dimanche 2 septembre 2012

The 2012 / 2013 French James Bond TV doc that never was . Or ' Never trust a Network Executive ... '

Folks , this is a rather sad story , so if you're looking for a rose tainted , gold paved road story please pass your way ok ?

It all started as way back as 2002 just after the French tranmission of my special James Bond reports shot at Stoke Park for T.P.S , a Satellite channel ( part of the TF1 media group ) which had sent us there to cover 007 40th Anniversary in style .
With all the famous Bond people I managed to meet and interview while there , I thought to myself «  it's ridiculous , we've got more than 3 hrs of footage and only 5 mms of it has been used . I've got to find a way to produce something worth of that exclusive material … ».
The Bond fever of the day passed , and I keep calling various people in the Biz' to see if I could find a Production company interested into a James Bond documentary which will cover not only the film incarnation of the character but also pay hommage to his creator , delve a little bit into Danjaq's real business , and offer some original P.o.vs from various people connected to the James Bond universe .

I sent – litterally – a hundred of emails ( note to my 007 friends around the World  : deep apologies for having pestered you for such a long time with that project of mine ) .

And got , well, 99% of negative answers in return . Usual reasons ? «  Too expensive » , «  No new Bond film this year » , « Impossible to get clips from MGM »,etc. ,etc.

Until … April 2012 . I then got a positive return from an Executive producer of a French Production company , who insisted to see me «  to discuss the idea » . Whoohooo !

That first meeting went rather well . We talked on general matters , and I already insisted on the necessity of shooting in Great Britain ( mainly at the Beaulieu Car museum , the Barbican and various places of interests ) .
The Lady executive was charming , and even a tad too enthusiastic about the Documentary project : «  we simply HAVE to get at least one James Bond in our movie » she kept on telling me .
Knowing that , out of the six official incarnations of 007 , three at least would be impossible to get ( mainly Ms Connery, Brosnan and Craig ) , I tried to temper her , arguing that we could have plenty of other guests amongst actors , technicians , writers and such .
But the Lady was adamant : «  we-need-a-James-Bond to sell our program to a network  ».

Fortunately , it happened that the Cameraman who was assigned to work with me on the project had some way to get an ITW ( or so … He said . Turned out it wasn't true at all in the end ! ) with Sir Roger Moore while the man would be in Paris for promoting his upcoming Bond book in early october .

Everything seems to be quite fine then , and I embarked onto Cannes – where my Cameraman was supposed to join me later - , willing to get there the Bond girls Eon was to send there for an exclusive ' Bond 50' Croisette hommage .

Mind you , at this time , no Money matter had been discussed at all . This was some sort of ' pre-production ' work and I naively thought that the subject would be decently approached when the official start date of the British shooting would have been finalized . Stupid of me …

Cannes was a disaster . Not only did the Cameraman simply refused to take any images of the Bond stuff ( for a good reason : he was there to work for France Television – of which he was an employee, and didn't want to work for free without any contract . And hadn't been clearly briefed by the Paris Production team about my needs on the Croisette ) , but the highlight of the Eon Cannes event – mainly an outdoor beach screening of some Bond movies introduced by some past and future Bond girls themselves turned out to be a mish mash , poorly organized thing . Add to this that the very day when Martine Beswick, Carole Bouquet and Bérénice Marlowe were to introduce the nightly screening , rain started to pour on the Croisette , instantly transforming the Outdoor Screening Beach into some kind of swamp . Hastily , the Cannes execs tried to re-schedule the night event into the Palais des Festivals , putting stickers here and there to alert the Press and the medias alike ( «  Stickers ! » . They had our own mobile phone numbers , and no one thought of simply TEXTING us journalists about the change of plan ???? ) .

So I simply … Missed the indoor event .
Complained about it the very next day to the head of Cannes Ciné-Classic section and then learnt that Eon has been very ' difficult ' to deal with when arranging this Bond retrospective event in Cannes indeed . Won't elaborate ,but it seems the marriage between Cannes and Eon wasn't a happy one I can tell you that .

Anyway , back to Paris I then started to ask my Production about the proposed dates of shooting in England .

During my absence , work had been done indeed . But not necesseraly in the good direction . For instance , some naive Production assistant asked the Barbican if our future crew could possibly REMOVE some items from their plexiglass cubicles , to be able to casually handle them while filming took place. They even suggested the Shooting crew to come to the Museum the day after the official ending of the exhibition so that we could indeed attend the packing of the objects ( due to be sent to the States then ) - and then perhaps … Grab some stuff for close-ups shots and such .

Was horrified when I learnt that – and that's exactly the moment an alarm ring started to drill furiously in my head .
Uh oh , these people are supposed to be TV professionnals and they are not aware of the value of the items exhibited in the Barbican ?
Come on …

Anyway , we were then by the end of June . Everyone going on holidays – including the main Lady Producer who purposefully avoided to answer any of my email dealing with salary request . Strange , eh ?

By mid August I was feeling completely disgusted . Numerous assistants had tried to cajole me to email various people ( on the ground that their own English wasn't good enough ! ) , ranging from the Burbank based MGM section dealing with movie clips buyings , to Mrs Lucy Fleming from the Ian Fleming Publication cie ( a contact I had stupidly given them ) ...

Fully aware that I had indeed put a foot into a nest of ( utterly stupid ) bees , I flatly refused - each time sending back only four words ( «  Where-IS-My-Contract ? » ) and slowly tried to cautiously disengage myself from the whole operation .

Ah , forgot to mention that , before departing for her much earned holidays in the Sun , the Lady Producer had finally decided that the UK shooting would take place by the … Beginning of September .
2012 was therefore lost for a French airing date , and she casually told me : «  oh , we will try to sell it to coincide with the DvD release of Skyfall then. Don't worry .. » .
Fact that 2012 was indeed the 50th Anniversary date of the James Bond film series seems completely oblivious to her .
Sigh .

Being fortunately embarked onto other ventures , I didn't even protest , knowing full well by now that only one issue would finally come out of all this : cancellation of the whole project , sooner or later …

And that's exactly what happened – only 3 days before we were actually to transport ourselves to England . Got a charming phone-call of the Lady Producer telling me in a sugar-coated voice that «  we have to abort the whole UK shooting schedule – AND ' put on Ice ' the whole Documentary project as well . But have no fear , we still want to do a filmed ITW of Roger Moore in Paris ( for which precise purpose , that I'm still wondering ! ) AND we will try to sell the project to Canal + early next year . So please stay with us , Kevin .. » .

My answer was as cool as an icecube dropped into a Vodka Martini : «  Don't count on my participation anymore . I will personnaly warn all the people you contacted on my ground that the production is truly dead – in case you tried to tell them something else » .

And I've never heard from those people again …

Paris , september the 3rd of 2012 .

N.B : promo clip was devised by a friend of mine - and in no way the official product of the Production company involved , nor any French Television networks . In short : made just for Fun . 

N.N.B : my most profound apologies to all the people and organizations contacted in the line of duty for that still born Documentary venture . But , as someone once said , ' Never Say Never Again ' ...

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