Q and A with PICTURE PARIS Filmmaker Brad Hall
How would you describe Picture Paris to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?
PICTURE PARIS is a short film about the difficulty of life’s transitions. It’s full of little surprises that I don’t want to spoil, but it’s the story of an ordinary mom who, when her son goes off to college, is terrified by the question, “What now?” So, she puts all of her emotional energy into a romantic trip-of-a-lifetime to Paris with her husband. She becomes consumed with cheese, and wine, and croissant. It’s all Paris, all the time. Then things go a little haywire and Paris isn’t at all what she pictured, because nothing ever is quite what we picture it will be, is it? We all desire what Paris promises -- transcendent passion and beauty -- but do we get these things in real life? More important, it was a hell of a good excuse to work with my wife and go to France.
Why did you decide to tackle this subject in a short film?
I like the compressed nature of the story telling. There aren’t any subplots, and the story is very compact. Because it’s only a half an hour long, the plot’s twists and turns fall all over each other, which is just a ton of fun.
What’s it like to work with your wife Julia Louis-Dreyfus in the lead role?
It’s dreamy, of course. Because people are so used to Julia being funny on TV, I think they’ll be amazed to see her play this character who has a very complicated inner life. She’s still funny, but she’s also completely authentic and establishes a believably vulnerable character fast. Also, I believe a director should always be sleeping with the leading actress because then, when you have a good idea in the middle of the night, you can wake her up and tell her right there in bed before you forget it.
Was it fun to shoot in Paris?
A blast. Our American and French crews got along famously, and every day in Paris was thrilling. We shot at the Louvre, on the Seine, in the Metro, in secret spots and at famous landmarks. Our French crew really love the cinema. For example, our driver Jean-Paul is real film scholar and a talented filmmaker in his own right. We miss them all and can’t wait to go back. And it’s easy to make pretty pictures in Paris.
The film has some very good French actors. How did you cast the film?
We started with Julia, then casting director Linda Lowy, who is also a great pal, helped us put together a cast of old friends like D.W Moffett and Rachael Harris and Tom Virtue, and new friends like Grégory Fitoussi who is a rising star in France and such a thoughtful, wonderful actor. The biggest coup was when our superb producer Julie Snyder got us in touch with Éric Elmosnino who had just won the César award in France for his performance in Gainsbourg, vie héroïque. When he came on board we really couldn’t believe our bonne chance.