Born to Produce Powerful Stories: Multi-Award Winning Producer Zoé Pelloux
French producer Zoé Pelloux has long known the power film and television has in our lives. She has been the driving force behind dozens of film, television and music video productions in both Paris and Los Angeles. Before launching her transatlantic career in entertainment, however, Pelloux recalls the comfort that the movies provided during trying times in life.
“My father is a big movie consumer, especially during his afternoon naps after long hours at the Emergency Room. I spent my entire childhood and teenage years watching movies with him all weekend long,” Pelloux recalled. “Movies were an escape for me during that time. I guess that’s why I’m doing it today, to provide an escape to others.”
While studying at the illustrious Sorbonne-Nouvelle in her native Paris, Pelloux got her first industry experience as a script supervisor. Among the projects she was involved in were the hit Canal+ crime series “Braquo” and “Spiral,” and the 2014 comedy “Serial (Bad) Weddings.” Directed by Philippe de Chauveron, “Serial (Bad) Weddings” was a huge success. The film sold more than 12 million tickets domestically in France alone, and was nominated for Best European Film at the European Film Academy People’s Choice Awards.
So began Pelloux’s career, and before long she was headed to Los Angeles. She swiftly became a leading figure within the large and competitive pool of L.A.’s media industry professionals. Among her long and growing list of successful projects is “Manny Fantasma: Paranormal Psychiatrist,” a pilot which first screened at the Santa Monica International Film Festival in December 2018.
“Manny Fantasma is a common psychiatrist with very uncommon patients — ghosts, vampires and witches come to him looking for help. Completely absorbed by his job, he forgets to take care of his own family,” Pelloux described. “The pilot introduces Manny and his practice through a couple sessions with two ghosts who are having marital issues in the afterlife. Throughout the pilot the audience begins to see that Manny is more focused on his job than on taking care of his wife and child.”
The moment Pelloux read the story for “Manny Fantasma,” she recognized a brilliant concept with immense potential. Together with the pilot’s writer and director Michael Carnick, Pelloux worked tirelessly to bring the innovative project from the page to the screen. The sheer scale of her responsibilities before, during, and following production is staggering; there are few others in the industry capable of juggling such an array of duties as effectively as Pelloux did every day while producing “Manny Fantasma.”
Pelloux’s dedicated perseverance through all the long hours and sleepless nights of constant labor paid off many times over. Audiences and critics alike raved about “Manny Fantasma: Paranormal Psychiatrist” when it screened at festivals. The pilot won 11 awards and six additional nominations at a dozen festivals. Pelloux herself was named in nine out of the 11 awards the film won, including the Finalist Award at the 2019 Los Angeles Cinefest and the award for Best Web/TV Pilot from the Los Angeles Film Awards in February 2019. As the project’s accolades continue to grow, talks of turning “Manny Fantasma” from pilot to primetime are ongoing in summer 2019.
Producing any project, whether for television or film, carries a multitude of challenges that are unique to the medium. The same goes for music video production, another area of expertise for Pelloux. Transitioning between mediums is always a challenging maneuver, but versatility is perhaps Pelloux’s most defining characteristic as a producer. The music video she produced for indie rock band Charly and The Characters’ single “Don’t Know Don’t Care” is proof that Pelloux has a golden touch.
“‘Don’t Know Don’t Care’ is a music video that I wrote, directed and produced for the artist Charly featuring the band The Characters,” Pelloux said, explaining just how personal the project was for both her and lead singer Charly. “The song is about self-discovery, about Charly’s coming out as bisexual. She never really realised her attraction towards women until I came along. The song lyrics open on their first encounter and continue through her realisation that she is actually in love with a woman — and it’s okay.”
An uplifting and intimate piece, “Don’t Know Don’t Care” chronicles the struggles and empowerment that Charly experienced when she came out. Having been there every step of the way for her fiancée, Pelloux was uniquely poised to help Charly tell her story. The music video encapsulates the song’s messages of love, pride, and bravery in the face of adversity and hate. Shot in black and white, the video features a cross between live action and animation against the backdrop of the Los Angeles cityscape.
“It was my first time working on a project that was mixing live-action and animation like this and I adored it,” Pelloux said. “I can’t wait to do it again.”
“Don’t Know Don’t Care” wasn’t the first music video Pelloux produced with Charly. She also produced Charly’s video for the track “What’s Next?” as well as the Charly & Faust collaboration “No Rush.” The latter was a fantastic hit with festival critics and won an array of awards including Best Music Video Gold Award at the 2017 L.A. Short Awards, and was a semi-finalist at the 2018 L.A. CineFest Awards.
Pelloux is currently working with cinematographer and longtime collaborator Guy Longstreet on his film “Black Jade.” The film is written and directed by Longstreet and harkens back to one of the grittiest and most iconic Los Angeles cinematic traditions — film noir.
“It’s a neo-noir thriller about a stale marriage turned upside-down when the wife’s identical twin sister comes to L.A. for a visit,” Pelloux explained. “Raymond Skyes is a writer who’s having a hard time writing his next novel. Following his wife Dorothy to Los Angeles, his fantasies become more and more vivid when her twin sister Adel arrives in town. Through his illusions, we discover his insecurities, his fears, and his passion for lust.”
The dark thriller is guaranteed to keep audiences on the edge of their seats guessing until the end. Currently in pre-production, filming on “Black Jade” is scheduled for summer 2019. When asked about his work on the film with Pelloux, Longstreet described his colleague in shining terms.
“Production is a complicated and tiring endeavor. Long hours, physical endurance, and superior communication skills are all necessary for a successful shoot. Zoé consistently delivers all of the above,” Longstreet said. “She inspires you to dream the impossible, then works to ensure you achieve it.”
An indefatigable drive and masterful ability to juggle every detail of a production, no matter the medium, distinguish Zoé Pelloux from her peers in the industry. Capable and determined, Pelloux has a powerful talent for meeting both the creative and logistical demands of every project that comes her way. Whether working in film, television, or music, Zoé Pelloux is a master producer in a league of her own.