Arnaud Collery is a comedian and filmmaker of Little Klaus Big World. Little Klaus Big World is an international documentary comedy about action star dreams, love and worldwide adventure. Klaus Pierre is a half German, half French, wanna-be action star who travels to Hollywood to be the next Keanu Reeves, his all-time action hero. An unfortunate event takes him back to Europe. But fate then puts Klaus on another journey through Japan, China and India. I recently interviewed Arnaud about his film and life as a comedian. Below is the transcript of our interview…
1. Why did you make Little Klaus Big World?
I wanted to show the world it is possible to make a comedy that people from around the world finds funny. I am an international comedian. I don’t do comedy for a little crowd, I do comedy for everyone. I am French but most of my stage time have been in Los Angeles, yet I have also done a lot of grow up in Asia. I belong everywhere. I wanted mainly to appeal to the French , American, Japanese and Chinese sensitivity as those 4 countries represent the world in many ways.
Prior to Little Klaus I wanted to shoot a spiritual documentary around the world and I could not find financing and thought to myself I’ll just shoot a silly comedy the way i like to do it – in a “prank” way! The funny thing is that the result is that people feel inspired by my “silly” comedy. I have received many thanks from people who had watched the films from different screenings I organized around the world including the Nigata Film Festival in Japan.
People feel inspired to travel and just change life, do something new with their life. The film allowed them to transform themselves.
2. What sort of reaction has it received?
I did 12 screenings around the world, all successful if success is rated per the reaction of people in the room. No distributors, I have to say, showed at any of them despite roughly 1000 emails! Nonetheless, we got “Best Comedy film 2012” at the Monaco Charity Film Festival earlier in May.
We were so overwhelmed. People in the audience get it!! It is a family friendly film.
On the other end, it has been extremely tough to secure distribution as I have heard times and times again “your comedy is not mean” or “we can t put your movie in a box, we need a box, this film has too many genres in it”
I have talked to the majors distributors of the world and people loved it. They don’t know how to market it. We shot it as a documentary, my favorite genre. Many real people in real situations are the basis of what the film is about. “If only you were famous” is a also a phrase I heard a lot. Haha.
3. You traveled around the world to make the film. What was the most interesting place you visited or person you met and why?
I already know Japan a great deal as I have been fortunate to live there a total of 4 years over the last 20 years. The other places we shot were Switzerland, France, India, US and China. What was incredible in China was the amount of things people would let me shoot once I “heart” connected to them. They just wanted to know if I meant any harm to China. They would truly actually assess my trust level. Once they’d trust me, I could shoot as much as I wanted.
Experiences I had at a Chinese primary school dancing with the kids at 6 am or in Shao Lin kung fu training temples were unbelievable. People helped me, trusted me and I lived some “magical’ moments. I am so thankful to China for that. It helped that I had a grant from the Chinese govt prior shooting that allowed me to study Chinese culture and society for one year part time while I was making the film. It did give a stamp of credibility to the project.
Interesting people I met are so numerous I am not sure where to begin. Doctor Nakamatsu is a fascinating Japanese character, a true life genius and inventor of over 1000 products including the first floppy discs. He is an excentric genius who has his own gold toilet into his elevator within his home!!
I also had Miss Jay from America Next Top Model teaching me how to walk with women shoes in the street of Paris!
4. How did you get interested in being a comedian?
Very late in my life. I became a comedian at 30. Growing up I had no more interested in comedy than a normal person. Like every Frenchmen I grew up watching “Louis de Funes” or “Fernandel”, “Pierre Richard”. Those guys, believe it or not until the late 70s were the biggest comedians in the world except….America. Every video store in Russia, Africa or Asia have about 100 to 200 movies of those guys. In the Soviet Union (when it was called that way) people would queue 3 hours to see them. They were unbelievable. Nowadays the best comedians in the world are Americans no question. Jim Carey is my favorite of all time. Mister Beans might be my second. Belgium has a couple of amazing comedians.
The first part of my life was spent in the business world and late in my late 20s decide to go to Hollywood as an actor I was very afraid of comedy. I did not think I could do it. After one year in LA, I took a “comedy” workshop and the rest is history…Somehow I felt home once on stage doing jokes. I had found my calling!
5. What are some of the challenges of living in LA as a comedian?
Comedy as such does not pay in LA or NYC. You have to use it to leverage funds to make a movie like me (that means you need some business skills or directing/filmmaking desires) or get gigs outside of those two towns to make it lucrative. It is really tough. It is a calling just like being a priest.
The amount of time you spent writing and going on stage has no direct consequences to what you earn. Labor of love it is! I will keep doing comedy the rest of my life whether the world wants me to do it or not. It s a new way to look at the world. When you take the comedic side, things seem easier, not so harsh. Most comedians start in this field because they need to express their anger at themselves, society, the world. Most come from a good heart. It’s either they do comedy or…(every bad things..could be imagined). It becomes a need once you stepped into it and you were decently good.
6. What are some of the rewarding parts of being a comedian?
The reward is that you know you’re doing something so challenging for most people that it gives you some confidence in other occasions and again a different, more positive outlook on the world. If you get mad at something that seems unfair in the world in the world, you’ll just talk about it next time you’ll be on stage. It also make you a better public speaker of course, actor, writer and a good observer of the society. I sometimes go to the comedy store just to take the pulse on how society is feeling today.
I just launched comiquessansfrontieres.com a NGO to bring comedy to third world nations. I had done it before in Morocco, Philippines and Tanzania. I had the feeling that comedy is such an empowering tool for kids and adults alike. It brings the best out of them and make them realize again that there is a way to feel not so bad about oneself or the world, because we make fun of ourselves and the world. It s probably one of the thing in my life that I am the most proud in my life. I have started happysundays.us, a weekly fun, sometimes comedic conversation about spiritual questions in life. In comedy films, I have a couple of projects in Africa and South America. I d like to do more research on how is done comedy in over those two places! As a comedic actor I got casts for pilots which I am hoping to be shot in September. Big TV productions behind! I also keep performing once a week no matter where I am in the world. I perform for different promoters at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles but recently I performed again in Paris, Tokyo and every time I get a chance in NYC. I love performing for instance in a very little know club called Bar 4 in Brooklyn hosted by Yannis Papas.
8. Where can people get a copy of Little Klaus Big World?
You can also get in touch with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.