Monday, September 23, 2013

Mauvais Temps

My blog is running about a week behind the actual filming of the movie version of The Hundred Foot Journey in St. Antonin. Last week was to be the taping of the big market scene but the weather was just not cooperating.

After what had been a beautiful first day of shooting the week before, suddenly the temperature dropped & the heavens opened.

All of the props were in place & ready to go for the planned Monday morning shoot, but heavy rain called a stop to production. Everything had to be quickly covered and protected.

The rest of the week remained chilly, grey & overcast with on & off drizzling rain. However, a big production like this is on a tight schedule & cannot let the weather get in the way.

Sunny or not the show must go on. The dollies, cameras, & other film equipment were rolled out & the filming got underway.

With the proper lighting & the magic of cinema a grey day can become a picture of colorful warmth & sunshine.

While the camera crew stayed warm in heavy jackets the actors shivered in their light weight costumes.

Many of the figurants or extras bundled up in coats & blankets while waiting on the sidelines for their entrance.

Unfortunately the sun never did come out. They kept taping though & by the end of the week the market scene was a wrap. The camera assistant carried the last canisters of film to be shipped for processing.

The funny thing is that this weekend the sun came out & we were back to summer like temperatures. All next week is to continue to be the same. And what were the set crew busy doing on Saturday?

Why setting up hoses & sprinklers on the tops of all the buildings in the square. For what you might ask? Well to simulate rain of course. Ah the magic of cinema!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

And Action

Luckily bystanders were fortunate to be able to watch the whole filming process from a short distance away. There are no photos allowed durning shooting of course but here are a few that I took between takes.

The extras or figurants as they are called in French are dressed, ready & waiting.

I loved this group of locals (below) waiting for their cue. The man in the green hat to the right is the assistant director.

Om Puri, a well known Indian actor plays the part of the father & head of the Hajj clan.

Here the three older Hajj siblings discuss their parts. I am afraid I do not know the actors names other than Manish Dayal, who plays the principle Hassan Hajj & who is on the left.

Here are the two young actors who will be the youngest Hajj siblings.

Watching a feature film being shot can sometimes seem like a lot of milling around.

The same scene is shot over & over again. Below Manish Dayal & Lasse Hallstrom wait for the next take.

The scene begins as the Hajj bother & sister exit the blue car to go to the café. So back into the car they go to do it one more time.

Below Lasse Hallstrom in a pensive moment.

All of this repetition can be very monotonous & tiring. I was really impressed how well all the locals who were chosen as extras stood up to the task. You can see the men in the cafe look quite convincing & ready to roll.

It is not only the extras that might find it tiring. Seasoned actors as well can find it tedious. Below Manish Dayal has a big yawn as he waits for yet one more take after a long day of shooting.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Day 1

The equipment is moved in.

It is amazing how much there is .....

........& how quickly & precisely it all is maneuvered in & placed.

Crowds gather to watch.

Cameras are hoisted.

The director, Lasse Hallstrom, sits in his chair watching the projection on his screen.

The cameraman that I met with his lovely wife & daughters earlier this summer is poised & ready too.

Camera! Lights!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Getting Ready

A little unassuming bistro has become the pretty Café Rouge.

With minutely detailed plans & the tools of the trade the last minute touches in set decoration are underway.

In no time at all a restaurant has become a book store.

And another storefront is transformed into a Droguerie shop, a sort of French hardware store.

Last minuet arranging is underway in a quaint new yarn shop.

Leaves are added to an old arbor to add charm & soften the look of the café, now called Café de la Place rather than Café de l'Halle.

New "old" chairs complete the picture at the once dusty little café.

The Chocolterie is stocked & ready to go.

It seems that St. Antonin is a film set waiting for its big moment to happen.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Book

I downloaded The Hundred Foot Journey onto my iPad as soon as I could after learning about the film & I finally got around to finishing it this past weekend. It was a quick read, enjoyable, yes. I generally favor nonfiction to fiction so I am not the best of critics. This may explain why I found the plot somewhat weak & implausible, but this of course is just me. I also thought it hard to tell just what genre the novel takes, weather comedy or drama. It is definitely a culinary tale so I guess you could call it a "culinary comedy/drama" as I saw one reviewer refer to it.

My real interest in reading the book was to see how it would translate into a film. It was by the author's own admission written with the idea of a film in mind. Richard Morais wrote his novel as an homage to his late friend Ismail Merchant, the noted film producer & partner in Merchant Ivory Productions. Morais had hoped that his novel would prove to be a joint venture, a tribute to their shared love of cooking & fine dinning. Sadly Merchant's untimely death would prevent that.

The novel delves into the the politics & cutthroat competitive nature of the Michelin star system. It is peppered with culinary tidbits from the tastes & smells of simple country fare to the richest of French haut cuisine. I would have to say that I found the colorful & spicy references to the exotic Indian culinary offerings more enticing than the descriptions of the over the top French indulgences. It will be interesting to see just how all of this talk of food will be recreated onto film.

I am really pretty intrigued to see just how this novel will eventually become a film, especially a film set in southwest France. The first thing that one notices in reading the book is that it is in fact set in the Alps on the boarder of Switzerland & France in the Jura region. St. Antonin is resting in a valley beneath high white cliffs but these cliffs are by no means mountains. So it looks like we will just have to wait & see. If the film makers wanted my opinion I would suggest that the action be reversed. I would begin the film where the novel ended & flash back to the beginning creating to my mind a more climactic
ending. But so far no one has asked me.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Transforming St. Antonin

Well, the work has begun, preparing St. Antonin for her grand debut. It certainly has been interesting watching this process unfold.

Although The One Hundred Foot Journey is a film with a contemporary timeline, not all of St. Antonine's businesses give the quaint appearance that the film is looking for.

In front of modern plate glass windows, artificial storefronts are being constructed & installed.

Built of plywood & in some cases heavy duty styrofoam these false facades give a completely new appearance. You would never know that this is the same boring insurance agency.

Once installed, the painting crew take over to complete the transformation. With the use of faux painting techniques & trompe l'œil these basic structures become believable aged stones etc.

Et voila! The ugly office is now Le Poste, while next door the café bar is in the process of becoming une Chocolaterie.

Being a painter myself, I am especially fascinated by these painting tricks & how authentic they look even at close rang.

There is activity all around the square. It is so much fun & exciting to watch.

My husband, who is a builder by trade, is most intrigued by the trucks fitted out as high tech craftsman ateliers.

He is especially enamored by the high quality tools ( all the high end Festool brand ) & the efficient little tool carts that roll the tools from job to job.

Everywhere you look the town of St. Antonin is getting a facelift & it is most enjoyable to watch it happen.

Even the white plastic pipes are being given a faux finish so that they will blend in with the old stone walls.

By the way it seems all the painting crew are women & I can't help wishing that I could be a "paint chick" too.

Happy weekend everyone!