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Archive for July 8th, 2008

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Precisely 23 years ago*, I was asked to write a script for the European arm of the medical supply company I worked for. Come to think of it, this may be the first corporate video script I ever wrote.  That was exciting, but even more exciting was the notion that they were going to fly our crew over to bounce all over Europe shooting the video. I remember being amazed that it was actually cheaper for them to do this than to hire a video crew in the next town. With today’s dollar, I imagine it’s even more affordable.

So we blasted off for a whirlwind 8-day video shoot in France, Germany and Austria. What follows is an excerpt of the account I wrote for the ITVA Newsletter.  Please note: I was anti-French long before it was cool. Freedom Fries, indeed!

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Where does your big trip begin? In the Crown Room, of course! All the bourbon, Eagle snacks and Larry King you can handle–on the house! Sure, they tell you not to drink on the flight, but they’re just trying to save complimentary booze.

Actually, the smartest thing to do is try to build in an extra day if you can. Leaving home on a Friday night for a Monday morning shoot seems to work well. Yes, your company has to pay for the extra night. But if you work for a huge faceless institution, like I do, you’ll be surprised how quickly the guilt fades.

Next stop…Orly International Airport, Paris. Orly will instantly remind you of the Dayton airport, circa 1969, with its linoleum floors, hard plastic chairs, and people who haven’t bathed since 1969. Or, think of the Cincinnati Greyhound bus terminal, only with planes, automatic weapons and an equally incomprehensible public address system.

Now, dash for your connector…time is short! Grab your 300lbs of gear and kung fu your way across the most crowded, aggressive terminal known to man, Kennedy Airport included. Of course, at JFK you could leave the jostling to a hardened union skycap, but those don’t exist over there. Wheel up to the check-in desk, and have your wallet ready. You’re about to pay the Tariff on Baggage in Excess of 75 kilos, otherwise known as the 700-franc Spank. Good news is that’s only 150 bucks, and they take AmEx.

As for the local folk, its sad to say that the stereotype is largely true…these folks would rather smash you in the face with a baguette than admit they speak English. And, after two trips I can promise you that a working knowledge of conversational French isn’t going to kick in all of a sudden. So, invest five bucks in a phrasebook. They’re all pretty good, but I especially like the Rough Guide phrasebook. It’s about 20 percent hipper than the rest.

Quick Tip: Often, timing makes a world of difference. One thing that made the French leg of the trip run more smoothly, and the French folk perhaps 5% more accommodating, was that I arrived there on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. So, do that. It works!

Next Stop: Germany. Wie gehts, baby?

(* For my readers in the far-off year of 2017, I am referring to the summer of 1994.)

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