Guest Article: What To Do At Cannes If Your Short Got In

Festival de Cannes is a massive film event, where filmmakers from all over the world come together for ten days. They show their films, sell, discuss, network, share knowledge in workshops, and of course, spend some time in South of France.

Since I finished the final cut of my film Parents, which had the amazing Cinematography work of  Tobias Deml, I started researching for all sort of ways to find public venues to exhibit it in. That’s when I found out about the Short Film Corner at Cannes 2013. It’s a category for beginning film-makers to screen their shorts parallel of the competition. They provided two passes for the entire festival, and when I got the confirmation that my film was accepted, I was in the middle of my semester term at SMC. As the festival happens in France, I didn’t even consider the possibility of attending. For my surprise, my brother, in Brazil, strongly encouraged me to not miss this opportunity. He just graduated in a medical school, and had nothing to do with film industry, but he was able to show me a brighter perspective in attending Cannes. In retrospective, I can confirm he was right.
Attending the Festival, basically, gave me opportunity to represent my work among the other filmmakers there, and break the ice of approaching filmmakers from different levels in the industry. Also, it was very important for me to gather press for my film – it’s an international student thing. The momentum of the Festival was an incredible experience that gave me some insights about the film industry.
I have lived in Los Angeles for almost three years by now, and I thought that I had a good perspective on a variety of cultures, due the amount of foreigners living here. But in Cannes I could realize a more extensive the range of cultures, united by a single purpose. There wasn’t a predominant nationality in the crowed, they could be from anywhere in the world. It was very moving to see the amount of different kinds of people taking the art of cinema so serious as they do in Cannes – it brings out the significance of our work, often diluted by conduct of the industry.
Thales in front of the Cannes Festival.

Thales in front of the Cannes Festival.

At the same time, the space for negotiation is wide open. There’s a substantial film market composed by distributors, production companies, and agencies. They all are looking for deals with anybody that approaches with a nice project. There’s also a fair with the film commissions of most the countries in the world (including Austria, of which I took a picture for Toby). They are trying to attract productions to their countries, promote their own films, and mingle with film professionals on the various parties.

The festival offers infinite possibilities through the insane number of activities happening throughout the festival. There’s no way to participate in all of the activities; many are happening simultaneously. While features and short films are shown in different theaters, fireworks are being released over the beach, which can be seen on the top of a hotel where a party with producers is being held – that sort of simultaneousness. It’s very important to plan ahead for attending the activities that will best benefit your purpose of being at the festival. You have to do that before landing in France – which I obviously didn’t do.

The Short Film Corner - a great place to show your film when you are starting out!

The Short Film Corner – a great place to show your film when you are starting out!

When I landed on the airport of Nice, a bunch of photographers and reporters were cluttering around an actor in my arrivals gate. I quickly found out that Justin Timberlake was on the same plane as me. Right in my first minutes in France I could have a sample of  what Festivals de Cannes is known for: The Glamour.  It  really is an aspect that arises from all the films, the theaters, the many parties, the fancy hotels, and the beautiful backdrop of the French town. The city is surround by the astonishing Mediterranean Sea, the hotels and the parties hosted by them are remarkable, and the films lined up are very intriguing. That all sounds very fun and exciting, and it really is – but that’s where the danger lies hidden…

…It took me one and a half days until I was able to actually reach the festival itself.

The language barrier, scarce commuting system, and a heavy jetlag were the main factors that delayed me so close to the goal.  After I reached the Palais de Festival, the big main building where it all starts, I could not stop thinking about coming back there next year, but come way more prepared.
Going on a trip like that is very overwhelming – especially while being in the middle of my school semester, writing another script, and working on side to pay my rent. I also had to organize my brother’s flight from Brazil, which was a bit tricky. Cannes is a very small city, their inhabitants don’t quite speak English much, the hotels are expensive and the taxis and public transportations are not the best. Trust me, it takes a lot for someone who lives in LA to complaint about any public transportation. If you’ve lived in the City of Angels, you know what I mean.
I was able to book a cheap hotel about 6 miles way from the festival, but the one-way taxi ride to the festival matched the price of my hotel per night. We ended up renting a car, which was the cheapest and most efficient way to commute in Cannes.
Preparing for the festival doesn’t just mean preparation for the trip itself – you have to prepare for the festival activities just as well. There’s a whole program schedule along the week that can be very beneficial for the short-filmmaker if he/she knows how to take advantage of it. Before the festival starts you should schedule your activities beforehand; that could be a meeting with distributors, screenings for your film, workshops with festival juries, and attending screenings for the major films on the competitions. It’s vital to organize  everything with the focus of your project that’s bringing you there – this focus will help you to get the most out of Cannes.
The festival can represent different things, depending on what are you looking for. All kinds of people attend it, and they get different impressions from it.
We are able to make any endeavor well worth it if we want to, but I truly believe that Festival de Cannes is an experience that no filmmaker would ever regret of being part of.
Thales Correa studies at Santa Monica College in Los Angeles.
Being a young director from Brazil, he recently got accepted to the Cannes Short Film Corner 2013 with his film Parents
He also initiated a Suicide Awareness Team at SMC in spirit of his film, and is now working on his next screenplay.
Check out his work on the film’s facebook page.