Constant clicking of the keyboards, ringing of the telephones, and chattering of voices create a rather newsroom chaotic feel in the basement office of Raindanceâ€”despite the similar drone of the keystrokes, quite the opposition to the calm, relaxed atmosphere of the fourth floor, window-clad office of Raindance TV, my new home.
With sunshine shining through the windows of my office (only shared by one other intern!) at this very moment, the idea of working in an underground office seems rather dismal. However, the hustle and bustle commotion of Raindance emits a rather exciting, under pressure feeling that I thrive under. Both spaces, though quite different, provide for a unique, welcoming workplace.
Prior to starting as an intern at Raindance TV, my nerves took the best of me and my thoughts wondered to the worst possibilitiesâ€”running frivolous errands, making countless copies, fetching coffee and lunch. Would I become Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada, working under the tyrant Meryl Streep? I hoped not, but I certainly feared it.
After my first day at the office, my worries subsided. Friendly, helpful boss, a sense of actually being needed rather than an inconvenience, and constantly learning new thingsâ€”what more could I ask for? Being a new intern at Raindance TV makes me one lucky newbie. Not to mention, the no dress code. Anywhere I can wear jeans is alright by me.
In only a few weeks time at Raindance TV, I've gotten a feel for the company through daily interaction with employees and work on several projects. My first experience at an event, The Big Lunch Short Film Competition awards party, gave me a glimpse into both Raindance and Raindance TV. It seemed to me that the company motto should be work hard, play hard. As the awards concluded, the celebration continued at a nearby for a little after party celebration. I never would have anticipated my favorite night out in London thus far to be a work party!
I cannot wait to find out what the next three months have in store for me...
We're all back in London now, nursing a variety of alcohol-induced hangovers.
I spotted quite a few trends in Cannes this year, and will be writing them up in our weekly newsletter. If you want, you can subscribe here.
Two really interesting things, right off the bat: First - India is booming like mad and their presence in Cannes made a huge bang with the announcements from Eros and Lions Gate. And Hollywood productions companies of Clooney and Jim Carey have been promised a billion dollars by another Indian company - a strategic investment to guarantee product in the distribution pipeline. What wasn't discussed in Cannes, or in other newsletters and blogs, is how this was casued by the birth of Indian multiplexes and the collapse of the traditional Bollywood film. More on that another time.
The second was how American distributors are complaining of being over-loaded with product and are buying selectively, choosing films that service a niche audience, or that have a unique marketing hook. Looks like more verification of the Raindance mantra: Genre Genre Genre
Hope you have a great weekend.
- Elliot -
I returned from my first trip to Cannes a few days ago and I'm still feeling the effects on my body, my wallet, and my general sense of experience. Having visited no international film festivals outside of the UK I was uncertain of what to expect from one of the big boys, possibly the grand daddy of all things film.
The first element that struck me was the vastness and extravagance of everything, from the hotels, the hoards of tuxedos, the mile-long yachts that dominate the coast. It was a true visual feast that didn't just incorporate the abundance of pretty ladies gracing the Croissette. That said, you can understand how men like Woody Allen do so well given the amount of young girls begging, borrowing and stealing for the chance of an invitation to his latest, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. The man's doing something right... Seriously though the place is huge. The Palais, with it's lavish red carpet and enormous Lynch-designed decor, peers down at you as if it were the gates to Heaven. There's no way you're getting in there without a fight, or being very, very good. The hotels that look out onto the sea are a similarly great sight. The famous Carlton was transformed into the entrance to a temple from Indiana Jones, probably costing more than several hundred low budget films, and domineering banners from upcoming studio releases wallpaper the entire strip, giving you a taste of what will dictate the box-office in the coming year.
