What’s not to get excited about when Paris hosts the Olympics? Especially when iconic images our PSN France Partners recently filmed with the NBCUniversal team fill screens at the FreeWheel Beach during panel discussions at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Time for our US Liaisons to snap team photos with USA Olympic Soccer player, Ashlyn Harris, and NBC News personality, Willie Geist.

The event saw NBCUniversal and Comcast Advertising unveil planning for the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympic Games to brand leaders, media experts, broadcasters, and Team USA Olympians. We’re looking forward to more teamwork as the games approach!

Despite the spread of advertising budgets across the diverse media spectrum of our times, there are brands and agencies who trust in visionary creatives to elevate their campaigns to admirable heights with film. And in our recent experience several happen to be French!

Look no further than this Lancôme campaign featuring Zendaya and a cohort of models taking the reins in a horseback ride across a showcase of Chilean landscapes. French production house Phantasm initially had its sights set on filming in San Pedro de Atacama, renowned for its desert vistas in Chile’s north. Local feedback from the team at PSN Chile soon swayed director Jessy Moussallem to nearby Copiapó to capture a richer tapestry ranging from desert and green grasses to a big body of water and salt flats the FX team on location enhanced to appear snowy – all during a 3-day shoot.

While the Dune co-star is no stranger to epic landscapes, Zendaya’s schedule kept her in LA to film the close-ups. It was her remarkable double who saddled up for the outdoor adventure.  Lucky girl might think director Christopher Nolan.

No Substitute For Filming On Location

“It’s fun for the actors. It’s fun for me,” said Nolan in a timeless BBC Newsnight interview.  “There’s nothing more disparaging than when you turn up for work and there’s just a green screen with a couple of actors in front of it. The magic’s not there.”

True to form, Nolan’s latest box-office hit, Oppenheimer, pushed the limits of the IMAX format while filming in authentic locations coast-to-coast across the US.

“I’ve always preferred real locations to sets. There’s a feeling of reality. There’s a feeling of being somewhere that matters,” concludes Nolan in the BBC Newsnight interview

“Real is always better than synthetic”, concurs veteran location manager John Rakich“Early in the process, when you’re driving around scouting with people and seeing how they feel when they walk out into a place. Especially your director and your creatives. They get inspired by it.”

The sentiment drives filmmakers of long form as well as those lensing ambitious commercials like this anthem produced by our PSN Peru Partners for Anheuser-Busch’s Cristal Beer.

Following up on the thrill of being there to produce epic commercials with local support from our PSN Jordan Partner for Louis Vuitton, Zara, and De Beers, production house North Six Paris traveled to Egypt for Dior to capture the singular allure of the land of the Pharaohs.

“A location becomes a character. The character leads to authenticity,” concludes Rakich, the President of Location Managers Guild International.  Recently returned from leading a panel at Comic-Con International about filming on location, he points to the work of his fellow location managers with real-life locations that became bigger than life on the screen. Blockbuster titles filled this sizzle reel to kick off a discussion about location work to a packed room of avid fans.

“A real location offers depth, unlimited scope, there’s no sight line that gets blocked” Rakich adds. “It offers texture. It just lets you build more around a world, and a lot of directors and creatives prefer that.”

“Abu Dhabi really was the biggest set we’d ever worked on,” acknowledged Mission Impossible 7 writer-director, Christopher McQuarrie, in a recent interview with Abu Dhabi’s Creative Media Authority. While downplaying the action that the MI franchise is known for, McQuarrie underlined the inspiration of epic proportions he finds in the real world. “Really what motivates us more than the action is the beauty of the locations and the people that we’re celebrating when we go there”.

Location scouts and managers work tirelessly with local communities to make the seemingly impossible, well, possible – to achieve the wow factor that stays etched in the mind of the audience. Their most celebrated successes of this past year are nominated by their peers for recognition at the 10th Annual LMGI Awards on August 26. The Guild will grant a special honor at the Awards to Steven Spielberg for his influence on generations of creatives and his acknowledgment that locations play an indispensable role in the filmmaking process and convey distinct narratives.

“Locations tie everything in together” concludes Rakich. “They tap into a sense of memory and that feeling of real”.