Sets, cutting plans… How will the debate differ between the two towers of 2017?

The debate between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, broadcast live on TF1 and F2 this Wednesday, promises to be busy in a minimalist atmosphere. With a closer gap between the two candidates than in 2017.

Revenge. The debate between the two rounds between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, which will be broadcast live this Wednesday from 9 p.m moderated 2, Léa Salamé and by the owner of the 20 hours of TF 1, Gilles Bouleau.

“It’s the ‘Return’ debate, it makes me think of Rocky,” confides the director of the evening, Didier Froehly, at the microphone of Ligne Rouge in long format, which will be broadcast on BFMTV this Monday evening. “There’s envy, excitement, fear, everything’s there! All emotions are boiling in the pan,” says the man who worked on the primary election debates from left and right in 2017.

According to the latest polls, featured in our Élyséemètre BFMTV, the gap between the two contenders for the Élysée promises to narrow compared to 2017: 53% for the outgoing President versus 47% for the RN candidate. In this context, the debate between the two rounds is of particular importance. Five years ago, Marine Le Pen lost 3 points in the polls after her painful performance.

This time, even more than usual, substance is given priority over form in a deliberately minimalist atmosphere. “If the envelope is severe”, specifies western france TF1 Group information director Thierry Thuillier “focuses viewers on what matters”.

Everyone in their place in a different environment

There will be four of them on set. Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, Léa Salamé and Gilles Bouleau. But this time, unlike 2017, no big table with the 4 protagonists. Le Pen and Macron will, of course, face each other, but candidates and journalists will sit separately. “Everyone behind their little desks,” specifies Didier Froehly.

They can put their cards or files there and follow the countdown of speaking time in real time, and a tablet on each desk allows them to put down their glass of water without making the slightest parasitic noise, specified The Parisian. Two meters fifty separate the two candidates and four meters separate them from the journalists.

Behind it, a huge high-resolution screen measuring 3.7m high and 30.5m wide serves as the backdrop. It was designed by Olivier Illouz, chief decorator and creator of the design company Studio 40, specialized in the manufacture of televisions (the origin of the 2021 set for the Victoires de la Musique and the NRJ Music Awards).

As in 2017, a figurative reconstruction of the Élysée was planned, with a courtyard and two neutral side buildings. But this background was not validated by the candidates’ environment, we learn The Parisian. Three other proposals were made to them, with two main colors: blue and beige-champagne. Which strongly alludes to the choice of the candidates’ outfits.

“We’re in an arena”

The camera device is reversed compared to the previous debate. So the cameras are focused on the two candidates as long as the journalists don’t intervene. Sixteen cameras – three more than in 2017 – including a 12-meter crane and a tracking shot are mobilized on the set. This device will allow to ensure long, medium and narrow shots on the two candidates. In case of problems, seven additional cameras are available.

The debate was intended as an “arena”, explained Didier Froehly to BFMTV. Inside, “we have the two gladiators left. And in the main box we find the two journalists who make the memories, who launch the themes raised, etc. It gets better,” estimates the director.

Who will be right? who will be on the left The two candidates will be placed by drawing lots the day before at Arcom. Two other draws are also planned: one to determine which of the two will speak first, the other to allocate boxes of essentially the same size. “For all political debates there is a draw. All duels are subject to these fairly simple rules of arbitration, as emphasized in any game western france Laurent Guimier, Information Director of France Télévisions.

Limitation of the section planes

Another change: the cutaways. Debate organizers and campaign teams consulted beforehand to better control cutaways that show one candidate while the other speaks. Only those who keep the candidate’s gaze on his opponent are allowed.

The RN insisted on this provision after the 2017 debate. Five years ago on TF1, cutaways of Emmanuel Macron speaking did not show Marine Le Pen to his advantage. Above all, the viewers had been able to observe how he got lost in his files.

“I do it like in the kitchen: light and without seasoning,” director Didier Froehly laughs over our antenna, “that means if someone speaks, I stay with him (…) The cutting plans are distributed. Reactions are not fished for. It will be from time to time. Because we’re here to highlight the background that each candidate expresses.

These cutting plans are counted. And there will be as many per candidate.

Supervision reigns supreme in management

Around the director, two representatives of the candidates will control the images of the debate. This is to ensure that their foals are treated equally. By 2017, the frigid atmosphere surrounding these famous cutting plans had almost degenerated. This year it’s former LCI journalist who went to the RN, Philippe Ballard, who plays the role of Advisor-Director for Marine Le Pen. After its performance in 2017, the RN preferred not to repeat the experience with director Tristan Carné (Cesar’s 2021 ceremony).

Director Jérôme Revon was chosen to be in charge alongside Emmanuel Macron. The latter has already excelled in conducting the Macron meeting at La Défense Arena and that of Marseille on Saturday.

This debate promises to be busy to see if that convinces the French to check it out. In 2017, 16.4 million viewers watched the debate between the two rounds. Either the worst audience in the Fifth Republic for such a debate.

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