Given that Cannes is one of the prime showcases for new cinema each year, it's surprisingly difficult to see many films. There is such a hierarchy that unless you're mates with Harrison Ford's secretary's brother, it's unlikely that Indy 4 will be on your screening list. But as I'm sure many will tell you, the films themselves only make up a small part of the festival experience. At any point in time there will be some party or other happening either on the beach or at some exclusive club somewhere. Traveling mainly in a group of three men, there was a limit to the amount of parties we could get ourselves into, but the one's we did were something else. In a haze of rosÃ© and champagne I could never afford in real life, the BIFA party marked the showbiz highlight of our trip, with appearances from Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Simon Pegg. It was a small glimpse into the sort of Cannes people imagine before they've been, and it was a lot of fun. Other parties we found ourselves in included the New Producer's Alliance reception, which was graced by intense sunshine, and the Australian Film Commission party, where we found ourselves cheering with the Aussies at the announcement of 40% tax cuts on new film production brought about by a recent change of government. Alcohol does funny things to you in Cannes.
Ultimately, while I had a fantastic time at the festival I did feel like a small fish in a big pond. The sheer amount of people involved in all aspects of cinema is enough to make you feel like your existence is but a small blip, but at the same time it's a rewarding feeling that you contribute to it in your own way. I'm really excited for our own festival later this summer.
Last night when attending the Cinema de la Plage (outdoor screen) a camera crew asked in french if we knew Tcheky Karyo who was about to play. A friend answered 'yeah I'd do karaoke, sure!'.
Soon later we spent the following hour finding the shuttle bus to the Soho House do at the Chateau de la Napoule, but after arriving and having reserved were welcomed at the door by synchronised women with a power complex. Though we politely explained the member would be caught up due to the 4.28hr Che Guevara epic, they kindly gave us the finger. We later heard from other members who were at Century Club for most of the night that when calling to find out where the shuttles were leaving from were not helped (despite being members).
Heading back we stopped at a restaurant to notice Quentin Tarantino on the next table. Then we noticed it said 'nos pizza sont des demies lune' (our pizza's are halves) on the menu and made a subtle exit to end the night welcomed into the Nikki Beach Club set up in the basement of the Hilton. The drinks were so expensive that when we went to put down our glass a lady ran up to protect one she had left at the bar, craddling it because it had probably cost her her day's salary.
Keep your eyes peeled for 'Maradona by Kusturica', probably the best documentary I've seen this year (and note; I'm not even into football!). The big game also screened in M1NT, the American Pavillion and Century. Next time Chelsea!
Cannes is winding down today with many stands closing and most of the already scarce attendees jetting home. Yesterday a female friend was told by a producer to 'grow a penis and get a man brain' if she wanted to succeed in film which is actually quite an honest thing to say, as opposed to 'come back to my bedroom so I can tell you how to break into the industry' - which seems the reoccuring story of most of the 30 odd percent female attendees at the festival.
Lloyd Kauffman and Elliot
Something else which really pisses me off this year is the disgrace of the accreditation department. It seems that though there has been a record low attendance this year, an even higher percentage are complete incognitos with probably 6 out of 10 admitting their 'mate' put them down as a credit on a boring 'shot on a mobile phone' short in the film corner. I won't lie: I produced a short in the corner, but 90% of those there are celebrity obsessed students lying their way into the festival!
Last night was quite packed with meetings and functions at one point hopping to 4 within the same hour. As always Edinburgh hosted one of the best parties (they know how to feed people!) and later we dined with a director with a film in the Fortnight then passed by the high budget Babelgum party where Roederer champagne was being served in abundance.
I spent quite a while wondering whether to join a friend who was hanging out with Baywatch babes but stayed on the Hilton balcony at a wonderful Italian dinner. I later found out they were old...real OLD Baywatch grandmababes...
My trip to Cannes was pretty much the same this year except the weather was absolutely atrocious. One of the biggest draws for Cannes as a festival is the warm, sunny climate but I always found that aspect ironic given that it's hardly conducive to sitting in a dark cinema watching films all day long (which I don't think most industry types don't do anyway). However I found this trip refreshing as the unusually dire climate forced you indoors and really made people stop and reevaluate what the whole point of a film festival is about - watching films. Usually the number one question I get asked whilst in Cannes is "Which parties have you been to?" Everyone is trying to get a ticket to the latest Indiana Jones or Woody Allen premiere and it seems most of the people I meet there measure their experience at Cannes based on their blagging successes and debauched escapades with various Z list celebrities. While that element was still present this year, there were a lot more people asking me which films I had seen or intend on seeing which was a welcome change. Sadly, my trip was a short one so I didn't get to spend that much time watching films but I have hundreds of Raindance entries sitting on my television set at home waiting to be watched so I don't feel that guilty about it. And I'll most likely see many of those films anyway as some of them get submitted to Raindance. What I did take from Cannes were some great ideas that could be modified for application at Raindance this year which is really what I try and take from visiting other "veteran" festivals (you don't get to be a 61 year old event without doing something right).
