Saturday, November 05, 2005

And Not A Lot Of People Know That ...

For those of you who follow this blog, will remember that on October 14th I wrote an item entitled 'Stand And Deliver'. It concerned a certain Parisian museum who expected to be paid €912 (£615) in exchange for free publicity worth several thousand. The piece finished with the line "I shall pursue down another avenue and report back".

I did and here it is;

Despite loving this country, it does put people to the test - locals and visitors alike. It’s archaic system (thanks to the diminutive Monsieur Bonapart) means that to get anything done means you have to argue, push and cajole. It’s own sense of being is outdated and difficult, it's functionaries are well adept at posturing and argument.

As a professional photojournalist, I had requested a day's shoot in an aviation museum, north of the capital. The museum has a large number of rare and beautiful aircraft, of which six, I had earmarked for a 2-page colour spread in the UK's most popular aviation magazine. One aircraft per edition. The editor of the magazine was delighted to hear my news as photographer, Dan Patterson, was doing the same in the USA. 'An Eye For Detail', as the article is called, was originally Dan’s idea but he isn't Europe-based.

The letter I wrote to the museum explained in great detail what I wished to do and where the images would be published. Their reply was simply outrageous as they demanded €912 for the facility. Rule 1; you don’t charge card-carrying journalists to publicise your exhibits.

Not content at this attempt at professional mugging, I got my head down, researched some fact and figures and went to introduce myself to the Director of the museum.

Monsieur le Directeur had organised The Festival Of Transport which runs for 3 days in the rebuilt Grand Palais in the heart of Paris. A stunning glass building which, in November 1938, held the Paris Airshow. In recent years it was closed due falling glass panels, but after careful restoration, it reopened in September 2005 - €80m over budget.

I found Monsieur le Directeur at the top of some steps leading to the conference rooms and, lifting my index finger, he registered my intent for discussion. He came bounding down the steps, a full smile and a firm(ish) handshake. The Great Man was now standing in front of me and I was looking down at … looking down at … “I‘m standing in front of a Napoleon look-a-like!” He’s tiny. His suit is one single crease and his unkempt hair gives the impression that there’s been an explosion inside his head.

I figured that I didn’t have long as he’s a busy man but he smiled as I introduced myself and explained that we had mutual friends. Explaining the letter I had written and the reply received, his face slowly changed into one of concern. From out of my camera bag I produced a copy of the magazine and indicated Dan Patterson’s fine imagery. He glanced. Then came the posturing as his open palms appeared at shoulder level, "Look", he said "everyone charges journalists and that‘s our policy too".

No. Only you.

Right, I’m loosing him, he’s backing off. Time for the counter-argument.

I explained that no museum has ever charged me. The Louvre, Musee d'Orsay. No-one. I informed him that neither the 'Smithsonian' in Washington D.C., nor the 'Imperial War' in London or France's 'La Ferte Alais has requested any form of payment from journalists in exchange for publicity. You could see from his disbelief that he thought I was lying. However, I have letters and emails from museums stating that they do not charge professionals but I thought it bad form to confront him with such paperwork so soon.

Breaking into a trot, he disappeared, waving his hands "Merci et au revoir …"

The Maginot mind. Great.

"And f**k you very much too …", I smiled back with gritted teeth.

It’s not over yet. I’ll write to him again and I’ll spell out the following;

* The magazine for which I work, has a monthly circulation of 35,537 which is 15,537 more that France’s own favourite.
* Should an organisation or and advertiser wish to take the same 2-page space in the magazine, then they would expect to receive a bill for € 2 837,90 per edition. In effect, I am offering the Museum free publicity in 6 editions to the value of € 17 027,40.
* I shall enclose a copy of letters and emails from other museums.
* Would he please tell me who has actually paid the €912.
* There’s a chateau just outside Paris which you can hire for a day to shoot a porn movie - and they only charge €800.

More posturing and arguing to come. This one isn’t going to get away …



Anonymous T7 said...

What's that castle you're talking about...? :O)

Saturday, November 05, 2005 9:46:00 am  
Blogger Stu said...

That information will cost you €912 ... cash only.

Saturday, November 05, 2005 11:01:00 am  

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