What Is <a href="https://filmlifestyle.com/french-hours-in-film" data-lasso-id="497761">French Hours</a> in Film? Unveiling On-Set Efficiency

In the fast-paced world of film production, “French hours” is a term that sparks interest for its unconventional approach to scheduling.

It’s a continuous workday without the traditional break for meals that aims to increase efficiency and cohesion among cast and crew.

This system allows for a shorter, often more intense workday with everyone eating on set when they can, which contrasts sharply with the standard practice of scheduled breaks during filming.

French hours may not be suitable for every production but it has been successfully implemented in various projects looking to streamline their process and tighten their schedules.

Understanding French Hours In Film

Let’s delve into the concept of French hours in the filmmaking industry.

It’s a work schedule that forgoes the traditional structure of having a separate block of time for lunch.

Instead, meals are provided on a rolling basis, and crew members eat when they have a free moment during the production day.

This system is quite different from the standard practice in many film productions where there’s usually a designated break for meals after six hours of work.

Under French hours, crews often agree to continuous shooting throughout the day without formal meal breaks.

This can potentially streamline productivity and keep everyone on set rather than breaking momentum.

French hours can be beneficial in several ways:

  • They may reduce overall production time,
  • They allow for more flexibility with daylight-dependent shoots,
  • Crew members might prefer this non-traditional schedule.

However, it’s not all positives with this approach.

There are some drawbacks such as:

  • Some crew members may find it hard to work without structured breaks,
  • It could lead to longer working days if not managed properly.

Films like Mad Max: Fury Road have utilized French hours to maintain continuity and take advantage of natural lighting conditions.


Despite its challenges, when implemented effectively, this method can be an asset to film productions striving for efficiency and creative fluidity.

The Origin Of French Hours

Digging into the roots of French hours, we find a system that’s all about efficiency and flexibility.

It’s a method hailing from France, as the name implies, where film crews operate without the traditional break for lunch or dinner.

This deviation from the standard practice was born out of necessity and has evolved over time.

The concept was initially adopted to accommodate shorter daylight hours during winter months.

Filmmakers in France realized that by working through lunch, they could maximize their use of natural light.

As such, meals are often provided on a rolling basis so crew members can eat when it suits them best.

In Hollywood’s early days, filmmakers observed this efficient approach and gradually incorporated it into their own productions.

Though not universally embraced due to union regulations on working hours and meal breaks, French hours offer certain advantages:

  • Streamlined shooting schedule,
  • Potential cost savings,
  • Enhanced momentum on set.

Noteworthy is how this approach contrasts with standard filming schedules in other countries like the United States where breaks are scheduled and strictly adhered to.

Despite its challenges – particularly around labor laws and crew satisfaction – French hours continue to influence modern filmmaking practices where tight schedules demand it.

How French Hours Work

French hours in the film industry are a departure from the traditional shooting schedule.

This approach eliminates the standard dedicated break times for meals, typically resulting in a continual workday without structured meal breaks.

Under French hours, crew members eat when they’re hungry and can break at their own discretion.

It’s a straight-through workday that aims to maximize efficiency on set.

Catering is often provided buffet-style so everyone can grab food as needed.

The concept originated in France where union rules regarding filmmaking differ significantly from those in places like the United States.

It was designed as an alternative to the lengthy meal penalties incurred under more traditional schedules.

Here’s how it generally rolls out:

  • Call time is set and the day begins with no scheduled lunch break.
  • Crew works through what would traditionally be meal times.
  • A “rolling lunch” is served, usually over a two-hour window where food is available buffet style.
  • The goal is to complete shooting within 10 hours, avoiding overtime costs.

Adoption of French hours may lead to differing opinions on set:

  • Some crew members appreciate the flexibility and potential for shorter days.
  • Others miss having designated downtime to rest and recharge during long shoots.

By embracing this system, productions aim for uninterrupted creativity and productivity.

