Cannes confessions, #1: top tips for festival virgins

16 May

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sun has finally burst through the clouds, and I’m sitting writing this by a pool on a hill with a view of the white-walled town and the deep blue sea. Yes, you can be jealous now, because I’ve finally made it back to Cannes for the Film Festival.

The last time I was here, it was 1997 and I was Editor of Time Out, with VIP access to all the most glamorous parties. It’s a great story, and I’ve just written about the highlights, plus an account of last night’s star-studded opening gala, for the International Business Timeshere — you should definitely read that first.

Now I’m in Cannes as a film-maker, with Colonel Badd, a short comedy I co-wrote with the director Tony Errico, accepted into the Short Film Corner. (More about Colonel Badd, which takes the form of an interview with a retired supervillain, here.)

Cannes is a crazy, wonderful, chaotic festival which every aspiring film-maker should experience at least once. I had very little clue how it worked before I rocked up yesterday. But I’m learning fast. Here are my top tips so far:

— Accommodation. I found a terrific two-bed flat near the Palais for £800 a week. Cheap by festival standards, when prices triple, but not so stupidly cheap as to be suspicious. I discovered too late I’d been scammed. Police and banks alerted (gosh they move slowly in a crisis), but money I think irrecoverable. The next cheap flat I found, for which I was also asked for a bank transfer, I Googled the owner, found her office number, and talked to her secretary to make sure. Top tip: Book very early (or very late) for the best deals; find flatmates to book an apartment or house with rather than get a hotel; try to be within walking distance of the Palais.

— Transport. Flying is cheaper than the train, but the coach from Nice to Cannes is a nightmare. Three times as many people as there are seats crowd into a disorderly queue. You’d think they might put on more than the usual half-hourly coach on the opening day of the festival, but no; everything in France is “réglementaire”, by the book, whether or not it makes sense. In my desperation to get to the Palais before accreditation shut I overcame the problem, I am ashamed to admit, by jumping the queue. And even then I had to plead with the driver in French that my “compagnons de voyage” were already inside, as they wouldn’t let me on with luggage. Top tip: don’t queue by the bus doors; go round the side and get your bags in the hold sharpish. The driver calls for people with stored bags to get on first.

— Accreditation. Cannes operates on a complex system of colour codes and badges, with access to certain areas and screenings and not others depending on your status. Without accreditation, all you can do is chat to people in bars. Top tip: Make a short film and submit it to the Court Métrage/Short Film Corner, and they give you two accreditations. Thank you Tony Errico for mine.

— Screenings. This works on a points system. They started me off with 100 points, plus I get 2 extra points for every hour spent in Cannes, like a casino loyalty programme. Popular screenings at popular times cost 100 points; others cost 50 or even 30. It actually makes a strange kind of sense. Until I discover that Tony Errico, as producer, gets none. Go figure. Top tip: You usually book from computer terminals inside the Palais, but now they also offer an app that lets you book from your iPhone or similar. You can only book 24 hours in advance.

And that’s enough for now. Right, I’m off to see where this wild ride will take me… Click here for my second despatch from Cannes. Plus photo-gallery here.

Advertisements

7 Responses to “Cannes confessions, #1: top tips for festival virgins”

  1. paul wiilkins May 30, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    great blog Dominic! Paul@starfishfilms.co.uk

  2. dominicwells May 30, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Thanks Paul! I like the sound of your Celebrity Killer film. Fun to get real-life celeb cameos if poss. Knock-out poster image too.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Las Vegas poker: my guide to the top 12 places to play | London, Hollywood - June 10, 2013

    […] I have temporarily misplaced my Cannes Film Festival diary, so the tenth and final entry must wait (for the first Cannes entry, click here). […]

  2. Film networking events: where to booze and schmooze | London, Hollywood - July 5, 2013

    […] this that I got to collaborate with director Tony Errico on the short film Colonel Badd, which we took to Cannes this May. They also hold regular “real-world” pub drinks, in London and […]

  3. #10: Secret Cannes Diary of a Time Out Editor, Aged 33¼. Spice Girls v James Woods! | London, Hollywood - July 25, 2013

    […] my 2013 Cannes blogs, click here. Final 1997 extract […]

  4. Colonel Badd: out-takes from our short, showing at Cannes | London, Hollywood - July 26, 2013

    […] Cannes 2013 reports start here. My diary extracts from the amazing 1997 Cannes Film Festival start […]

  5. The Cumberbatch tapes, #4: Spielberg v. Madonna | London, Hollywood - July 28, 2013

    […] I’ve had some great feedback on Twitter (@DominicFilm if you want to Follow me) regarding this interview series. Benedict is lucky to have so many appreciative fans! Thank you, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Come back next week, when I will be reporting from the Cannes Film Festival. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: