Cannes 2016: The final tally


It’s November now, and time to bring our recap of this year’s Cannes Film Festival to a close.  In another month or so it’ll be time to start planning for next year’s Festival – it may seem a bit premature but the quotes for accommodation are already starting to come into our inbox.  Time to start lining up projects to take to market, but before that, we’ll take stock of everything that happened in the aftermath of the Festival.

In the week that we were there we made approximately 60 new contacts: swapping business cards, shaking hands, clinking glasses.  When we returned we went through the process of contacting these people, and out of that list we received roughly a dozen or so replies.  Of those we are probably in regular contact with three or four people now.  It seems like hardly anything, given the amount of work that went in to the project, but any single contact could be worth a lot to us, depending on where they lead.

We met with the sales agent for our documentary feature I Am Dracula and gained a new Executive Producer for the project based in Romania, who will be able to provide in-roads to the country when we come to produce the film.  We made contact with a co-producer in Morocco who will be helping us produce a feature-length drama that we will announce at next year’s Festival.  We now have contacts at the Maltese Film Commission who will be assisting us with a second feature-length drama at some point in the future.  In fact, we managed to build a healthy group of contacts within film commissions in and around the Mediterranean who we can turn to should we ever want to film in their respective countries.

The hardest challenge following the Festival has been keeping the momentum going.  Projects wax and wane, the political and financial landscape changes, and life generally gets in the way.  It’s a case of spinning plates and juggling balls at the same time, keeping the various projects afloat and inching slowly towards production.  Attending festivals and markets gives you great intel into changes in what is probably the most unstable industry of them all.  And using that intel can help you weather the storms and keep your projects from going under.

What will we do differently next year?  We’ll consider going for the duration of the Festival.  It’s worth the expense.  If we only go for a week it’ll be the first seven days as opposed to the last.  Everything tails off during the second week and for the last two or three days the Marche du Film is like a ghost town.

We’d also look at booking some kind of meeting space somewhere.  The pavilions can be very busy places to work from, especially if your meetings clash with scheduled events.  It’s also important to make time to see the films – after all that’s what the Festival is about.  This year we only managed to see one film during the whole week we were there.  What’s the point of all that work if you can’t play a little?

Some last survival tips to finish off:

  • Make sure you have a sturdy, hard-shelled suitcase.  One of ours got ripped open on the return journey, with some of the items from the Festival now missing out there somewhere.
  • Check your local film commission or arts association for travel grants.  There are many opportunities out there for funding from charities and NGOs to ease the burden of attending, especially if you’re traveling long-haul.
  • Don’t carry everything everywhere.  Go easy on your back!  After a day walking the length of the Croisette your laptop feels a lot heavier than when you picked it up first thing in the morning.  If possible, get yourselves a tablet or rely on your smartphone – just remember your charger!
  • Prepare for blisters.  Can’t stress this enough.  You’ll be on your feet all the time so make sure you look after yourself!

Above all, the one thing we would recommend to other filmmakers is to GO TO CANNES.  It is the most important market event in the film calendar – not necessarily the Festival itself, but the Marche du Film that accompanies it.  The Short Film Corner, the Documentary Corner, the Producer’s Network and all of the pavilions at the Village International – all of these are a must-visit whatever stage you are at in your career.  It’ll cost a pretty penny, but it’s worth it.