Cannes 2008: impressions and tips

Tunerz producer Gaétan Cardella in Cannes
Tunerz producer Gaétan Cardella in Cannes

Every May for the past 60 years, this small French town hosts the 3rd most important event in the world after the Olympic Games and the World Cup: the Cannes Festival. Hordes of professionals, stars, impassioned and the curious arrive in the seaside resort. If you want some tips about surviving Cannes, click through for more.

You can get to Cannes by car, train or plane. Find a hotel early as they are booked well in advance, in some cases 2 years before. If you have money you can rent a suite at the Majestic, Carlton or Palm Beach for only €3000 a night. With the crisis, if you stay more that 2 nights you can get a discount of 25% for the followings nights. I found a little 3-stars hotel at 15 km from Cannes for 90 euro a night just 300 m from the beach and station. Click here for a wide choice of Cannes hotels.

Audi R8 at Cannes festival 09
Audi R8 at Cannes festival 09

I go to Cannes for business more than anything. This year I met producers and distributors from USA, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Russia… Everybody was enthusiastic about our movie project about car races, except Belgium. My buisiness cards with my picture made a good impression, as did the postcard representing the poster of the film. Someone even asked if the film was already out.

The spectacle was as much on screen as in the street. We had come to sell our film. But I was distracted by the Motor Show in the street. First day, it was calm: Porsche 911, Ferrari 348 & 328, F355, Audi R8, Jaguar, Subaru Impreza, Lotus, BMW series 6, Nissan 350 Z, mostly convertibles. The second day was better: F430 Modena, Lamborghini Gallardo, Maserati, Corvette, Viper, Mustang, 911 GT3 and Bentley Continental. Third day, the firework show: Ferrari 599 and 612, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Maybach, Lamborghini Murcialego, Mercedes SLR. But the richest people don’t use cars. They travel by helicopter from their yacht.

But I had to take my eyes off the street to convince possible investors that our project is “bankable”, that there is a market of spectators that want to see cars on the screen. It is very complicated to explain to an investor for whom a car is simply a means of transport to go from point A to point B, that people make of their vehicle a passion, high with the row of art for some. We found American, Russian and Japanese companies that are interested. All we needed was… the script! We went with a 12-page treatment, a postcard – and some chutzpah.( glibness)

A few tips:

  • Learn English! Without it you get nowhere! When you speak with a Spanish and then with a German and you finish with a Russian, it will be in English. I cannot be clearer.
  • Secondly: Always have a bunch of business cards with you. When you first speak to somebody, after shaking hands the ritual is to exchange cards. Not having a card is considered a serious professional error: in a word you look “amateur”. And not a card made with the printer of your living room, a genuine business card printed in hard-bound and plasticized paper.
  • Third: the enemy is weight. Most people come by plane and have a limited amount of luggage. So don’t give them complete screenplays, as they are too heavy. You’ll send it by e-mail and save weight. If not, put your file on a USB key. Most people have their laptops with them. They download and immediately check your project. You can have a file of some pages but use it to show them, not to give to them. In any event, they are overbooked and will never have time to read a screenplay.
  • The good plan was the postcard with the subject and details. It visualized the film’s concept immediately and made it possible to advance the discussions. A postcard that is light and they can remember in a few months when you contact them again.
  • Fourthly: In Cannes, you’re talking business in a tropical environment. A short sleeved shirt and light trousers are enough for clothing. On the other hand, wear sport shoes, as you will walk several kilometres per day. But always bring something smart for the evening, as the nights are long and… lively.There are parties every evening in hotels, on the beach, on yachts and in private villas. Don’t forget a formal jacket. It’s the magic of Cannes. The guests are filtered. Some starlets, scriptwriters or spongers, spend their day trying to find out where the party will take place, where you have to be on a particular night, or in which party the producer or the director they want to meet will be. The Belgian party is open to everyone, and the surprise guest was… rain!!!

classic_car_in_cannes1) You can dream awake here. When you wear a formal jacket (obligatory!) and you climb the stairs, walking on the red carpet of the Palais des Festivals is a wonderful feeling. The lights, steps, photographers, gorgeous ladies in evening dress (well, most anyway), dozens of bodyguards, spectators pressed behind the barriers. OK, even if all these people are not there for you, even if you are a bit player in the show business parade, it’s a pleasure to be there and enjoy the shiver of the legend, just for a few moments.

2) You can meet bona-fide VIPs, movie professionals, journalists or freeloaders. Each one tastes the privilege of belonging to this enchanted bracket. And of course, there are the stars, inaccessible or that are almost never seen.

3) You can overdose on films. Oh yes, the Cannes film festival is primarily about movies, right?

5) It’s great to be there. If you walk on the Croisette alongside the beach, you can see anonymous artists trying to attract the attention of the idlers. It feels good to be between the sea, sun and palm trees. Yes. Cannes is great. I was tired, but glad. See us next year.

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