Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Around Town ~ ... somewhere outside Paris deep in the countryside...

[This entry is re-editted  from my Photographic Sketchpad blog]

Working with creative people here in France has opened up into being an incredible experience.

Sometime I would like to write about how and why creative expression is so different in France from what it is in the US.  I couldn't imagine the impact of the Catholic Church and the Ancien Regime on modern culture and creative expression, but I've learned a few things from talking with people that illuminate the topic well.  For this post suffice it to say that once I gained access to the artistic community, finding subjects eager to work with me has become a lot easier.

I am forever grateful to Arthur Morgan for personally introducing me an amazing group of people.  After our work was published in Fiction #19 (France) my association with M. Morgan gave me an all important Stamp of Credibility.  There's a French word for this.  I need to ask a friend to remind me what it is.

Recently, a friend of a costume artist I'd work with contacted me with the suggestion that we shoot in an old abandoned chateau.  How quick to you think I was to reply "hell yes!!!"?  Indeed.  I was very excited to be involved in the project.

We plotted and planned.  The project coordinator wrote in excellent English.  The model had a few interesting costuming ideas.  The makeup artist turned out to be someone we'd worked with.  Her boyfriend was interested in lending a hand on the project too.  Jude, my wife, was thrilled to come along after looking at a few images of the location.

On the day of the shoot we had several inauspicious events.  Jude bumped her head against a cabinet door that I'd left open.  The weather was to turn sour during our prime shoot time.  The chateau turned out to be at least an hour out of Paris by donkey cart or TGV.  I was unhappy to leave Jude behind but she needed to rest after her accident.

I kissed Jude goodbye and met Niko (aka: Project Coordinator and Abandoned Building Safety Officer) at his waiting donkey that was standing in front of our apartment building.  Into the saddlebags/boot/trunk (depending on which side of the Pond you live) went all the camera gear required to make serious photo-shoot many miles from home.

Just outside of town we could see a huge black cloud that stretched from horizon to horizon.  From time to time the sky lit bright with streaks of lightning.  The god Poseidon had risen from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.  Things did not look good.

Passing through the first wall of water was unlike anything I'd ever experienced.  We couldn't see the road.  We couldn't see any of the cars around us.  We swore we could see salmon trying to swim up-stream.  We didn't like the fact that it was August and these kinds of things Just Don't Happen pendant les conges annuels.  The drenching went on for far too long.

Eventually the Big Black Cloud finished having it's way with us and decided to move on to Paris to give everyone behind us an Equal Opportunity Drenching.  The Big Black Cloud would trap the model, the MUA (make-up artist), and her boyfriend just as they were leaving Paris.  It produced a enormous embouchon (traffic jam).

To me it was instantly obvious what needed to be done while awaiting the arrival of the rest of the team.  Exploring the site we learned from a man who used to live on the property (20 years ago) that the chateau had been sold and would be torn down in the next couple weeks.  Knowing this gave me a strong reason to get as much of it "on film" as I could.  It would be the first and last time I ever visited this most amazing place.

After working a couple hours with the model and team we packed up and headed back into town.  Greeting us over the Normandy horizon was the last of this year's Supermoons.  La lune hung in the evening sky guiding us back into Paris.

Abandoned Places ~ Fenetre Ouverte

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