The romantic Paris documentary you can be a part of

paris documentary filmmaker

NYC Filmmaker Andrew Shemin is drawing upon his experiences of living abroad in Paris to create a documentary that promises to reveal a unique, cultural experience in a series of beautifully shot sequences.

Paris is after all the romantic destination for millions of tourists each year and what better way to celebrate the city’s beauty by capturing its most romantic hotspots along with its blend of elegance on film. Shemin has turned to Kickstarter after shooting his documentary to get financing to get a composer to work on the soundtrack and make this a truly memorable experience. Discover an inside look at Andrew’s filmmaking process in Paris and what he hopes to share with audiences around the world.

Postcards from Paris documentary trailer

Interview with Andrew Shemin

Iain: What is it about Paris that draws you to the city?

Andrew: Paris is a uniquely beautiful city in the world. I don’t really know any other place of this size that puts such an emphasis on keeping the city beautiful. For me, it makes a difference to see a beautiful city outside my window rather than a dull, modern apartmentscape. This conservation of its beauty can make it a bit museum-like, but at the same time, it is always innovating new urban amenities, like the Velib’ bike-renting service, and now a new automatic car-renting service that should reduce pollution and traffic. There are ups and down to life in Paris, but what keeps drawing me to it is a mystery, and that’s part of why I made this film.

paris documentary film

Iain: Why did you decide to shoot a documentary in the form of a video slideshow?

Andrew: I like simplicity in filmmaking. This video slide-show technique recalls the simplest films, the first films by the Lumière brothers in 1895. They planted their primitive cameras on tripods and shot off 50-second reels of film of the life before them, and at the time, people were blown away by seeing moving images reproduced for them on the screen. I think that the later development of editing, camera movements, and so on are great. But I feel like filmmaking is so technique-heavy nowadays that you can actually stand out and make yourself heard by doing the opposite: a slow rhythm of images that require the audience to slow their minds down and contemplate in a different way from the fast films we are watching in the theatres, and the quick clips on the Internet. In the end, I want to make an immersive experience in Paris with this film, so I think the slow pace of a video slideshow lets the viewer relax and look all over the screen to absorb information and make connections between shots that you might miss if the editing was too fast. It’s more like the pace of people watching in a given place, and that can be a very imaginative activity, especially somewhere like Paris.

Iain: Who inspired your filmmaking style and is there a particular film that gave you ideas on how to shoot this?

Andrew: My fascination with the Lumière brothers was a major inspiration. Also, I love old photographs where you can just absorb details and use your imagination to go much deeper than what the photo is showing you. The experimental film, ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, gave me the idea that you can shoot a documentary without any text, any commentary, and still keep it interesting. And in fact, you can do things that ordinary talking films can’t do. In order to make that work, a good musical score is really important, though.

Iain: How can people get involved to help you out?

Andrew: Crowdfunding is the wave of the future in indie film finance and we are crowdfunding this film on Kickstarter in order to get the funds for a great musical score. People can go to our page and contribute to the film. Every dollar helps! If just half of your Film Industry Network gave one dollar, we’d have the post-production funded! In return, the way Kickstarter works is that everyone who contributes gets some kind of reward from the film. We are offering pre-orders on the final DVD. and other surprises from Paris. They can make a great gift for friends who love Paris. Besides supporting our Kickstarter page, and sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter, I’d be interested to hear from possible collaborators. If this film works well in Paris, it could be interesting to try the same approach to filming other locations. I’d like to do New York, for example, or the American West.

paris documentary film

Iain: What did you shoot on, and how did you approach the production?

Andrew: I shot on a Canon 550D. It is a DSLR camera and is very discreet. Most people don’t even realize that such a small camera can shoot HD footage. My plan of attack for the production was just to go out as many days as I could this past summer, and shoot in different neighborhoods. It was a kind of anthropologist’s approach. Trying to get a wide variety of neighborhoods, activities, and atmospheres. Of course I couldn’t shoot everything. There’s too much going on in a busy city of millions. So I stuck to a few themes that I found interesting. But for the most part, I let scenes surprise me. Lots of unplanned things happened that I think are really enriching for the film. Things that you could never make happen in a documentary where you plan your images. Lots of surprises for me, and I think they will translate to surprises for the audience as well.

Iain: Do you have any other film projects in motion?

Andrew: Yes, I’m currently working on music videos for the American rock band, The Hounds Below:

Music video Hounds Below at SXSW 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49HvuvgSqK4

My first video with them was quite well liked, so we’re going to make some more with the same characters. I have other film ideas I’ve been working on, but we’ll see where this documentary leads me in the months to come and what I’ll be able to do with my time.

Check out Andrew’s Kickstarter project here and get involved today

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