As folks who follow the BVC blog know, I’m having an adventure.
My novel The Moon and the Sun is being made into a movie. Producer Bill Mechanic invited me to visit the production while it filmed at Versailles, France, with unprecedented access to the chateau de Versailles.
The chateau was the site of the 17th-century court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. It’s designed to overwhelm visitors with the power and gloire of the king.
Hall of Mirrors. The Chapel. The gardens of the chateau.
The movie is going to be beautiful.
One thing about a movie production: There’s a lot more going on than filming. There’s dressing the set, setting up the cameras, rehearsal. Moving tons of equipment around safely in a national treasure filled with priceless artwork.
This results in some standing-around time for anyone without a specific task. My privilege was to observe — I described it to myself as “sitting in a corner, invisible, being vewwy vewwy quiet.”
But I wasn’t invisible. I was welcomed enthusiastically and with many compliments about the story by everyone I met. As a result, even this classic introvert felt comfortable chatting with a number of members of the production — producers, director, cast members, musicians, the composer, the script supervisor, the IT folks, security. And several people’s mums, all of whom were charming and proud and fun to talk to. As my visit progressed, I got a little bit bolder about talking to people and even asking if I could take their picture.
Waiting for his scene, an actor stood nearby in a dashing costume—plainer than the court costumes but every bit as elegant.
And including a sword, which most of the costumes didn’t use. The swordmistress kept very close track of the swords.
Every so often I’m compelled to emit a bit of research:
At the court of Louis XIV, ordinary people could approach the king and ask for his help or intervention. But in order to be in the king’s presence, one had to be properly dressed.
Proper dress included a sword, but most ordinary people didn’t own swords. So outside the gates of the chateau, one could go to a booth, rent a potmetal sword for the day, put it on, and be properly dressed to approach the king.
Charming France-based British actor Phillip Schurer was the man in the striking Musketeer costume, including sword. We chatted about his current and future parts — his next role is as an archaeologist in a French television series — and I worked up the nerve to ask him if I might take his picture. He agreed, and conscripted a passerby to take our picture together.
I’m a courtesy 5’1″ and barely came up to his shoulder.
“Should we sit down?” he asked gallantly.
But the picture would be better if we stayed standing.
“I’m used to being short,” I said.
I don’t often get to have my picture taken with a Musketeer.