Make Your Village A Star!
RendezVous Films is producing a romantic comedy feature film called Kiss the Frog in which an American businesswoman falls in love with a French farmer. Most of the story takes place in a tiny and remote village in the South of France and production will begin in April. Now they just need to find the village.
Writer/director Kevin Dole describes Kiss the Frog as "my love letter to France." He and his family have been here many times and their experiences inspired the story. Kevin believes there are hundreds - maybe thousands - of villages which would work but since he can only choose one, it has to be perfect. So he's spreading the word and asking for help.
The ideal village will be small and historic with a remote, isolated feel. It needs to have a small square for a farmers' market and a village festival. Its houses should be mostly stone and be maison mitoyennes, sharing common walls. It can be anywhere in the south: from the Italian border down through Languedoc-Roussillon to the foothills of the Pyrénées.
But Kevin and the producers are looking for more than just a pretty face. They'll ultimately choose the village based not just on what's best for the film but on how the production might benefit the community as well.
"I want to find a village with a compelling story so that the project, the making of the film, takes on even more meaning," he says. "I know there were villages devastated by terrible windstorms a couple years ago; others which have suffered from declines in the wine industry. I know some have lost so many of their young people to the city that they're almost ghost towns. I want to find one which is both ideal for the film AND which, by being chosen, might be revitalized--which is exactly what happens in our story. A location scout rarely has the time to learn the story of the places they photograph. Only the residents can tell us this."
Kevin tells me that the production pledges to:
- Hire as many local services as possible.
- Hire as many local workers as possible.
- Credit and promote the village as the film's location, if desired.
- Care for the village and leave it in the same or better condition.
Logistical requirements are: roads accessible by trucks and buses, accommodations nearby for a cast and crew of up to 100 people and residents who'll welcome the disruption and excitement of production for 8-10 weeks.
"The village of my dreams should have character and charm which inspires the devotion of its residents but may not be apparent to casual visitors," Kevin adds. "The level of restoration is unimportant. We're not making a superficial ‘postcard' of France, but rather offering a glimpse of its heart, disguised within a comédie romantique."
If you live in or know of the perfect village, please click here and fill out the research form in French, if possible. (The page includes directions for sending photos and you can click the link "Retour" for a descriptive page, also in French.) Alternatively, you can email Kevin directly with your suggestions. RendezVous Films is seeking village nominations until January 1, 2011.
Julie Mautner is an American food, wine and travel writer who has lived in St. Remy de Provence, on and off, for 12 years. In addition to writing for NYTimes.com, Travel & Leisure, TheAtlantic.com, Food Arts and many other magazines and websites, she produces the very popular blog ProvencePost.com. Her first book, The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook: Recipes and Behind-the-Scenes Stories from America's Hottest Chefs (co-authored with Lee Schrager), will be published later this month by Random House/Clarkson Potter (New York).