This is partly an account of the amazing things that happened over the past three weeks, but mostly a massive thank you to those who were involved:
On March 17th, I booked a ticket with writer / actor Kevin Clark from LA to NY to Paris for departure only two and a half weeks later. We decided to shoot an independent feature film with three weeks of prep and three weeks of travel / production. For crew, my brother, a photographer in San Francisco, came to run sound and serve as some kind of assistant. The three of us, armed with my small-yet-reliable network of friends in Paris, completed not only a feature, but a companion short film as well. We shot 14 total days in locations ranging from the amazingly-lit streets of the Marais to the Pere Lachaise cemetery to Jonathan’s amazing artist studio in Gentilly, filled with sculptures, a 150-year old lithographic press, a real human skeleton and painted canvases up to 3 meters long. We created an art gallery in the Cité Universitaire’s Fondation des Étas Unis, we shot all over the city in shops, cafes, over canals, under monuments and in parks. The entire city felt like it was our set and we found quite a few of its inhabitants to be part of our cast. As I sit on a train, cruising under the English channel for the final stop of my trip (some decompression time with a great friend), all I can think about is “how the hell did this actually happen and get finished?”
The answer is easy, but it still blows my mind: friendship and generosity. Kevin and I had this crazy idea to make something while our other film in LA is on hiatus but never knew what to actually expect:
-I wasn’t expecting my brother, Clay to fly to Paris from SF for the entire shoot to be there helping for every moment for absolutely nothing in return. Nor was I expecting my friend Nadia to train down from London to help as a script supervisor for five days of shooting.
-I certainly wasn’t expecting Jonathan Shimony to offer me his entire studio for cast and crew to basically take over for two and a half weeks. I wasn’t expecting him to allow us to use all of his work as the work of our lead actress in the film either, or setting up a private gallery for us to shoot a scene in.
-I wasn’t expecting Michèle Catillon, someone I sparked a friendship with in the last FEW DAYS of my months in Paris last summer, to power through the entire shoot, finding us locations and setting up casting and just generally making sure everything was happening smoothly.
-I wasn’t expecting that, thanks to Michèle, we would discover someone as wonderful as Barbara Probst, a young French actress who not only put up with the whirlwind nature of a film shot more or less on a whim, but raised the spirits of the entire crew and basically sang her way through every day no matter how long or last-minute.
-I wasn’t expecting Fleur and Jerome to allow me to use their music in the film, but come to the studio and record instrumental versions of anything I wanted with the offer to do even more later. They even spent an afternoon with us to play as street musicians in a scene.
The list of favors is so long that I can’t even come close to thanking everyone for what they have done. I haven’t even touched on all the resources we pulled in New York like musician Matt Fazzi playing a small role and some friends of Kevin’s donating their mansion and Rolls Royce for two days of shooting.
All I can say is that regardless of how the actual film turns out, going through this process with Kevin, Michele, Clay and Barbara with the aid of amazing people like Jonathan, Fleur, Jerome, Nadia and everyone who donated their stores and spaces and acting services even if they weren’t actors is without a doubt the thing in my life I am most proud of pulling off. If it could just help Jonathan sell a few extra paintings, Fleur and Jerome spread their music to the US, and Barbara get another leading role in a film, I feel I’ve been successful in my efforts.
Thank you, everyone. Really…