Miami has been my favorite city for a few years now. I visit the wonderful tropical paradise multiple times a year and often find an excuse to film at least one of our short videos there at regular intervals. From the contemporary buildings in the Brickell area to the Art Deco structures in South Beach and the blend of multiple Latin American cultures, there's so much to love about the Magic City.
You may be wondering how any of that is relevant to filming in Cote d'Azur. I'll explain once I get through how day 2 went.
Exploring Nice and other parts of Cote d'Azur
I've stated before that I struggle with insomnia. The anticipation of filming at the underwater museum in Cannes the next day was not going to help my situation. There were a lot of unknowns since it was our first time filming underwater, and I had never met the crew who would be handling that part of the project. Our Cannes-based video crew had subcontracted that part of the project to a team with relevant expertise.
While the comfort of the Negresco room did better than most hotels I've stayed in, I still woke up in the middle of the night. Being a familiar occurrence, I got up to watch TV thinking my sleep session was over. There wasn't anything particularly interesting on TV, so I was just marking time waiting for the sun to rise, or so I thought. The next thing I knew, the brightness of daylight assaulted my eyes. This insomniac overslept!
I was terrified, realizing that I may have missed the van for transporting the team to Port Camille Rayon in Cannes where we planned to board the yacht for filming. Speaking of yachts, there's something you should know about renting yachts in Europe that's very different from what you'll experience in a place like Miami. I'll save it for another post.
I jumped out of bed and reached for my phone, hoping for the best, but my worst fear was confirmed. I saw multiple messages from crew members desperately trying to reach me. They had left Nice without me (the show must go on).
I called Khalid (our photographer and media coordinator) to ask for the address of the port while I insisted on telling him why I missed the ride later. I was embarrassed and delighted at the same time. It's not often someone with insomnia gets to oversleep. I just wish it wasn't on a day like this.
I got ready at lightning speed and rushed down to the hotel lobby where the Negresco staff happily helped me get a taxi to take me to Cannes.
When the taxi arrived, I informed the driver of my dilemma (I left out the part about oversleeping), hoping to get a fast ride to Cannes. I asked how long it would take, but he had bad news. Traffic wasn't light, so it wasn't going to be quick. I thought to myself in horror; the crew may have to go on the boat trip without me. Khalid has managed many of our projects, so I wasn't too concerned about that. To be honest, my main concern was missing the yacht ride to an exotic location like Pointe de l'Aiguille. You don't get to do things like this every day!
It turns out the film crew was running late too, so I wasn't the last person to board the boat. Normally, I would have been upset that we were starting late, but under the circumstances, I didn't utter a word. Once I walked onto the main deck, the team members had suspicious looks on their faces, curious to hear what my excuse was. I was too embarrassed to tell them, so I jokingly claimed I was abducted by aliens (I never told them what really happened).
An hour behind schedule, we commenced our exploration of the wonderful Mediterranean Sea with the tender that was going to take us to Pointe de l'Aiguille tailing us. Meanwhile, we captured drone shots of the yacht in motion and other b-roll shots which turned out to be quite amazing. Be sure to check out the final cut of the tour.
Filming at the pebble beach in Pointe de l'Aiguille didn't take long. However, it's worth mentioning that the pebbles were very harsh on the feet. If you're planning to visit this beach, don't take your shoes off unless you aim to torture yourself. Trust me; your feet will hate you forever.
Once we were done at Pointe de l'Aiguille, we moved on to the day's main event; visiting the underwater museum in Cannes, Écomusee Sous-Marin. If you're unfamiliar with the museum, it's off the coast of Île Sainte-Marguerite, an island close to Cannes. The museum is a collection of sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor. Building the sculptures involved making casts of the faces of six Cannes residents and using these during the construction stage. It's a great place to go snorkeling, and given that it's in shallow waters, there isn't much to worry about. So how much does it cost to visit the underwater museum in Cannes? You'll be happy to know it's free. We had to pay a fee to film there, but that's not something regular visitors need to worry about.
The underwater crew included Jerome Espla and his team from Poisson-Lune Productions, a Cannes-based underwater media production company, and diver Ioana Stoicescu from Mesophotica, an environmental consulting company with expertise in scientific scuba diving. We didn't skimp on expenses here, and the results made it all worth the additional cost. The raw footage of the crew and Raquel exploring the museum is simply incredible.
During one of our planning meetings before the event, Ioana asked about the wet suit we planned to use and quickly dismissed the one we purchased as inadequate. It wasn't good enough to keep the diver warm at that time of the year, so she arranged to get the proper gear for Raquel.
With so many pros involved, I was tempted to slip into a wetsuit and join them, but I didn't have one. Perhaps another day. Raquel will have more to say about this adventure.
Once the underwater session was done, it was time to head back to shore. We were running late for our helicopter ride at Cannes airport. After we arrived, the good folks at Heli Air Monaco promptly gave us a ride to the restricted area of the airport, where they operated the helicopter ride.
Here's a little secret, I have a phobia for helicopters. I took one ride in Las Vegas a few years ago and felt very vulnerable. I haven't been in one since. Raquel, on the other hand, is way braver than I am and doesn't blink when jumping into one of these birds. Things went smoothly, and we captured what we needed quickly.
It was now time to head to La Réserve de Nice. The restaurant is located on Boulevard Franck Pilatte, a street directly facing the Mediterranean Sea. It has breathtaking panoramic views and a rooftop bar.
Here, Raquel got to try different items on their menu. I have to say I was a little jealous as they brought in one plate after the other. It's one of the reasons why I keep telling her I want to be like her when I grow up.
After filming at La Réserve, it was time to wrap up day 2. I thanked all crew members who were not joining us for the trip to Milan the next day and proceeded back to Negresco. Later in the evening, I had dinner with Fortloc team members to compare notes on how things went.
Interestingly, the subject of my missing the trip to Cannes in the morning didn't come up. The only thing we hadn't covered on the schedule was the visit to Nice's Old Town. We would have to do that the next day before driving to Milan.
Filming in the French Riviera was a wonderful experience. Even though it was work, and we had a few tense moments, it sometimes felt like a vacation. Having a wonderful crew helped a lot too, particularly when it came to the underwater session.
So, did anything change regarding my favorite place in the world? It took some thinking, but Cote d'Azur has won me over. Between Mont Boron, the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and the gorgeous views and artistic rock formations in Theoule-sur-Mer, it's not a fair fight. Miami has been relegated to my second-most favorite place in the world.