It all came down to whether Woody Allen would agree then find time in his schedule.
Without a crucial cameo from the celebrated New York filmmaker, the French director Sophie Lellouche would not have had a film.
And given the comic romance Paris-Manhattan was her debut, the former lingerie designer would not have had a filmmaking career either.
''If Woody Allen had said no, I'd have had to forget it,'' Lellouche says. ''I would have even stopped thinking about becoming a director. So it was very important to me that he would say yes.''
Paris-Manhattan centres on a French pharmacist, Alice (Alice Taglioni), who is obsessed with Woody Allen. She has his poster on her wall, quotes from his movies and even prescribes them to her customers along with more conventional medicines.
But living in a fantasy world, it takes a meeting with the more down-to-earth Victor (singer and actor Patrick Bruel) to give her the chance of real-life romance.
It's a very Woody Allen premise - a French version of his angsty New Yorkers pondering the meaning of existence and relationships - that borrows from Play It Again, Sam, the 1972 comedy that had Allen as a mild-mannered film critic taking advice from Humphrey Bogart.
While Allen was making Midnight in Paris as a homage to the city, Lellouche was planning to return the compliment with a Parisian homage to him. So, like a sleuth, she tracked him down.
First stop was the Ritz hotel in Paris. ''Every Christmas holidays he's in Paris at the Ritz,'' Lellouche says. ''So I gave the script to the concierge.''
The same day, Allen's producer and sister, Letty Aronson, contacted Lellouche to say he was fine with her quoting from his movies but too busy to act in Paris-Manhattan.
Two years later, having financed the movie, Lellouche joined a queue to meet Allen after his regular Monday night jazz gig, playing clarinet at the Carlyle Hotel in New York.
''I waited till it was my turn and I said, 'I sent you a script six months ago to the Ritz hotel,''' she says. ''He said, 'Yes, I remember. What's happened with your movie?'''
Lellouche explained it was still rolling but not ready to shoot.
Six months later, after rewriting the script, she tracked Allen down in Paris again and met him ''by luck'' in the street. ''I was looking for him near the Ritz hotel,'' she says. ''He said, 'OK, send me the script and I'll tell you if I can make the movie or not.' Two weeks later, his assistant sent me an email saying he'd agreed to make the movie.''
But so tight was Allen's schedule that he was available for just one hour while in Paris for a concert. So Lellouche assembled a small crew and three cameras for her first scene as a movie director.
When it all worked perfectly, Lellouche was finally away. She started shooting the rest of Paris-Manhattan 10 days later.
The relationship at the heart of the movie, she says, turns on a woman who lives in the future meeting a man who lives in the present. ''She has a problem with reality,'' Lellouche says of Alice. ''The present is always bad for her. When she meets Victor, she learns to just appreciate the present.''
Taglioni, a former classical pianist best known for The Story of My Life and The Valet, thought it was a fresh premise for a French movie. ''I loved the character of Alice,'' she says. ''She's in a transition from teenage times and the world of adults. And she's a bit afraid of it. She doesn't want to be an adult.''
When Lellouche finally worked with Allen on Paris-Manhattan, she was impressed. ''In France, when you need to contact an artist, you might wait a month. But with Woody Allen, I'd send his assistant an email at 2 o'clock and at 2.05 I'd get the answer.''
Paris-Manhattan opens tomorrow. Garry Maddox travelled to Paris courtesy of Unifrance Films.
Tomorrow in Arts - Paul Byrnes reviews the film.
The story To Woody with love: Allen cameo sparks filmmaker's career first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.