Paris is always a good idea... or rather the kitsch version of " Paris the City of Love". That was how it started. Completely innocent, just as a cool idea. However turning a so called cool idea into something tangible took a lot more than just talking.
Last week I directed a fictional short in Paris which was also by far my largest undertaking up to date. Close to a year of pre-production and still there were more things that could be done to make it better. You just need to fix the date, otherwise you will always find a reason not to do it. One confusing night I read an article from teacher / filmmaker Chris Jones that said you never put yourself out there if you are not 100% ready. I felt that that was great advice. That same night I read something about Richard Branson that said you are never ready, you just go for it. Well, those 2 opinions could not be further apart. You be the judge, but I took the latter to heart.
Shooting official in a foreign country is no small affair. First of all you need a good production person. You would think that that could be pretty straight forward... but it’s not an easy one. There are so many aspects of permission which I did not anticipate. Approval from the city of Paris. All kinds of insurances. Getting Power permission. Generator’s noise. Breakerboxes. Permission for camera movement. Lights……. And everything cost money. Document after document. Actor agreements. Travel tickets. Accommodation. Transport. Film equipment rental. Export and Import documents from country to country …… just to name a few. I was just so thankful that we had a solid script since this aspect of production kills all kinds of creativity.
One of the many tips I can give is to go and do your own location scouting. Although Paris is kind of far and in the beginning it feels like a waste of time and money, you learn so much about the shoot and can save yourself a fortune by negotiating directly with every party involved.
The film was structured around three long night shoots to maximize production value. This looks great on camera but it’s tuff on everybody to work at night and sleep during the day. The first stage took a crew of ten 28 hours to make it happen. One of my friends told me that if he let his colleagues work more than 10 hours the police come to lock him up. Somehow with a spectacular food chef the vibe stayed positive all night long and although the police threatened time and time again to close us down, grace kept the camera rolling and ensured for eye watering performances. That’s another something to take note of. If people eat well... they don’t care about not sleeping and working long hours.
I am forever grateful for an outstanding crew of extra ordinary people that wanted to make this project personal and through their commitment it became a reality. Thank you all very very much. Looking forward to share more on the project in the next few months.