Cannes is nearly upon us... the yearly gathering of producers, directors, financiers and anyone else who's part of the movie industry. It's a fortnight of meetings, networking, parties and premieres... and quite a lot of bullshit too. It's always good to remember - just because you're there doing genuine business - it doesn't mean everyone else is. Cannes is the place to go to find people to work with on future projects or maybe to find distribution or sales for your current project, but it's also full of people trying to blag something for nothing. Some go purely for the parties... fine...no harm in that... but others will tell you what you want to hear in order to appear to be people worth talking to. My advice is simple: Real people leave a trail of evidence of their work... use the internet on your phone to check people out before you waste valuable networking time talking to a wannabe. I've had first time filmmakers in Cannes with no track record ask me if i could help them find £100m for the their first feature. A) What? £100m??? B)No.
Even if you don't have a reason to go to Cannes this year, it's worth checking it out as there's nothing that brings home how the industry works better than a trip to Cannes. Walking around the Marche' Du Film is a revelation - it was for me when i first went back in 2010. The sheer amount of films looking for distribution... it's staggering... and all the posters. It really makes you realise that artwork is vital... and your classy artwork you've designed for your indiefilm is probably unoriginal and totally wrong to sell your film. It's also amazing to talk to buyers and sales agents face to face. Their take on the industry is very different to that of a filmmaker. It's time well spent if you can find out what they are looking for... you'll be very surprised.
|The Grand Hotel|
It's very humbling walking around Cannes with your latest film in your bag ready to pitch, when you are surrounded by hundreds of other filmmakers doing exactly the same thing.. you begin to realise that you need to stand out... you need an angle and it's all about who you know.. None of it helps if you don't have a killer movie, but you need connections.
I've been lucky to make some great connections in Cannes, many of whom i'll be meeting again this year - people who really help push things forward.... but i'm always looking for new connections and that starts now, weeks before we even leave. I suggest you do the same.
Tips for where to go? Ok... obviously, the Marche Du Film and the Pavilions during the day. Talk to people... don't be scared to approach people and ask what they are in Cannes for - strike up conversation. In the evenings, Le Petit Majestic is a riot... a little street bar behind the main Croisette... this place is the best street bar during festival time. Expect to find lots of interesting people here... often the real people behind the bigger companies come here. The lawn of The Grand is the place to be for networking with the movers and shakers - they'll be players too - but this is a great place to meet up with other producers and filmmakers - not to mention some big industry names sometimes.
|Don't forget the boat parties...|
Other than that, there's the parties.... the parties are often where the main action is. But how to get an invite? That's what connections are for. Ask around in the Pavilions during the day... look online... there's always a way.
My final tip is this: It's very easy to enjoy Cannes... it's warm, it's beautiful, it's fun... but don't forget why you are there. Make every day count. Meet people. Sell your film. Pitch your project. Do what you came to do.
See you there.