This is a longer post. There are pictures down below, pharm so there’s a reward in getting through it. Unless you cheat and just scroll down without reading anything… I suppose I can’t stop you from doing that.
When Kevin Clark and I decided in January to try to make a feature film in one month, rx we decided it would be an exercise in having fun and completing something without a lot of hassle. When the film ended up practically executing itself with all the ingredients falling into place, we realized we actually had something decent on our hands. The resulting rough cut made us realize that, with another trip, we could alter the ending to better suit the film and insert a secondary storyline to help develop the main character a bit. It seemed totally worth it, considering the entire production budget was lower than we could have ever hoped for during the first month of production. This blog post wouldn’t exist had we not actually bought a couple more plane tickets and started PARIS FILM (still no title…): ROUND 2!
I went out a week before Kevin for a few reasons: Among them were shooting a promotional video for my friend Jonathan’s painting and sculpture opening up in Normandie (link to that little video here), setting up casting for our new secondary storyline supporting actress, and just needing a break from LA life for a bit. The art opening provided the slap in the face needed to get back into France mode and interacting with French people. It’s not all that different from dealing with American people, but I still find it to be a bit more personal… in a good way. By the time I boarded a train home, only 48 hours after arriving in Paris to begin with, to the studio / production base in Gentilly, I was ready to get started on casting. We needed an older woman to play a free-spirity type and act as some kind of weird mentor for the main character in about five scenes. Every audition I had set up from the states turned out to be better than I expected, so it was not an easy decision. Especially when, by myself, I tend to make the auditions last an hour just in the coffee / tea-sipping conversation about the story behind our film, the lives of each actress, and my life and aspirations with the Fulbright in France.
Leaving each audition feeling like I have a new best friend makes it a lot harder to choose one candidate, but we did and it was Françoise Rigal (see her wikipedia page here, if you can read French) who got the part. She attended the same school, Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique (arguably the most prestigious drama school in France), as our lead actress, Barbara Probst. She had a super young spirit and was completely into joining our crazy production. I’m always worried about people’s willingness to put up with odd shooting hours, an occasionally run-and-gun style of production, and our tendency to be completely personal (which some see as “unprofessional”) on set, but Françoise made me feel at ease when our meeting to look over her wardrobe turned into her picking up Kevin, Clay, and me to make us dinner and drink wine for a few hours at her house… which became one of our new shooting locations. Gotta love how this stuff all works out.
Kevin arrived the day before production started, so he had to get over jetlag in less than 24 hours to begin shooting. My brother, Clay, reprised his role as sound man / 2nd AC for the shoot, but arrived the day AFTER production began. This means that, for the first day and a half of shooting, I was directing, DPing, and running sound with no assistance. It was less than ideal and there are pictures to prove it, I’m sure. Clay’s arrival brought great relief. We spent a lot of our time exhausted, and just when we thought we had a morning to rest between shooting the new ending and shooting the secondary story, we discovered Kevin had brought a quad copter with him……
The quad copter was a blast… we spent an afternoon in a big park where we couldn’t break anything or injure anyone to see who could grasp operating it the fastest. I won, I guess, because I was nominated as the one who would be flying this thing around the city, just feet away from 600-year-old churches, without damaging anything or getting in trouble. Our first “day off” involved waking up before the sun to get some arial shots of the city as the sun rose. We went out two mornings in a row to see what kind of footage we could get. If anyone ever wondered how high one of those things can get, the answer is AT LEAST to the second floor of the eiffel tower. I was rather shocked… and equally shocked when the copter survived a turbulent crash from roughly that height.
An attempted fly-by of ourselves failed when the battery died. You can see us casually jump for our lives to survive the crash here: Crash
The rest of the production was long and difficult, but we got through the public crowds, the noise, and the unpredictable weather. I won’t bore you with all of the details. Kevin went home the day after we finished shooting, leaving me with Clay to walk around the city for a few days to take shots with my old Graflex camera, collect some B Roll of Paris on the RED, go on a bicycle tour of the city’s many arcades etc. We happened to be out and a bout for the fireworks of Nuit Blanche, an all-night art festival spread across the whole city that only happens once per year. Let’s just get to the good part, the pictures:
I cannot wait to hand off all this new footage to Sean Barney (www.cameocontent.com), our new editor on the project, so that we can finally put the film together and show everyone who donated their time, energy and hearts into this project that their efforts were not for nothing. I also cannot wait to share it all with you at some point next year.