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Ernie Zahn

Guerilla Filming in Paris

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I'd love some feedback on this.

 

Does anyone know what the general sense is of filming guerilla in Paris?

 

Would I be able to have a full rig with me let's say on Pont Neuf or in front of Notre Same without getting hassled if my team is around 4 people using a clearly non-tourist camera?

 

Or should I save the rig for more discreet locales and stick with something smaller for the higher profile places?

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No idea about Paris. I recently shot for a feature in Delhi guerrilla style. I had to even keep away the tripod. Shot completely handheld without any rig with the C300. At several places had to say that it is a stills camera. It is becoming increasingly tough to shoot in this manner due to all the security paranoia.

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I just wrapped productuon on a feature shot mostly in Paris where we did exactly this with a crew of 3 including myself and two actors, five people total. We went and shot scenes at every major landmark in Paris on a fully decked out Arri 416 plus. The funny thing is, people have such a specific sense of what a "movie camera" is that we really only got noticed when the matte box was on.

 

No trouble shooting two scenes in the interior of the Eiffel Tower itself, got by security with the camera broken down into separate pieces and shot handheld without a tripod. We got lucky though as there's renovations going on right now so lots of barriers up that kept most of the tourists away from the areas we shot. We literally were able to make it look like the actors were the only people in the Eiffel Tower for one scene.

 

Had big trouble at jardin du Tuileries near the louvre. Security on us within ten seconds of us pulling out the camera. They were nice though and let us shoot the scene only a short distance away from the main fountain as long as we were "discreet" so I shot handheld without the matte box and hid the back end of the camera inside an empty backpack.

 

Only other trouble was the police stopped us in front of notre dame and told us to stop but there were so many people that we simply waited 15 minutes and came back and finished anyway.

 

Successful shoot without any trouble otherwise outside the louvre, under the Eiffel Tower, at the Arc, the Champs Élysées, inside two train stations, even at Charles de Gaulle airport if you can believe it.

 

Mind you, I pulled all of this off with an Arri 416 which is the epitome of "movie camera" looking equipment in non film people's eyes when the matte box is on. We turned a lot of heads and many people thought we were shooting 35mm. If it had been something like a 5D or a black magic camera I doubt we'd have been noticed at all.

 

I'm processing the negative at Arane Gulliver lab, by the way, which is full of great people who love working with film still.

 

So, it can be done. My advice is, if you can avoid the matte box you'll turn fewer heads to your attention.

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I should also add that our lead actress speaks French as a first language and her sweet talking went a long way with getting around the security and police we did run into. I doubt we could have done the same by telling them in English.

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