By Nicola Rose
This is Part 1 of a two-part series by Nicola Rose on filming her short film, Creative Block aka Bloc et Blocage, in Paris, France. Check back net week for Part 2.
6 A.M. The day starts with the sounding of my alarm, an evil presence I have long since learned to ignore. But today is no ordinary day. I am in Paris, France, and it’s the first day of shooting for my short film, Creative Block. Sure, I only arrived last night and have enough jet lag to fell a walrus, but no matter. There’s no time to lose: it’s 6 A.M.! Time to get up!
6:48 A.M.: Get up.
6:49 A.M.: Plod semi-consciously downstairs and eat French cereal, which is globally recognized as the nectar of the gods, only better. This perks me up a bit.
6:59-7:00 A.M.: Intensive professional preparation.
Nicola Rose (with balloons) and director Veronique N. Doumbe (All photos ©Arnaud Galy)
8:00 A.M.: I arrive at the metro stop Passy, chosen because it features a beautiful view of France’s most iconic and pointiest monument, the Eiffel Tower. There I am met by our exemplary production team, including talented director (and NYWIFT member) Veronique N. Doumbe, production assistant Nolwenn Lallart, and set photographer Arnaud Galy. Our goal today is both simple and complex. Simple, because all we have to do is shoot a silent montage of my character wandering around Paris. Complex, because we only have one brief window today to do it right before we all head to other places, projects and obligations. So time is tight and pressure high. As an actor, my goal is to forget about this; as a producer, my first priority is to remember it.
We begin by shooting multiple takes of me walking past the Eiffel Tower with a bouquet of balloons. In the film, the balloons are practically characters, so I keep a supply of extras in my backpack in case they pop. It occurs to me this is what all producers should do: keep a supply of extra actors in your bag in case, for example, you step on one and it pops. This is probably a strange thought. Sue me; I have jet lag.
9:00 A.M.: We arrive at the Boulevard Saint-Michel, home to my favorite bookstore, which is our next location. (We are filming only outside the store, as we don’t have permission to do so inside.) Remarkably, this is the only place anybody gets pissed off by our unobtrusive little crew – a rarity in a place where, although I love it with all my soul, getting pissed off about nothing is practically a national sport. A few tourist-types call attention to us by admiring the balloons. This causes an employee, working outside, to huff in French, “I am NOT in accord with you being here.” I feel like the correct response is, “I’m not in accord with YOU being here,” but I hold my tongue. Besides, being the film ninjas we are, we are already done. As the French say: badda-bing, badda-boom.
10:30 AM: Our next stop is the Luxembourg Gardens, named for the fact that somebody forgot what country they were in. Here, we are joined briefly by a sweet-looking, older gentleman who peacefully watches our filming for several minutes before heading on his way. I don’t know what brought him there or took him away, but I sort of wished I could somehow make him a character in the film. Also at the gardens, there is an incident where I refuse to give my balloons to a very insistent small child. We exchange heated words over the matter. I win, but it is not my proudest moment.
End of Part 1. In Part 2, coming next week, I’ll cover several more important topics, including our encounter with the police, what kind of dog I get most easily distracted by, and some cool French filming words you should know. À bientôt! (= See you soon!)
And support the film’s IndieGogo campaign! Donate online by January 21st to help Nicola & team cover the costs of the New York part of the production.