Ahh, day two. The most action-packed day of them all.
On Friday we had eight scheduled meetings, and the Directed by Women pitch session, which showcased seven early-stage projects by female writers/directors/producers.
I enjoyed the pitches and am glad that Frontières decided to boost female participation by including this session in the first place, but I wasn’t crazy about the format. The filmmakers had three minutes to pitch, and then got immediate feedback from a panel of experts – filmmakers, producers, sales agents and festival types.
In some ways, this was informative and useful, because the panelists had good feedback about the actual content of the pitches. But in other cases, it turned into a (very kind and gentle) critique of the person’s pitching abilities, which didn’t seem particularly fair, since these were all projects in their early stages and most of the filmmakers had little or no pitching experience. One thing that every shy and nervous person knows very well is just how shy and nervous they are. They probably don’t need it pointed out to them in an already high-stress situation, no matter how kindly.
The anxiety-inducing critiques aside, there were a few good comments and the questions from the panelists gave each person or team a chance to expand and/or explain their project in a bit more detail, which was helpful.
After the pitch sessions I headed to the meeting rooms to dive into an entire afternoon full of meetings.
Meetings are short (20 minutes – barely enough time for everyone on both sides of the table to repeat their well-rehearsed spiel) and they’re back to back. When the time is up, a bell rings and the tough (but very loveable) taskmasters of the Frontières staff make sure everyone gets moving and to their next appointment. Projects are assigned tables and they sit there all day. Everyone else moves from table to table when the bell rings. They run a tight ship, and bless their little hearts for it because everything would descend into instant chaos if they didn’t.
Generally speaking, the meetings went like this:
Us: Hi, this is who we are and what we do!
Film project team: Hi, this is a recap of our project and what we’re looking for!
Us: Thanks! This is what we can and can’t help with.
Film project team: Cool! Can we send you a script or follow-up materials?
[exchange of business cards, bell rings, aaaaand switch]
After a long day of meeting with the projects and also with other visiting producers, we took the elevator up to the rooftop and enjoyed the no-longer-muggy weather and beautiful views of Montreal.
One of the best thing about Frontières is the fact that every day of the market concludes with a networking cocktail at which you can reconnect with everyone you just spent all day with. It might sound redundant but it’s actually great.
One of the best ways to figure out whether you really want to work with someone is to combine professional meetings with quality social time. Sit at a table and talk hard numbers. And then have a glass of wine and chat about your favourite movies (or even better, something not movie related).
Making a movie takes a long time. You want to be absolutely sure that the people you’re choosing to work with are people you want to spend a couple of years with.
We decided to branch out into another part of Montreal for dinner, so we asked Frontières director Lindsay Peters for a vegetarian-friendly recommendation that would accommodate everyone. Her response was “this place has a great burger”. Bless! The place she recommended did indeed have a phenomenal burger, but also enough veggie options to satisfy our whole crew.
So, by way of Lindsay, I now recommend to you: Nouveau Palais. If you’re looking for very high quality comfort food in a no-frills diner and a cool neighbourhood, it can’t be beat. Go for the burger then walk up the street and check out the Drawn & Quarterly bookstore about a half-block away.
After dinner, I made our entire (very full) crew walk to one of Montreal’s legendary bagel places (we went to Fairmount, even though I’m kind of a St Viateur girl, don’t judge me) because our crew of American and Mexican dining companions had never tried this baked-good wonder.
This is one of my top tips for visitors who come to Montreal for Fantasia: EAT A BAGEL! THEY ARE VERY GOOD AND UNIQUE AND NOT LIKE OTHER BAGELS! REALLY, DO IT!
Sometimes I wonder if I feel more strongly about this than some Montrealers do?
After our “bagel dessert”, we walked a bit further to one of my favourite Montreal bars, Casa Del Popolo – a place that has remained almost totally unchanged since I used to visit (and occasionally play there with my old band) around 2002-03.
Here’s another great tip for festival travellers: talk about things other than movies. My conversations on Friday spanned every topic, from childbirth and parenthood, to illness, music, childhood, life and career plans, hobbies and so much more. The best way to make real friends is to actually delve a bit deeper into people’s lives and hearts than just what their favourite Carpenter film is. Although, we did also have a fantastic discussion later at the Irish Embassy about our favourite Carpenter films. Colin’s, for the record, is The Fog. Mine is Prince of Darkness.
As always, our night ended at the Irish Embassy, but we wisely chose to just have one drink, do a quick walkabout to say hi to everyone, and then go to bed. I know that there are plenty of folks my age and much older living it up until 3am every night at the Embassy, but I’m very much ok with my own days of near-all-nighters being over for all but the most special of occasions. I’m still chipping away at a year’s worth of cumulative sleep deprivation. Sleep > partying.