Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Adventures at Cannes this year.....

Well 2013 is my fourth Cannes Film Festival and every year it is fantastic fun, exhausting and exhilarating.
“But (I hear you ask) what are you doing there?”
This is the question on everyone’s lips, at Cannes and beyond.
A nicer way of saying “Who are you and what do you do?”

Well, as an actor - I have a couple of films in the Marche that I am appearing in, and also have meetings with some directors, casting directors and producers for upcoming projects.
As a producer, I’m just here meeting contacts and working towards getting my next projects financed. Although Cannes is not the best way to find financing (unless you are doing million dollar features – because all the big finance companies are there), it is the best way to stay connected and know what is going on in the industry.

This year my prep was a bit lacking to tell the truth, I’ve been distracted working on a large scale commercial shooting in Rio in a few weeks which is stressing me out!
I hastily organized my dresses  through the lovely Eva of Saloon 97, Janine at Anami and Janine and jewelry from Kamilla of Dynasty Jewellry. Then spent a couple of very late evenings emailing all my contacts from previous years to see if they were available to meet up.

So instead of meetings in ‘Producer mode’ like last year (8am appointments are killers!), I got to swan about as an ‘actress’. Which also means no one expects me to be up until the afternoon at the earliest. Thank goodness.
Whilst last year was all about the sales and distributors I can meet, and wine and dine, this year it was all about meetings, attending red carpet screenings, talks with actors and ‘accidently’ bumping into directors who I hope to work with in future.

ALSO anyone who tells you that Cannes is useless unless you are selling a feature film is wrong. You will never get a more accurate and interesting view of this crazy industry. Because Cannes is a market, and attracts all sorts, partly for prestige, partly for work, partly for play it has been instrumental in helping me gain a better and larger understanding of the industry and how it operates (precariously).

In fact Cannes helped me start off ‘serious’ producing. I did an internship with ICM (Hal Sadoff, Jeff Berg) during the festival 4 years ago. (You can read the crazy stories here).
Having  worked as an actor my entire life, and then being thrust in the business side of film  with the top agencies in LA is a totally different experience. The deals, the lunch meets and the party agenda. In Cannes films are made on handshakes over a glass of rose, on a crazy drunken party night making friends with strangers who happen to be financiers, or even better at the 4am destination - Le Petit Majestic, cards in hand.
But when you get down to it, its all about the money. That’s the truth of the business side of film. Creativity is awesome but money (and glamour) is forever.
However that wasn't my experience this least not all of it....

The Crazy Stories
There really are too many stories to tell ranging from blatant exhibitionism in a small dark bar entitled Brown Sugar, to ridiculous drunken moments and sheer utter chutzpah!
I’m probably too hungover to give them justice right now (3 hours sleep), but get me in a dark bar, with great music and loads of rose then I can tell the sordid details.
I will however give you some highlights of this year.
The Hustle
Walking the red carpet is a grand old Cannes tradition, you should be able to do it at least once during the festival. But on this particular occasion myself and my partner in crime Chloe were running late, in heels. We hustled onto the red carpet only be outshone by a French starlet in a boring black dress. I was offended (bear in mind I’d had several glasses of champagne before), as I had on this beautiful vintage 1920’s flapper dress from Eva at Saloon 97, and I also wanted to help Chloe Sinclair, my flatmate and a Cannes virgin, get some good pictures for her IMDB profile. So, in a moment of pique, I accosted the nearest photographer and firmly asked him to take our photo. Now- FYI most of them work on commission and you can buy their pics at the various outlets later on. However this gentleman, let us call him G, stared at me disbelievingly, raised his camera and took a couple of shots. I felt justified considering he was not otherwise occupied, but when I asked for his card to get the photos off him, he promptly informed me he was not one of the photographers for hire, but actually the official Getty photographer trying to capture the stars of the film!
Clearly he didn’t know who he was dealing with. Lucky for us our hustling got some great red carpet pics.
Thank you Mr G, the pic is great – as I’m sure you’ll agree.  
As a friend uproariously said “Instead of punching the photographers for taking your photo, you punched them for not taking it!”.
But it looks great right?!
Jade & Chloe on the red carpet for Le Passe
Vintage 1920's dress, and Dynasty Jewelry

