Friday, February 19, 2010
Although I knew early on that I wanted to make films, it didn't happen right away. I took film courses where I learned (from the heads of the cinematography and sound departments at CBS Cinema Center) how to make films, but not how to get to make them. When I asked my mentor back then, Paul Stanley, what was the best preparation for being a filmmaker, he responded by saying, "Live a full life". I followed his advice to a far greater degree than ever he would have imagined.
When I finally found the path, I moved to Paris to begin my career. I wanted to make the kind of films that came from France. For my first project, I had in mind doing a pseudo documentary about an artist who painted on the Place du Tertre in Montmartre. The style and tone was inspired by the Woody Allen film Take the Money And Run. I found an investor and began making my plans and engaging the actors with whom I wanted to work. A few days before we were to begin shooting, the investor fell out--he spent his money elsewhere on an impulsive spending spree. This eventuality wasn't covered in film school, needless to say.
That evening, upon returning to my apartment, I received a call from someone asking if I was still looking for an investor for my project. Yes I was, I told him. And so it was that the project went unfunded for only a few hours before returning to viability once again.
Before I could begin shooting, I was obliged to visit the Préfecture de Police to obtain a shooting permit. This entailed sitting across from a dour policeman while he read the entire script. He didn't smile--let alone laugh--once. When he was finished, he told me the mayor of Montmartre would not approve of the scenes where the gypsies pickpocket the tourists. I suggested that they should be more concerned with stopping the gypsies than obstructing filmmakers. He did not take my suggestion to heart. In fact, he demonstrated his disapproval by forbidding me to use actors or block traffic in any way. All I could do was to shoot stock footage and that, effectively, killed the project.
When I finally looked at the paperwork the policeman had issued me, I saw that the first page was the standard shooting permit. The second page had all of his restrictive stipulations. Guess which one I threw in the trash! I took my actors and blocked traffic in Montmartre with abandon for the next week.
The course of my life involved a number of shipwrecks the result of which things were lost at sea--and so it was with Montmartre. The finished master was gone and it was only a week or so ago that remnants in the form of some clips washed ashore. I have cut them down to just under ten minutes so they'll fit on YouTube and offer them to you here: