“The Palace”, a strange tribute to the hotel movie

Roman Polanski’s portrayal of a satirical comedy in 11 weeks in the completely privatized Gstaad Palace is and remains a masterpiece. Producer Jean-Louis Porsche, based in French-speaking Switzerland, reveals the details of the extraordinary shoot, which saw 130 people filmed every day.

Filming “The Palace” with Roman Polanski in Gstaad Palace: “For me, this is the pinnacle of my relationship with hoteliers,” enthuses Vaudois producer Jean-Louis Porsche of CAB Productions. After all, he’s already gained experience in hotels as movie locations with Claude Chabrol at Lausanne Palace and at Waldhaus in Sils Maria. But with Roman Polanski’s “Palace”, which has been shot in Gstaad Palace in the 11 weeks since April of this year, it is now taking it a step further. “It was a snowless spring, and now it must be added with a special technique.”

The film is currently being assembled in Paris. The entire hotel was rented for filming, for 700,000 francs, with a total budget of 17 million, 10 percent of which was private Swiss financing. 130 people constantly took part in the filming, Italian, Polish, French and Swiss, turning the entire hotel complex into a film studio. With crazy ideas like smashing grass into a pavilion.

The film team stayed at the Huus Hotel, which was also privatized for this purpose. According to the producer, it was also a unique experience for the hotel staff, who took part in some recordings, for example when the Portuguese community sings “Internationale”. But more often than not, employees in uniform are waiting behind the scenes. Filming the big meal scene took 12 hours and involved hundreds of extras, including some palace guests, who broke into the on-site parking lot at Bentley. Claimed Roman Polanski “takes a few shots eight times before he gets what he wants,” says Jean-Louis Porsche. But the director also draws on the experience of great actors such as John Cleese, Mickey Rourke or Fanny Ardant in exaggerated roles and brilliant performances.

Valuable support from Leading Hotels
The producer underscores the courage of hotelier Andrea Scherz: “He gave us the keys and saw a fleet of people pouring into his house. He really had to want the movie, not worry about damage in times of pandemic, and an 88-year-old film-maker is uninsurable.” But the charisma of Roman Polanski can convince such an experienced producer as Jean-Louis Porsche: “My first encounter with Roman was in his chalet when he presented the project to me. I felt proud to meet such a character in the film, but he is so friendly that one gains confidence. quickly “. Andrea Scherz is also aware of the benefits to his hotel and 400 other members of the Leading Hotels of the World. The producer proudly displays the message of its Chairman, Swiss Andrea Kracht, which says: “The international reach, the theme, the famous director and the first-class cast give the project a great added value. That is why we want to accompany you on this wonderful adventure and especially in the international distribution of the film.” Jean-Louis Porchet is pleased to have been able to shoot all the scenes at the Gstaad Palace, while occasionally having to transfer indoor shots to other landscapes to meet the requirements of the co-producers.

Destination has benefited
From the producer’s point of view, the resort as a whole benefited from the fact that filming took place in Gstaad – with a huge expenditure of the team, then a preview in Gstaad and with a world theatrical release planned for the end of the year. “It’s a big publicity for the destination, which makes Gstaad very popular, which should prompt the tourism office to support us financially.” The producer also understands the organization of specials, especially in Paris, “because the French love to travel to filming locations.”

In the case of the film Sils-Maria by Olivier Assayas, which he co-produced, the collaboration with the Valais Wine Industry Association ensured a relaxed atmosphere at the shows. But this time, Jean-Louis Porchet cannot count on any funding from the federal government, the RTS or the Cinéforum. “I think it’s still related to the controversy surrounding Roman Polanski,” the producer says quickly and doesn’t want to comment further.

Great care for festival scenes
For Jean-Louis Porsche, “The Palace” is above all “an extraordinary satirical comedy set on New Year’s Eve, with six intertwined stories. Among other things, it sees Vladimir Putin in reality and in fiction for the first time ». The film tells of the luxury hotel’s environment: “With biting humour, but never tacky.” The fantasy is characterized by silly juxtapositions and touching characters. “I don’t know of any movie shot in Switzerland on the subject. A great movie full of special effects that will get people talking.”

He knows from experience that the public loves fairy tales set in hotels. Ridiculous stories that actually happened, like the story of the man who gave his little sweetheart a live penguin for his birthday – a scene that appears in the movie. We also hear about the 1938 Bollinger Bottle, or the wife of an ambassador sleeping in caviar. The producer shows us some still unedited and unedited scenes from a small presentation for financiers at the recent Cannes Film Festival. You can already see the lighting issues, the great attention being paid to the party scenes and chaos, and the mysterious aspect of the hotel’s secret places.

Jean-Louis Porsche tells how he found his way into the world of the palace. Thanks to Jean-Jacques Gouer. When he left Leading Hotels of the World, he wanted me to do a little fantasy about his fondness for willows in a few hours.” Then another film about Andrea Scherz taking the job followed, on the back of the job being transferred between hoteliers Andrea Kraft and Andrea Scherz, with A comical study of the food shipment.This is the first way he contacted the chief of Gstaad Palace.


[IMG 2]Andrea Sheers
Owner and General Manager of Gstaad Palace, Chairman of the Board of The Leading Hotels of the World.

Have you ever had such a big movie in your house?
no never. I remember filming The Pink Panther which lasted six weeks. At that time my father ran the house. But an entire movie was shot here for three months.

How did you come up with the idea to shoot Roman Polanski in your hotel?
We drank tea together. Our family has known him for two generations and he lives near him. He told me about his fascination with the hotel vibe. So I suggested that he shoot in Gstaad Palace for several months during the inter-season closure. I really liked that he would make a comedy out of it. Our family name Scherz also means to joke or have fun.

Were you able to work while filming?
I didn’t always know when to leave my office and had to be careful not to speak too loudly on the phone so my voice wouldn’t be heard in the recording. I was afraid that the visitors who stopped in front of the hotel would not understand the ubiquitous Christmas decorations.

How did your team organize itself?
Six of our employees were available to the film team. There was a lot of walking and cleaning to do. We are not used to dealing with 50 people in a small room. We know the wine stains, but we didn’t know what to do with the dyed water that characterizes our carpets.

What impact do you hope the film will have on your home?
I hope the film will have a strong impact on the popularity of Gstaad Palace. But also to the destination that you will see in very charming snow-covered shots taken in winter. And as for the controversy about Roman Polanski and his past, which has resurfaced: I think he paid enough for it. I think he should now be allowed to live and work as he pleases.

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