 Blagging into parties you are not invited to is also a grand old Cannes tradition and also an art form. Now don’t get me wrong, I was invited to parties (not a complete loner!), but there are some special parties that I was hoping to go to – such as the Hunger Games party. Standing at the entrance in the drizzle of Cannes I was waiting for a friend to come and get me in. When I suddenly get elbowed out the way by a scruffy, older, slightly larger man and his small ‘harem’ of girls. He pushes past gets through, cameras go off and photographers flock, and by the time I recognize who this illustrious personage is, has told the door lady the party is now ‘ FULL’.  No matter whether you are guest list or not.
It was the esteemed producer, ‘H- W-’. A legend in the film world and a legend with the ladies, and I got elbowed out the way for. Ah fun times.

Expect the Unexpected:
So I promised this director we’d meet up at a party he was attending. It was the Fantastic Film party, which if you know me is a must!
I love sci fi, might be a bit geeky too (I’m not verifying that statement), so I thought this might be a good party to stop off at before heading to Variety party on the beach.
My friends were  all at that other party, and I was just going to say hi and move onwards….however… the bar they only had beer….or vodka. Not only that, the lady serving kept asking me how much vodka I’d like, (at one point just offering me the bottle), the food was sushi (awesome). And the people were scruffy guys, honestly I was almost expecting Joss Whedon to walk in. No. He didn’t. Maybe he wasn’t invited.
So looking around at the crowded pavilion it didn’t look like much, but I ended meeting the most interesting people with the best projects!
Got to meet the guys who run FrightFest, Sci Fi Festval in Italy, plus I met more directors with the quadruple F then I’ve ever met in one setting.
Fully Funded Feature Films – all shooting later this year. And all genre films. It was insane, eclectic and fun.  I ended up missing Variety and didn’t mind in the least.
Goes to show that the best and most useful parties aren’t always the exclusive ones.
Take Petit Majestic as a great example. It’s a cross between a student frat bar/dodgy English street pub with cheap wine. It is always overflowing into the surrounding streets –why do we go? It’s the place that stays open all night.
You never know who you will end up drinking with, status doesn’t matter when you’re standing in the street with a 2 EURO cup of rose. If you are sober enough to actually hold a conversation t- here are some great people there.
Cards get exchanged at 4am in the morning between sales agents and producers, actors, directors and casting directors. Yes, It happens, I’ve been there! 
And if you are not sober enough, there is a nice enough gutter to sit in and watch the sun rise.

Cannes is many things to many people and I advise that whoever you are and whatever you do in the film industry you should go to Cannes. If only for the sheer amazement at the number of films in the Marche each year. A good sales and producer friend of mine told me there are around 50,000 feature films made each year. They are all looking for sales, distributors,  and if that get these, they are vying for your attention in cinemas.
Its overwhelming and humbling. Sadly I didn’t spot any hilarious gems at the marche this year as I was too busy. But you can always spot some….interesting posters!
All up it was a great festival, I gave out all my cards and ended up sounding like some sort of high level exec “Sorry I’ve run out of cards, but I’ll take yours…”
I wonder if that’s a good marketing technique for next year.
Ok now I’m rambling so I’ll stop.

I’ll end with a final plea to the weather gods to stop making it so rainy and cold at Cannes (its been getting worse!) so we can all party on the beach in warm sunsets.
Finally I’d like to say a massive thank you to the lovely ladies who sponsored me for this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Red Carpet Screening for Le Passe
1920's vintage dress by Saloon 97
Les Palmes du Plages
Vintage Moschino dress by Saloon 97

Dress by Anami & Janine

Dressed by the lovely Eva at Saloon 97 (whom I adore for their vintage), Anami and Janine (the mermaid dress! – enough said), and the lovely Kamilla at Dynasty Jewellry who makes silver butterflies for every occasion.

Please check out their websites and support independent fashion and design!

For any questions, tips or advice on anything in the above post please feel free to email me
And if you're thinking of Cannes next year do check out my friends book “Cannes: A Festival Virgins Guide” by Ben Craig.

Till next time
J x

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