However, it requires careful consideration of individual needs to ensure team morale remains high throughout the shoot.

Pros And Cons Of French Hours

French hours offer a distinct approach to film production that can come with several advantages.

One major benefit is the streamlined schedule it provides – there’s no break for lunch which means fewer interruptions and potentially more consistent performance levels from cast and crew.

This non-traditional method can also foster a sense of camaraderie as everyone eats together while working, enhancing team spirit.

  • Streamlined workday with continuous momentum,
  • Potential for improved team dynamics.

However, French hours aren’t without their drawbacks.

The lack of a formal break can lead to exhaustion since the ongoing nature of the day offers less downtime for rest and recuperation.

Some workers might find this relentless pace challenging to sustain over long periods, possibly affecting productivity or even leading to increased mistakes on set.

  • Risk of fatigue due to non-stop workflow,
  • Possible decline in productivity if not managed well.

It’s worth noting that French hours may result in cost savings by reducing overall shoot days but at the potential expense of individual well-being.

With shorter days, productions might save money on overtime pay and other associated costs linked with longer traditional shooting schedules.

  • Cost efficiencies through reduced shoot duration,
  • Savings on overtime expenses.

On the flip side, these condensed hours could strain relationships with unions or guilds that have established standard working conditions designed to protect their members.

It’s crucial to navigate these agreements carefully as violating them could lead to disputes or penalties.

  • Need for careful negotiation with industry unions,
  • Risk of labor disputes over non-standard work conditions.

Adapting French hours demands careful consideration and an understanding that what works for one production may not suit another.

The success of this system hinges on clear communication, robust planning, and ensuring all stakeholders are onboard with this alternative scheduling format.

Improving Efficiency With French Hours

Adopting French hours can significantly streamline the production process.

It’s an approach that condenses a film crew’s day into a continuous block, usually lasting around 10 to 12 hours without traditional meal breaks.

This method offers various advantages:

  • Reduced setup and breakdown times,
  • Fewer interruptions lead to increased momentum,
  • Talent and crew appreciate the shorter workday.

Our experience tells us that productions using French hours often report heightened focus among cast and crew.

Everyone’s working toward the same goal, minimizing downtime and distractions.

Interestingly, productions also see potential cost savings.

With fewer meal breaks, there’s less need for catering services or overtime pay which typically occurs during longer conventional shooting days.

Yet it’s not all about saving money; it’s about optimizing time.

The cast and crew are paid for efficiency rather than mere presence on set.

A well-known example of this practice is Mad Max: Fury Road, where director George Miller capitalized on French hours to maintain the high energy necessary for such an intense film.

Remember though, French hours aren’t universally popular or applicable.

They require careful planning and clear communication to ensure everyone’s needs are met throughout what can be an intense filming schedule.

What Is French Hours In Film? Unveiling On-set Efficiency – Wrap Up

Wrapping up our discussion on French hours in film, it’s clear this approach has unique benefits and challenges.

It streamlines production and can enhance crew morale by respecting their time and work-life balance.

Embracing French hours means a single, uninterrupted block of shooting time, often preferred for its efficiency and potential cost savings.

However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The feasibility of implementing French hours varies greatly depending on the project specifics:

  • Budget constraints,
  • Union rules,
  • Crew preferences.

Our insight into French hours underscores the importance of flexibility in filmmaking.

We understand that every set operates differently, with distinct needs that require tailored approaches to scheduling and crew management.

Ultimately, considering French hours as an option reflects the evolving landscape of film production where efficiency meets the well-being of those behind the scenes.

Whether or not to adopt this method hinges on careful consideration of various factors – from personnel to production scale.

We at Filmmaking Lifestyle believe in empowering filmmakers with knowledge about industry practices like French hours.

Knowledge is power – especially when deciding how to manage your set for optimum results.

Keep exploring innovative ways to run your productions; after all, each choice directly impacts the artistry and financial outcomes of your film endeavors.