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Elisabeth


Elisabeth Bartlett is blogging the festival scene from Cannes to Los Angeles.
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PRESTIGE INGREDIENTS

 

Adrian and Danielle Rubi-Dentzel are living a life I admire. The pair moved to Paris, started a food blog (www.thetrailofcrumbs.com), which got them noticed by illustrious Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" team, who they worked with and hit it off, then were inspired to make their own movie and poached Bourdain's DP Ethan Mills, raised money on kickstarter, and made it happen. I caught the friendly couple at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in January where they were premiering the short film: PRESTIGE INGREDIENTS. 

"We started a blog because our friends were asking us too many goddamn times what to do in Paris," said Adrian with a laugh. "So Danielle started this blog about what we do and then it kinda became its own thing."

"My family is from the Swiss Alps and when my father moved to California he started one of the first real cheese and wine stores in the area, so I grew up around a lot of that," said Danielle.

Featuring Alia Shawkat, PRESTIGE INGREDIENTS is the story of an actress who travels to Paris for a gig that is...nontraditional. I won't give any spoilers. It's subtle, simple, artful, mysterious and funny. "The film is a time capsule of our time in Paris," said Adrian. "How we produced it, and the world we showed, it’s very much a story of an American in Paris."

On the Ideas Behind the Movie

"He wrote it, but I relate to it because 15 years ago I moved to Paris on a whim on my own," said wife Danielle. "I didn’t know anybody. And I had to kind of learn a different way of life. People there are quite sophisticated and there's an awkwardness, cultural differences, and it's kind of about coming out above it all and being very confident at the end." 

The short is in one way a love affair with food, clearly created by two foodies. "Paris is known to have gone through a [food] renaissance recently. It's always been very steep in tradition: duck confit, white table clothes, but things are starting to shift," explained Danielle. "People are starting to make things a little lighter, a little more fresh, there's a little more imagination, but using the same very good ingredients. So we were there at a very exciting time. There are a lot of newer generation chefs that are kind of outing that old world-ness." 

"But that’s where they were trained," said Adrian. "So they have the skills of the old world chefs but they’re kind of more influenced by more casual settings like New York and California...But they have the french produce and the french training. And that kind of keeps it a certain level."

"In France there's more acceptance of art, a lighter touch, more plating, a cheese course at end of meal, with only cheeses from the local area. Whenever you travel people are always proud to show you so much just from their little micro region. All the chefs I’ve mentioned are featured in cameos throughout the film," said Danielle. 

It is fun to watch the film knowing that Adrian and Danielle used what resources they had access to while creating it. Adrian makes beautiful handmade furniture, and a lot of his clients are bars and restaurants. Since he already had their respect as a tradesman, they trusted him when it came to being apart of the film. "When it came to making our movie, we had established such real friendships with people. One chef had studied acting when he was young. And at a party someone introduced us to the Jack Black of France and he said I love 'Arrested Development.'" The money the two raised went to airbnbs, gear, and shooting. The post production was paid for out of pocket. "We also had a lot of people working for free because they liked us." It's both not surprising and also reassuring that Adrian and Danielle were able to get far just on friendship. I had a lot of fun talking to them.

On What the Experience of Filmmaking Taught Them

I asked them what they learned from working with Bourdain's team. "We learned that all chefs are control freaks and very, very hard workers. We learned a lot about producing. Shooting in peoples restaurants and homes, you do what you can to make people comfortable by listening to them. Make them interested in what you’re doing, and then they’re willing and happy to be involved."

Danielle: "There was some tension with Bourdain crew because from a New York perspective, time is money. 'We've got to do this this this... French people don’t care so much. They want to take their time, they’re [the restauranteers] already fully booked every night anyway. The producers wanted a specific table that had good light and said, Can we pay those people to move?'  The manager was super offended at that idea and said, 'we would never ask a guest to move a table. They’re having a nice time eating a meal, we would never ask them.' We had kinda adopted the french way and we were in this cultural divide. We were very versed in the cultural differences and tried to kinda create a seamless thing."

Adrian: "In the Burgundy episode, the final episode of first season of "No Reservations", we saw how a perfect shoot went down. By working together, letting cameramen rest, having good meals, being nice to your talent and hosts."

"Directing is super hard," said Danielle. "And I really respect people that have been doing this for a long time."

"To direct fiction you can’t produce and direct at the same time," said Adrian. "We put a lot on our plates for Prestige Ingredients, and I think next time it will be one or the other. Write and direct, but not produce and direct because we can’t be fielding everyones questions while we’re trying to be creative and dial in a very specific thing." 

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About Elisabeth

Bartlett Elisabeth
Blogging about the festival scene from Los Angeles

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