Wes Anderson filmed his latest movie The French Dispatch in the French town of Angoulême. We heard about it in December and, as big Wes Anderson fans, we booked our train tickets right away. We had to wait for the kid’s school holidays though so we couldn’t travel before February. It was so special to check out the French Dispatch filming locations and walk through the streets where they had been filming. A bit like a real life scavenger hunt!
Everything is still top secret but what is known until now, is that the story will take place in France (between 1946 and 1975?). We will be following some American journalists living and working in France. They might be living in Paris but some whisper it will take place in a fictional town called Ennui-sur-Blasé.
The French Dispatch has a star-studded cast. We will see Timothée Chalamet, Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Alex Lawther, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartsman and French actors Léa Seydoux, Cécile de France, Mathieu Amalric and many more. Maybe Kate Winslet, Willem Dafoe and Saoirse Ronan as well. Not sure about that. [update Oct 2021: Elisabeth Moss played the part instead of Kate Winslet]
Spotted Wes Anderson!
While we were in town, we read in the newspaper that Bill Murray had been spotted at the golf course of Angoulême the day before but we did not see him. We were so lucky to be able to watch director Wes Anderson direct a scene. It was supercool! I wanted to see Adrien Brody and my youngest wanted to see Owen Wilson but no luck there 🙂
We did see one of the actors though. My oldest son and my daughter did speak to him but as he told them it was ‘top secret’, they do not want to disclose which actor we met until they finished filming (!!). I can tell you that they were incredibly happy meeting him though. He’s one of their favorite actors.
The French Dispatch filming locations
The filming in Angoulême should be finished around the 15th of March. It was cool to see some of the sets that had been recreated in town. They filmed on the streets of Angoulême but also in a studio not very far, in the village of Gond-Pontouvre. When we left, they were still building one of the film sets, rue du Sauvage. It was so cool to see the decor change so extremely fast and really become something within a few days!
When we watched one of the scenes being filmed, it was interesting to see how fast they left the scene after it was finished. The old cars, the fake pavement, everything was gone within 20 minutes! It was fun to see so many details on the streets, vans with ‘TFD productions’, security at street corners, etc..
The French Dispatch has had the largest budget ever for a foreign movie in France. I read here that 27 million Euros were invested in France, 8 million going to the Charente, the region of Angoulême.
It is quite something for a small town like that. For example they used one of the hotels there privately for about 4 months. They also used lots of old cars, fake snow, built decors, rented technicians, extra’s, security etc etc… so the whole thing was very positive for Angoulême and its region.
I was surprised to see that they were not really (m)any fans trying to watch the filming. One could get really close. We could hear Wes Anderson talking when they were filming. My daughter wants to be a director and Wes is her big inspiration so this was extremely special for her.
We sat there during the whole take and when it finished, my daughter told me that if she still had any hesitations about the choice of her study, all the doubts now were gone. So that’s a good thing. Thanks Wes 😉
Unfortunately they filmed mostly indoors in the town hall and the building opposite it on the last two days of our stay so eventhough we could walk in front of the two buildings, we couldn’t really see much.
It was an amazing experience all together and we can’t wait to see The French Dispatch and recognize the filming locations.
Beautiful historic town
On another note, Angoulême is a gorgeous historic fortified town, it really is beautiful. I had been there as a kid so I did not remember a lot about it except that I was spooked out at the time.
Now, so many years later, I understood why. Some spots in town are completely empty, kind of a ghosttown vibe to it plus the old buildings and churches and towers have that creepy feel but it’s very very beautiful. I understand 100% that Wes Anderson decided to shoot here.
Follow the last days
So we’re back in Holland now but if you would like to follow the filming and sets back in Angoulême, check the Instagram account of Sébastien Fauconnet. He lives there and posts what he sees on a regular base.
Update: the set they were building when we left is finished and it looks great. There are shops and cafés and again loads of old cars
Update 2: This afternoon there was a pic of actor Timothée Chalamet, a mystery woman in black and a woman (looks like Frances McDormand) rehearsing on the set. So I guess, as he has been spotted a few times during the last days, I can now say that the actor my kids talked to when we were in Angoulême indeed was Thimothée Chalamet. So you get that they went all crazy 😉
After that, we’ll just have to wait for the release of The French Dispatch in 2020! Are you a Wes Anderson fan? What is your favorite Wes movie?
Update Oct. 2021: The French Dispatch is finally in the cinemas!!