What Are French Hours Breathless Jean Seberg

If you’re wondering, “What are French hours?” you’re not the first moviemaker to find yourself asking that question of late, as productions worldwide look for safer and more efficient ways to shoot during COVID-19.

In the latest issue of MovieMaker Magazine, producer Jon C. Scheide, assistant director of the new Deon Taylor film Don’t Fear, wrote about how the production worked successfully under new COVID-19-compliant protocols. One of his key takeaways was that time is of greater concern than ever before.

One way filmmakers have learned to streamline the shooting day, he wrote, is by operating under “French hours,” aka “the continuous day.” He writes:

We’re moving to shorter shooting days. The “continuous day,” or what some call “French hours,” is quite production-friendly. Shooting a continuous day means working ten hours from call to camera wrap, period. There’s no going over, and no companywide break for lunch. The set keeps going. The lunch window is scheduled from five to six- and-a-half hours after call, and somewhere in that time, everyone finds half an hour to eat. Actors, hair and makeup can eat during a lighting setup or changeover. Grips and electrics can break when a scene is being shot.

Everyone always has the same question about French hours. But did you really think the French, of all people, would forget about the importance of good food?

I can hear the naysayers wondering, “But what if someone misses a meal?” Sorry, we’re all adults. We were all capable of getting hired, so we should be capable of remembering to eat. And besides, COVID-19 guidelines require us all to eat at a distance from one another. It would make no sense for everyone to eat at once.

You can read the entire piece by Jon C. Scheide here.

Main image: Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg in Breathless, directed by Jean Luc-Godard.