However it's no surprise that Cannes is not the best festival for watching films. It's an unfathomably huge festival (the entire city and beach is consumed by it) and the viewing system is pretty complicated to get your head around. There's a real hierarchy at Cannes and unless you're at the top of that hierarchy it's actually pretty difficult to see films compared to other festivals like Edinburgh or Raindance. I find this really frustrating and can only wonder how much worse it will be as Cannes gets more and more bloated each year.
It isn't all bad though, in fact it's mostly good, and I'm certainly not complaining about the fact that I just spent the last four days putzing around the French Riviera. But if you're looking to really sink your teeth into a programme of films then I wouldn't recommend Cannes as the best place to do it. But If you're looking to make some great business contacts, bankrupt your savings account and have a lot of fun doing it then Cannes certainly is the place.
When I went up travelling in Scandinavia a few summers ago I was shocked to learn how strict it is to buy booze there. It's no wonder our northern friends are hosting yet another huge piss up tonight to celebrate..well.. being able to drink!
We were even more shocked last night at being turned down at some Polish function we were invited to. After hopping for most of the afternoon to some of the biggest functions in Cannes, arranging meetings and ideas flowing with some of the most influencial names in the UK, we thought it might be a cool idea to end the night with a quiet 'nobody will know us there' do. Instead to our shock the stalinist PR lady at the door exclaimed we weren't on 'the list' she didn't even look at.
Elliot and the founder of IMDB
The new street entertainment down the Croisette is the French 'Danse Tectonique'. It's the most ridiculous thing you'll ever see.
I told Elliot I would abstain from yapping about 'big' people in today's blog, but last night returning at the hotel I was welcomed at the door by this fat dude wearing only a g-string. Enough said.
Today's prioirty is booking a mentoring session with another of my childhood heroes - Spike Lee. If I can't stalk him down, I'll see him at the Babelgum party. You've heard of Babelgum, right?
- Xavier -
Today is my last full day in Cannes, and time to reflect.
I'm really glad I came again. It's the chance meetings and sudden opportunities that come out of nowhere that make me addicted to Cannes. Yesterday was a day of bumping into a bunch of friends I hadn't seen in ages. People like Mike Figgis - here to plug his film and to do some new digital talks at the UK Film Centre, Eugene Hernandes of indiewire - who also publishes the Cannes Market dailies, Peter Broderick - who used to run Next Wave, my favourite film company, Lloyd Kaufman - we showed a whole bunch of Troma pictures at Raindance, Stuart St Paul - director, writer, stuntman and philosopher extraordinaire, Jeremy Thomas - need I say more, Elisar Cabrera - sales agent, and Phil Hunt (now super successful). And this was just in a 2 hour period!
I have an early flight tomorrow, so right now I am debating whether or not to come back to this apartment after the Babelgum party (which starts at midnight) - or just go from there straight to the airport. I think I will take my lead from Spike Lee - where and when he goes, I go.
- Elliot -
In the bus there was a large lady claiming three seats to herself taking notes reading 'Techniques to succeed - simple tips'. Tip 1 lady: learn to share!
On that note, here are a few quick tips for Cannes from across the board for those here for the last week of the festival:
Johanna von Fischer (BIFA): Where to schmooze? Anywhere in Cannes. Running into people on the street is just a good a place as any.
Shane Danielsen (2001-05 Director EIFF): Quick tip: Don't rush to judgment. And remember: not everything is either a peerless masterpiece, nor a grotesque failure. Most films lie in between.
