Monday May 19
Started the day with a meeting with a couple of guys who are trying to woo Colin to work for their new festival. In addition to TIFF, don’t worry, he’s not leaving the Midnight Throne. Anyway, we’ve talked to them a few times, and the last meeting we had made us worry that their expectations and plans were a little too ambitious for what one can reasonably expect to accomplish for a new upstart on the festival scene. We (foolishly!) believed we’d talked them down from their Mount Everest-sized dreams, but alas. Being in Cannes with the pixie dust of Hollywood Glamour™ in their eyes probably didn’t help, either. What seemed like a cool opportunity was looking more and more like someone’s kooky pipe dream. C’est la vie. Dreams are born and die fast on la Croisette!
My advice to anyone thinking about starting a film festival is simple. If you’re doing it for any reason other than a genuine desire to show the films you love to other people (because you actually, y’know, care about films), then you are in it for the wrong reasons and should probably get out now.
Sneak preview of how my night ended (and because I’m determined to keep posting pictures of the man who says he hates pictures – the cutie in the middle):
Next up was a quick trip to the market (via the apartment, because I managed to leave both my badge and my wallet at home, like a champ) for a private screening of an American indie comedy that Colin was roped into seeing in a tiny screening room built for maybe six people in one of the larger booth / offices in the Palais. The film wasn’t terribly funny, and the cool-factor of going to a screening that was organized just for us wore off after about 15 minutes. After all, when you’re alone in the theatre, you can’t slip out after half an hour when you’ve determined the film is not for you.
We went for a walkabout to check out a few companies on the Palais floor who we hadn’t met with before. One young company with a roster of so-so looking horror films was shocked that Colin didn’t think their I Know What You Did Last Summer-esque film didn’t feel like a fit for Midnight Madness to him. He tried to explain why something like You’re Next did work while this film might not, and they seemed puzzled. “Is it the home invasion thing?” one asked. There are so many passionate people in this business, but there are also a lot of folks who don’t seem to care about actual movies. It’s odd, and yet, see above, on the topic of “starting a festival, reasons to”.
My nugget of wisdom for all you aspiring film industry types out there is this. If you’re getting into the world of film festivals, or film sales, or distribution, or filmmaking itself, and if you’re interested in working in a particular genre (horror is an easy example, but it works for others too), then do your research before plunging in. You don’t have to know the ins & outs of every festival, and you don’t have to have seen every film. But at least look up the basics so that you don’t sound totally clueless when you’re talking to people who might be in a position to actually help you. It’s easy to google festivals that you want to submit your film to and find out whether they accept short films, or how many films (approximately) they program each year, or whatever. Do the work. You will seem 100% more professional if you do.
In the afternoon we met with the lovely folks at Epic Pictures, who recently picked up Another, the latest Ultra 8 Pictures acquisition. When I say acquisition, I don’t mean that we’re becoming distributors, or anything like that. I just mean we’re helping this orphan in much the same way as we did Manborg and The Demon’s Rook, with festival strategy, sales/distribution strategy (and matchmaking) and social media (we’ve got super-whiz Johnny Bunning on the case). Not to mention sage advice based mostly on Colin’s 13+ years of experience in the industry.
Screen Daily picked up the story about Epic snapping up Another. You can read it here.
In the afternoon we had another one of those private screenings in a room built for six. It too was sadly not a standout. Luckily, we managed to wipe all mediocre-movie-memories from our minds with the evening screening of Jim Mickle’s Cold in July. I can’t imagine this gem not making it to my best of the year list. Beautiful performances by Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson (that man has really still got it) and masterful directing from Jim. The film’s based on a book by Joe R. Lansdale, who was also in attendance. I’ve never seen Colin more starstruck as when he saw this white haired author step into the room. Cutest!
Sidenote: Got to see my absolute favourite translator, the woman who handles all the Directors’ Fortnight films. I blogged about her last year too, because she’s so fab. She always wears these frumpy yet effortlessly cool outfits and looks incredibly stylish and hot in them, and she never needs to write anything down and translates perfectly no matter how long the guests talk for. At this screening, everyone said a few words, in turn, and when it got to the end of the line, Don Johnson started by asking the audience to give her a round of applause for her mad skills (I am paraphrasing, though I do kind of wish Don Johnson had said the phrase “mad skills”). So, anyway. I’m not the only one who thinks she rules. Don agrees.
Went to Papa Nino’s for dinner (yes, again) with Maria (Estonia’s brightest firecracker) and then to The Station (Cannes’ most divey dive bar) for the annual Fantasia karaoke party, where I did not sing, but watched pals belt tunes, drank beer, and chatted about movies with a whole lot of lovely folk. Forget the glamour of the beach parties, with their bouncers and DJs and women in ten inch heels. This party is where everyone who I love on the festival circuit is most likely to be found, and it’s the most relaxed and friendly vibe within miles of the Croisette.
I was totally planning to go home after last call (Colin was tired and left a bit earlier) but the siren call of the Petit Majestic was too strong, and I got dragged along. The Petit (and the little place up the street from it) don’t seem to care much about observing last call laws, so it was probably 4:30am before I found myself strolling home with Ivy Lam, who is the mastermind behind my favourite annual Cannes & Berlin event, “Awesome Ladies Club”. I’ll be having oysters with a bunch of cool lady producers (and assorted other film mavens) later this week. You’ll hear all about it.