Advice for those looking to film en francais
1. Lighten your load: It is a mistake to think foreign productions need to pack their own heavy material. That master shot of the Eiffel Tower can be facilitated by one of France’s Louma cranes, capable of reaching heights of up to 70 meters (230 feet).
2. They do things differently in France: In France, where trade union laws are not so prohibitive, helping out is the name of the game.
3. Culture vultures: Under French law, making a film has as much artistic merit as writing a book, and the crew all feel equally implicated in the artistic process. So don’t be surprised if a lowly grip asks to read the script.
4. Scale down if you can: Most picturesque villages and towns in France were built long before the car was invented. Streets can be very narrow (8 feet wide).
5. Organize well in advance: The makers of “The Da Vinci Code” had few problems parking 60 trucks in the center of Paris after notifying shopkeepers, local businesses, etc. well ahead of time.
6. A wealth of diversity: There are so many buildings, palaces, chateaux, homes, rivers and canals to choose from in France, it’s a good idea to call Film France, the French Film Commission, for a break-down of what’s out there.
7. Open for business all year round: The big myth about filmmaking in France is that there is no one around in the biz to work in the month of August. This is no longer the case, if it ever was.
8. Don’t think you can come with a suitcase of cash: Everything is done by the book.
9. Don’t jump the gun: It’s never a good idea to sign a locked-in contract with the owner of a property until you have the go-ahead from the relevant police commissariat.
10. Roadwork watch: Check out parisfilm.fr for a regular update of places in Paris where you cannot film (“lieux deconseilles”) because of road works or other disturbances.