Wendy Mitchell (Screen): What to wear? Don't wear anything but the most comfortable shoes you can find. flip flops make you look like more of a pro than stilletos!
Zara Balfour (NPA, Picture on the Wall Prds): Where to eat? In the old town, Le Suquet
Yesterday some pavilion staff were walking down the International Village trying to sell Panama hats and we overheard somebody go '55 euros?! I can't afford that, I'm from Serbia!'. The ambience down the village is probably one of the coolest things about Cannes - especially when they host little friendly functions and have native foods...
The hotcake of the evening was the Indiana Jones premiere which unfortunately overbooked a few hundred seats so we were turned down at the door. It's weird thinking until I actually wanted to be 'him' until I was 7 - so hoping to catch the Monday afternoon screening.
Another thing I find pretty cool is schmoozing in the taxi queue: even though this is a huge wait everybody's always really nice and if you're out to meet people just hop in and out of the queue mingling! If you're lucky they might even be on the way to a party and take you with them - this happened last year and I ended up in the Golden Compass Launch/ New Line function!
Team Raindance: James Merchant, Jesse Vile, Joe Pearhouse, Suzanne Ballantyne and Elliot Grove in front of the Palais.
Last night I vaguely remember my flatmate screaming â€˜help Xavier help!â€™ at about 3am. When I ran up to her bed she was half on the floor and calmly went â€˜oh sorry, just had a nightmareâ€™ and made up some excuse the next morning about being excited about her first Cannes.
Later today I noticed the Marche had replaced these crummy robotic toilets to standard ones â€“ they used to be so clever the toilet seat lifted automatically when using it if it didn't like you!
The pain about Cannes this year was the rain: thereâ€™s always a day or two of it and this year itâ€™s been pouring down so the ticket I queued up for for two hours for "Lornha de Passe" ended up being unused as I couldnâ€™t stand the 10minutes in the rain in a soaking tux.
Hospital Club also hosted a funky memberâ€™s party where we met the guys of Soi Cowboy, this year headlining the Certain Regard selection and produced by ex-Raindance student Tom Waller:
- Xavier -
I saw the British debut film Hunger yesterday morning - the film by Steve McQueen about the torture of Irish prisoners in the Maze prison 25 years ago. I walked in five minutes late and thought the film was about atrocities in Iraq, or some such - until I realised that the United Kingdom, of which I am a citizen, was responsible. An awesome film, which is still with me.
Harrison Ford is still in town, following his film Raiders last night. The Croisette was even more jammed than usual and I was trying to cross to get to the Majestic to meet my MySpace friend, Edward King, when the limos stopped me. To my amazement, Harrison himself was sitting in one right in front of me - so close our knuckles nearly touched.
Another new Cannes acquaintance, a jouno for an infuential website whose name I will not mention here, was nearly in tears after the screening, however. And not in tears of joy.
The trade papers are wailing about how few buyers are here this year. Not true say my sales agent friends. it is true that some Americans haven't come this year because of the onerous exchange rate. Speaking of which, it has become really expensive here for British visitors as well.
Last night Team Raindance enjoyed frites and a rose or three up in the Old Town were we plotted global domination. It was a wonderful evening. This morning Joe, Jesse and James (the J Gang) return to London. Be nice to them for a few days, because I think they will still be pretty hung over!
- Elliot -
It didn't rain yesterday - it poured. Pretty much for the entire day - and night too. Poured so much my mobile got soaked and is now out of commission, making this my very first blackberry-free event. I'm truly wire-less! And enjoying it.
Last night I bumped into quite a few Raindance members including Tom Waller, whose film Soi Cowboy played in Un Certain regard section of the festival. "Just read the Variety review" Tom cautions. We've already seen it, and are pursuing it for the brand new 'Indie Auteur" section of the festival.
Next up was Geoff Searle who recently completed a feature in which he did everything - a world record we are told. Geoff has just returned from LA where he was on standby to appear on the Tonight Show - but was bumped each of the three nights he was there!
