To become a production assistant for documentaries, Alba Lombardía was happy to leave Oviedo, her hometown in Spain, and move to Paris. The real challenge was to get used to the differences in working attitude between Spain and France.
Paris, je t’aime!
What do Oviedo and Paris have in common? The mysterious, harmonious and beautifully placid former Spanish town could seem to be the antithesis of the cosmopolitan and seductive French capital and its fast rhythm of life. These two places are two sides of the same coin for Alba Lombardía. This 27-year-old Spanish girl decided to swap Oviedo, her birthplace, for the magnetic city of Paris, motivated by an endeavour to find her long-awaited job in film.
I first came to Paris in 2005 on an Erasmus exchange during my last year before graduating in Audiovisual Communication. It wasn’t the first time that I’d been away from home, actually. During my university years I left my native Oviedo and the family to study in Madrid. There, I gained personal independence, maturity and self-confidence. Therefore, when I decided to move to Paris, I had no fear or limitations.
I don’t know whether I’m a traveller or not, but I’m certainly a person who looks for good things; I don’t resign myself to an atmosphere or to some unsatisfactory circumstances. I like travelling in depth, learning things and staying for a while in the places I travel to. I had a feeling that Paris would be the place to find good job opportunities in the field of cinema and because of that I decided to move.
Paris was a big discovery in so many ways: intense cultural life, a metropolis with lots of interesting people, the beauty of the French urban landscapes and the possibility of gaining experience in producing documentaries in one of the capitals of European cinema. In the field of cinema, France is one of the most powerful countries in Europe and I am learning new things and working with people whom I could not meet in Spain.
In my first year in Paris I didn’t have time to feel lonely. I was on my Erasmus year and everything was amazing, with lots of new people to get to know, and the university, which was very exciting… But after all that, in my second year in the French capital, when I decided to stay in Paris to find a job after my Erasmus year, I realised that everything I had built up was ephemeral, because most of the people whom I had met before were in Paris only for a short period. Of course, I keep in touch with these distant friends, who were Parisian for some time. I feel nostalgic when I realise that my family and some friends don’t belong to my daily life, as they did in the past. But this feeling makes me feel very close to other people who are in the same situation in Paris. I have friends here: my Parisian family.
I made my first friends in Paris at the university and also when I was searching for a flat to share. In this way I got to know one of my best friends. The rest was like a domino effect: a person leads you to another and, based on common interests, you build a network of people to trust in.
I have friends here: my Parisian family.
The French are very respectful people who do not want to get into your life, so that they don’t bother you. And that’s lovely sometimes but, otherwise, you need a lot of time to get close to people and make friends. When I studied in Madrid there was such spontaneity with some mates or work colleagues that made us meet and drink a few beers together after the courses. Events in Paris have to be prepared in advance, though. As the city is very big, it takes a lot of time to get to a meeting place, making the spontaneity practically disappear. Nonetheless, relationships with foreign people are significantly different. As they are also far away from their families, they also want to be connected with other people, and feel the need to talk to someone, which fosters easier friendships.
I remember my first day. I was a little bit nervous, shy and lost. My colleagues? It was something like ‘we will get to know each other in the next few days’: they were polite but also showed a certain amount of interest in me at the same time, I mean they included me in conversations and asked me about my life but they didn’t ask everything on my first day at the new job!It was not an easy task looking for a job in Paris but I was eager to find one. Family far away, friends far away and the most part of the day surfing on the internet with the hope of finding an interesting project to join. I started doing internships on documentary films in Paris with AGAT FILMS & Cie. – EX NIHILO, a company created by eight producers of movies and documentaries. After the internship period, I was hired and I’ve been working with them ever since.
The atmosphere is multicultural: most of the employees are French, but there are also colleagues from other countries like Italy, Brasil and Costa Rica. It’s normal to organise a lunch with colleagues to talk about company issues once a year. Also, we hold farewell parties with a cultural topic, such as “Theatre” or “Oriental culture”, when someone leaves the company.
An interesting company…
I work for a production company and we have lots of work! My job consists of organising film shoots and other production tasks. The main differences between teamwork in France and Spain are mostly related to the attitude. Work relationships are more restrained in France than in Spain, as people are more reserved. However, they really know how to work in a team and follow the structures: the organisation here is very good! They work very well indeed. They also work fewer hours than in Spain. Officially, they work 35 hours a week, but when there’s a lot to do people work overtime.
Work relationships are more restrained in France than in Spain, as people are more reserved.
My job position lies somewhere between Direction Assistant and Production Assistant. Moreover, my daily tasks also include organisation of filming, that is, anything related to logistics and the search for financing and coproduction. Nevertheless, I am a documentary maker and I love this work: researching information and people who might be interested in taking part in a project.
This job in Paris means that I get to know interesting people in the sector, and I love the city so much! It’s a joy for me to be here!
…and a city that seduces its inhabitants!
I think that in any city, everyone sees what they want to see. Big cities are a mirror of yourself. I was in a very vital moment in my life when I ended up in Paris. I was very open-minded at that moment and I decided to enlarge those feelings and longer. Paris is a city with a thousand faces, a place where you can do – alone or with other people – whatever you want, whenever you want. What I find really interesting about Paris is its cultural wealth and the movies which are produced here. Sometimes there is too much to see, which is also a problem! Here people say: métro, boulot, dodo, which means: ‘underground, work and sleep’, the usual routine in Paris which prevents you from enjoying all those big opportunities that the city has to offer. It is just that with the fast rhythm of life, if you are not on vacation there is not much time to spend on leisure activities. My favorite places in Paris are the Pompidou Centre, where I often go to conferences, and the Forum des Images.
Things that I miss from my country? The easy access to nature – the sea or the mountains – where I can relax. Also, my family and Spanish friends whom I can’t visit as often as when I was in Madrid. Spanish food doesn’t taste so good to me when I’m not at home. I receive sometimes an envelope with jamón vacuum pack, but I enjoy eating it much more in Spain. What I really like is eating croquetas and other Spanish food, in situ.
Teaser photo: “Alexander Franke” / www.youthmedia.eu, CC-License(by-nc)