Tombé sur la Tete” was this TV movie for French television I acted in a bit part last Autumn/Winter 2009. I got the local Brussels TV Guide this week and saw it was premiering on local TV on Sunday afternoon. Never a good sign.
In fact, this magazine I get had a wretched review in it (French only):
Worse, it doesn’t mention me. But then, I’m having problems with the Belgian production company over payment, so maybe I’m being punished for not being easily exploited (yep, worker’s rights fights on!). The film was shown today, as I write, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, in Belgium (never a good sign, like a major film going straight to DVD), from 14:35.
Tomorrow (March 22) the French are broadcasting it on TF1, their Big Deal commercial channel, at 20:45. Here’s the official listing: I’ll record that one and judge how wonderful I am, in my bit part.
I got the gig through a casting call. One of the few times the director wanted to see me back (usually I get the job straight off or never hear back). He was worried about my French, I had to speak French, and he wanted heavily accented French from an English speaker and I told him I was his guy.
It was a full day’s shooting, in Brussels, but acting as though we were in Paris — cheaper here to shoot in Belgium, tax breaks.
The main actress, who I did not know, was Michéle Bernier. We chatted some, she tried out her okay English on me. I was playing her art dealer in the movie, who encouraged her during lack of sales. Only when we ventured out and people came up to her throughout the day to ask for autographs did I understand she was a big deal outside my limited universe of French TV stars.
One of the reasons I quit television in Hollywood at the beginning of my adulthood was due to the hurry-up-and-wait that is all films. Yet, even though or because we were working on a low budget, things clicked along.
Here’s one of the make-up spaces:
The changing rooms were very make-shift. In fact, they were large cardboard strips propped up. Here’s the wide view of the three “rooms”:
And here’s the seat to sit and change upon!
There was lots and lots of stuff to run a few short scenes, as always.
And even more lots and lots of stuff … trucks full….
Here’s the view from “my gallery” to the crew across the street for a long shot (establishing shot).
The crew, across the street, waiting for the word “Action”. The director is the only one seated, of course!
Hot shot camera.
SNACKS!!! Yum-yum in a yuck-yuck sort of way….
Above, the floor manager managing the extras who had to walk back and forth at precise moments. Below, cars passed by, but with French license plates:
During a break, I had been eying a guy brown bagging and sucking on a bottle, watching from a distance. For some reason, he picked me to come over and audition. He came over to me and without preamble, began shouting some decent though slurry opera at me. I had the camera in my hand and took photos without him knowing it.
When he completed his aria, he bowed and walked, weaving, off.
At the end of the day, I got this shot of myself, actress-star Michèle Bernier, and director Didier Albert.
Some people like to know this sort of thing: Michèle was as kind, natural and unpretentious as could be; most of my scenes were with her, and there wasn’t the touch of diva about her. A professional doing her job, and wanting to do it right.
The director, I was told, had been difficult and impatient, and had been yelling some during previous days. He did not raise his voice to me. After the shoot, the production assistant, who I knew from another movie (still in post-production — lots of special effects) told me, “You had him eating out of your hand.” Whatever. He kept smiling and encouraging and liking what I did. Just corrected my French some.
A few months later, I had to go up to Paris to dub in one sentence that the director wanted clearer, and record a new voice mail necessary for a plot point. Here’s the outside of the post-production studio.
In there (below), through those doors and down.
Here we are, under the ground, in the studio, some offices, a door leading to the dubbing studio (I spent too many young years in such places and they creep me out if I stay there too long).
Here’s the dubbing studio. The screen, the microphones, the recording board. There’s a line of dialogue that goes along the bottom edge of the screen, and you say the words as they hit the end line to get the lip motion right.
Over over my shoulder (above).
This is one of me, standing at the microphone, ready to do my dubbing (photo taken by the director, Didier Albert, who spontaneously offered. I smart-assed him, asking whether he had any experience with cameras and framing).
Everyone was satisfied, except, it seems, the reviewer at the top of this blog…