The film Eiffel by Mathieu Bourboulon and supported by Paris Region is exceptional in more ways than one: Having rebuilt part of the famous architect's tower, this French super production was one of the film productions that had been stopped by the first lockdown and that successfully applied the health protocol developed by the Cinematographic and Audiovisual Health and Safety Committees (CCHSCT) to finalize its filming.
Film Paris Region helped the producer, Vanessa van Zuylen (VVZ Production, L'insensé) during this period.
Having just completed his collaboration on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel is at the peak of his career. The French government wanted him to create something spectacular for the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris, but Eiffel was only interested in the metro project. Everything changed when he ran into his childhood sweetheart once again. Their forbidden relationship inspired him to change the skyline of Paris forever.
Adapting the filming to the sanitary context
The filming of Mathieu Bourboulon's movie came to a halt after 8 weeks in March 2020. The resumption was made possible thanks to the adaptability of all the professions involved: Costumes, make-up, production, all the staff had to reinvent their workstations in order to respect government guidelines: Taking the temperature of the people entering the film area, gloves, masks and hand sanitizer were mandatory, as well as the rotation of the teams during the catering service in the dressing rooms. Cleaning was reinforced and was done daily for props, costumes, and all the film equipment.
Following the recommendations of the CCHSCT and Film Paris Region, the production hired a COVID advisor in order to streamline the work. François Hamel, production manager, estimated the cost of the resumption, which required additional days of preparation, the hiring of additional personnel and the purchase of specific materials, at an average of 300,000 euros.
Take a look behind the scenes of the resumption
L'info en vrai report from March 2020 produced with the help of Film Paris Region
The Château de Vaugien : an exceptional location in the Yvelines
The Château de Vaugien hosted the filming of Eiffel at the time of the first lockdown and during the resumption. Thanks to an experienced and passionate team, this unique location in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse has been hosting productions for almost twenty years.
Manager Jacquelin de La Rochefoucauld explains how the château has reinvented itself:
On April 2, 2004, Patrice Chéreau knocked on the door of the château and asked me if I would agree to direct all of his next film in this place that he found so special and so rich with its many different settings.
The film Gabrielle by Patrice Chéreau, starring Isabelle Huppert and Pascal Greggory, was filmed entirely at the Château de Vaugien and, after being selected for the Venice Film Festival and nominated in various categories of the 2005 Césars, it won the César Award for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design.
At the end of the filming, I remembered something Patrice Chéreau said:
"If you leave your château the way it is now, you'll get a lot more film productions..."
Thanks to him, the Château de Vaugien began a new life... That of a natural location near Paris (less than 20 km from the Pont de Sèvres) which, over time, has adapted to receive directors and productions with the greatest of ease.
Since 2004, the Château's commercial activities have been entirely geared towards hosting film productions.
At first, this new activity required making the location known among directors, production designers, assistant directors and even production managers.
There are plenty of advantages:
- A large number of different sets in the same location (significant savings for staging and production)
- The close distance to Paris, whatever the traffic, and the close distance to the RER B train station (savings on the technical teams' expenses)
- Easy accommodation and parking for a very large number of technical trucks without prior authorization.
- The provision of space for the canteen and all the production.
- The provision of a person from the Vaugien estate for the duration of the filming, a person who ensures that everything runs smoothly and who responds to the requests of the production team and the director.
- Support for the electronic, machinist and design managers so that they can work on the set with complete peace of mind.
All these provisions have allowed for the reception of all kinds of productions for almost 20 years, from the smallest short films from film schools (EICAR, La FEMIS, ESRA, etc.) to big American or French blockbusters such as The Transporter and Eiffel.