Paris bans action movie shoots in wake of Charlie Hebdo attacks

Paris is restricting the filming of action movies in the city after deadly attacks over fears that actors could be mistaken for police or soldiers.

'The actors in uniform could be targets for terrorists,' warns police official who authorizes filming

French soldiers patrol near the Eiffel Tower after the shooting at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 12. The city has banned filming outside scenes with police, army or security services over fears that actors could become targets. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

Fearing that actors could be mistaken for police — and chase scenes confused for the real thing — Paris is sharply restricting filing of action movies in the city that been the stage for some of film's most memorable high-octane sequences.

Filming outside scenes with police, army or security services was quietly banned after the attacks in the French capital that left 20 dead, including three gunmen.

"There's a problem with these action-type scenes, as the actors in uniform could be targets for terrorists. Also, the actors could pose confusion for the general public — during this highly sensitive period," Sylvie Barnaud, the police official who grants outside filming permission in Paris, told The Associated Press.

She did not know how long the ban could last, but tensions remain high in Paris, with armed police and soldiers still posted outside sensitive sites, including synagogues, media offices and major shopping areas.

A favoured film location

The telegenic city has long been a favoured filming location, especially for chase scenes that feature some of the world's most recognizable landmarks.

Luc Besson's 2014 box-office hit Lucy with Scarlett Johansson features a police chase next to the Louvre — something impossible under the new rules.

Scarlett Johansson's character races a police car down the side walk of a famous Parisian thoroughfare in this scene from Luc Besson's 2014 box-office hit Lucy. (Universal Pictures)
​"Had Luc Besson wanted to film this now, it would be impossible," said William Trillaud, set fixer for the movie.

The same may have been true of 2014's blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow, which was partly filmed in the French capital, staring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise. Further back in film history, Matt Damon's famed Mini Cooper chase in the Bourne Identity wouldn't have happened, and the Ronin gunbattle at the gilded Pont Alexandre III would have been equally complicated.

Production plans impacted

A French soldier secures the access to a Jewish school in Paris after the country deployed 10,000 soldiers in the wake of the attacks in January. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)
Several productions have already been disrupted — included one called Flics Tout Simplement (Simply Cops,) which was supposed to have a scene with a police officer outside a school. Scenes with religious sites or schools, both protected under the emergency security plans, are also banned.

"Yes, we were meant to film this scene. But it wasn't allowed. Of course, we have to respect the new rules, and we changed the production plan," said the film unit director Stephan Guillemet.

Paris is holding its annual Film Set Fair this week, hoping that it will continue to attract big productions — and trumpets that it gave the green light to 1,159 film productions in the capital last year alone.

"It could have an impact on the big American productions ... It's not the right moment to do it," said Agnes Naggeotte of the Cinema Mission of the City of Paris. "Even if Steven Spielberg wanted to film a big scene with police and a shoot-out in the streets in January I'm sure it would not have got made."


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