Not so long ago, I was talking about the notoriety of Reunion to someone at the IRT – that’s the Reunion Island Tourism Board. I believe we need to do something radical to put the island on the world map, and I told him I thought we needed to be more ambitious, saying: ‘if you look at the celebrities who come here to promote the island, they’re usually only famous in France. People like handball player Jackson Richardson, actress Josiane Balasko and for big events like the Sakifo Music Festival, the headline acts are singers like M and Mano Chao – hardly big names on the world stage.’
‘Fair enough’, he said, ‘but we don’t have the budget to bring U2 or Madonna, do we? What do you have in mind?’
I said: ‘What about having part of a James Bond movie filmed here? That would be amazing!’
He burst out laughing, and said ‘Ok James, I challenge you – you go and bring James Bond to Reunion!’
So that evening, I got started. I was taking this seriously! Obviously, I wasn’t going to be able to call up Daniel Craig and say ‘hi Daniel, will you come to my party please?’, but I went online, found the name of the location scout who had worked on Skyfall, googled him and discovered that he lives in the south west of England and that he’s a surfer. My brother-in-law also lives in the south west of England, and is also a surfer. I called him up, and he knew the guy! Within a week, we had chatted on the phone and, after a lot of persuading, he finally came to Reunion, his packed 7 day trip organised by the IRT and the Agence Film Reunion. We saw the whole island, including a magic helicopter ride.
The objective was to wow him with Reunion’s stunning natural sights so that maybe, one day, he would bring a film crew back here to film part of a blockbuster.
The first part was definitely successful – he loved it here. As far as the second part goes, the IRT were contacted about a year later by the people who were working on the latest Bond film, Spectre. Apparently they were looking for scenery with savanna and colonial houses, which we have, but not in the same place. Better luck next time.
Anyway, time will tell. This location scout really was blown away by the scenery here, especially the valley of Takamaka and the Forêt de Bélouve. As we ventured through the undergrowth, he said ‘oh, it’s such a shame I didn’t come here one year ago – there’s a new film I’m working on: they would have LOVED this place!’
‘What film is it?’ we asked.
‘I can’t tell you, I’m afraid. I’ve signed a secrecy contract.’
‘Come on man, what film is it?’
He said nothing, but held his two fists in front of him, as if he were carrying a sword, and said ‘jjjjjjjjjiinnnnnng’: the unmistakable sound of a light sabre…
headline act = tête d’affiche
hardly = à peine
fair enough = d’accord, effectivement
in mind = en tête
to burst out laughing = éclater de rire
obviously = évidemment
location scout = répereur
brother-in-law = beau-frère
to persuade = convaincre
packed = rempli
to wow = impressionner, émerveiller
crew = équipage
scenery = paysage
blown away = époustouflé
undergrowth = sous-bois
such a shame = c’est vraiment dommage
secrecy = confidentialité
fists = poings
sword = épée
unmistakable = unique
light sabre = sabre laser