Friday, October 14, 2005

Stand And Deliver ...

‘A Market Economy’ maybe one thing, but a blatant attempt to hold someone to ransom in return for free advertising, is quite another. Let me explain …

In order to get permission to film for television or shoot stills, it requires that letters are written or faxes are sent to various organisations, requesting permission to film/shoot or, if something is to be done at one's leisure, to be ‘included on the press list’. Naturally, I include my credentials, my French Government-issued press card. This is the norm. It works well and I have yet to be refused. National Museums are (on the whole) delighted to be able to help accommodate any professional requests. It is common for them to supply a ‘representative’ who will follow me around, freely chatting and explaining anything that needs explaining. Very useful if you need to go back as you have now a ‘contact’ for the future.

During the winter months, not a great deal happens on the aviation front. The heavy grey skies are often leaking water at a tremendous rate, so not ideal for outdoor work. Some magazines are rather keen on close-up, detailed images of valuable, rare aircraft in hangers or national museums. Full-page colour images with the name of the institution clearly marked.

So with that in mind, I wrote a charming letter to the newly appointed Director of a certain large national aerospace museum, north of Paris. He is, I hasten to add, known personally by some of my other professional acquaintances. These ’acquaintances’ made it perfectly clear that I should include their names in the letter and that the Director loves the press and would do anything to get his museum free publicity.

A week later, a reply dropped into my letterbox from the press department of said museum. Indeed, they would be delighted if I were to pop up and crawl all over their machines. Wonderful! Good news. However, I would have to pay 912,55 Euros for the privilege.

Excuse me?

6 aircraft in full page colour images, in 6 individual editions of the magazine?

For free?

I scratch your back and you mug me in broad daylight for 912,55 Euros?

Despite my immediate wish to go up there, armed with some colourful language, I decided to ask a few French journalists about the stance taken by the museum. “Zey are crazee”, they said, shrugging their shoulders in that ‘Gaullist’ fashion.

Upon reflection, I believe that the letter never made it to the Director and was banjaxed by a secretary who passed it straight onto the press department. I shall pursue down another avenue and report back …

'Never look a gift horse in the mouth' … unless you’re a French museum, when your natural reaction would be to kill it and serve it on a plate with some greens.




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