production company has produced nine films including The Informant!, by Steven Soderbergh, and Harvey Milk, by Gus van Sant. “We get a lot of scripts sent by people who are outside the business, said Michael London. We were charmed by the universality of the story by Kevin Dole, and which is also full of fantasy and humor. We offered to help get the film made by assisting with a small script revision, then the Franco-American financial structure and the casting. I immediately thought of Katie Holmes for the role of the American who goes to France. We are in advanced negotiations with her.” The film’s budget, which will take nine weeks to shoot, is between € 8m and € 9 million. Michael London has brought together half of this amount relying primarily on private investors. It remains now to secure the French partners. Kevin Dole and Michael London are planning to approach French companies and independents. “We want Kiss the Frog to be produced as a French film, shot with a French crew, with French equipment and technicians” Kevin Dole insists. “In production the only Americans will be the three American characters (including Katie Holmes), some of Groundswell Productions’ team and myself. That’s all. As 90% of the story takes place in France and 75% of the cast is French, it seems natural to shoot in France and produce the film as French.”

Florence Bonvoisin, ecran total, July 2011

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