On the set, the crew is not used to being as collegial as American crews are. So, when we were palling around with them, they were sort of surprised that’s how we worked. But boy, they were knowledgable about movies. It was a young crew and everyone was very happy to pitch in and work longer hours. Once you get down to making the movie, it was very collaborative. I’m not sure how that’s how it works most of the time there.
JLD: It was nice to take those long, leisurely lunch and dinner breaks with three courses. Everyone was used to it. But now I’m used to it, which is a problem now that I’m home. From a production value, just forget about it. Setting up a camera, do we shoot in front of Notre Dame or over there next to the Arc de Triomphe? It was just a delicious display of set design.
Did you do extensive location scouting or did everything go out the window once you got there?
BH: We went there and scouted a little bit before. When we scheduled the movie, we had a couple days where we just thought that we’d go out and get what we could on the street because there’s a lot of permitting things that are complicated. We wound up saying that if they kicked us out, they kicked us out. We got a van and just ran around as much as we could. In June, it’s crowded with tourists, so there were a lot of logistical things to overcome, but none of that matters once you start rolling.
JLD: We were working with a very capable French producer while we were there. That was incredibly beneficial. She had done due diligence before we arrived. We caught stuff on the fly in the subway or wherever we happened to be.
Were there places where you felt you had to cut back, working with a limited budget?
BH: It wasn’t a big-budget movie, so we didn’t have a Steadicam all day every day, so there were a few little equipment things. Also, we were limited in terms of the schedule because France is such an expensive place. But really, we got what we needed. We were ambitious, but realistic. Julie Snyder, our producer was great. She was very careful to say, “You won’t get that, so let’s make a different plan.” Sometimes we’d even get the things we never thought we’d get.
We had a hilarious day of not knowing what we could shoot. We were shooting in the Luxembourg Garden, an unbelievably beautiful place, but very strictly controlled. In the end, we ended up with my two favorite shots in the movie. We were told we couldn’t film in front of the Federal Senate. We stumbled into it and the police said, “Put your camera right here. You can shoot here.”
JLD: They said, “You have 10 minutes.” It was all very strange because we didn’t quite know what the rules were.
Were there any surprises that you discovered about shooting in LA, even though you both have plenty of experience working there in the past?
JLD: We had friends who let us take over their house in Woodland Hills. What was endearing and gratifying to me was how many different people we knew who were ready to take this leap with us. Redesigning that house or making sets in the house on a dime or for nothing. There were people that I’ve worked with on big-budget movies and television who were all of a sudden intrigued by the script and the adventure of this nutty short film that was going to France. Everyone leapt on board this train from a creative point of view. I wouldn’t say it was surprising, but it was very lovely. At the risk of sounding pollyannaish, it was a great reminder of why we do what we do.
If you were to do something longer with a bigger commitment, do you think you’d get the same reaction?
JLD: I’ll let you know. [chuckles]
BH: I suspect we would because we all had a better time than we thought we would. I hope that all the people who worked on this would be happy to do it again. The truth of the matter is that it’s not much less work to do a short than it is to do a feature. Particularly when you’re running around different countries. I think the next time out, we’ll do a feature, but if we came across an idea that was better served as a short, we would make a short.
JLD: Maybe we’d have a little bit more money to pay everyone.
BH: Yeah. Got any money on you?