If Raindance ever creates a persistance award, it is going to go to Morrison Thomas, who was turned down not once, but 3 times for Cannes accredition. Following the advice of the Cannes Survival Guide, he was rejected with the ficticious actor' contract, then the newly created production company, and finally when friends with their own and totally legit production company invied him to join their crew, the Cannes officails declined, and emailed Morrison back the 3 application forms along with the 3 different photos for the badge! Undaunted he made a short film in order to apply to the Short Film Corner. He submitted it with 2 days to spare, but the courier lost it, and he managed to get a back-up copy to them with a mere 90 minutes to spare! His badge then dropped thorugh his letterbox, and believe it or not, yesterday he sold his short. A true Raindance success story!
Yesterday was interesting for me in another aspect - I didn't spend a single penny. I had breakfast at the apartment hotel where I am staying, and then consumed an endless quatity of canapes and champagne right up til midnight where I feasted on rhubard at the norwegian party!
Today in Cannes, for those up at the ungodly hour of 9am, it is gloriously sunny. With the weather report promising a mere 40% chance of rain, perhaps this is going to be the one good day of the festival, weather wise.
- Elliot -
The lack of sleep is catching up slowly. It doesnâ€™t really help when itâ€™s grey and raining , all the beaches and parties were soaking wet and this yearâ€™s been described by some as relatively quiet and slow start.
In the bus down to the Croisette some fat man decided his rest area was the most part of my upper torso. A friend took a few photos of him snoring though I didn't dare upload these.
Anyhow, in the meanwhile the BIFA crew were setting up for this yearâ€™s British Independent Film Awards Cannes party which welcomed Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Simon Pegg down at the Atrium beach - pretty spanking venue this year if you ask me.
We later made a trip town the Hospital Club off Rue de Commandant, usually based in Soho the members club set up down one of the trendiest streets and welcomes most faces and whoâ€™s who in British film.
After purchasing a Century Club membership in London, a friend and I were turned down at the door because we were there â€˜too late to collect itâ€™! No matter, the Hospital is the new place to be this year!
Ray Winstone and Elliot Grove
Stephen Wooley, Simon Pegg and Elliot Grove
John Hurt and Elliot Grove
This year seems no different: hundreds and hundreds of films vie for attention in the Marche du Film. The distributors here to pick up films are blasting the 'product' as inferior, in order to drive down the prices. The sales agents and producers selling bad-mouth the buyers. refreshing to see that some things always stay the same.
Interesting to note too, that Cannes continues to thrive, proving the need for an off-line bazaar in an on-line world. A few years ago, some industry moguls were predicting the end of Cannes.
Two movies getting great buzz, both of which I saw yesterday: Kung Fu Panda - hardly indie, but there were tickets available. I was mesmerized by it's unversal story. And it looks great. Later, last night, I saw the market screening of The Complete History Of My Sexual Failures by Chris Waite - a UK feature doc funded by WarpX. It ticked all the boxes for me, and it deserves to do really well, despite its low-res low budget production values (the musical score is fantastic). Chris has had a couple of shorts at Raindance over the years, and we wish him well.
- Elliot -
Last year I meticulously planned to catch a helicopter from Nice into Cannes. If it's any comforting, there was an advert for the helicopters plastered onto the side of the coach I took...I'm not too sure why it feels weird to be in Cannes - the first thing we noticed were huge pandas walking around with crowds gathering cheering 'Jack!!' (Black).Soon afterwards the paparazzi had amassed for the launch film 'Blindness', with screens panning the Croisette screening images of their jury and guests and tourists who could not get close enough photographing the television screens.
Former Raindance student David Woods will be appearing as a policeman in 'Attack of the Zombie Vampires' directed by Katherine King who will be in Cannes. Try and spot him in the film; he screams like a girl!
- Xavier -
With most of the office jetting off in the coming days, today was the last opportunity to skive off work for last minute shopping and sipping coffees in a backstreet nobody could see.
I hear the flowers they planted down the Croisette 3months ago are surfacing in time for the launch tomorrow and some have already put on their party hats. On that note I tested my new dancing shoes in the office but the boss insisted we were going strictly for work only, so he says.Until we join les frites and grenouilles, I must remember to bring that umbrella; it does (and is forecast to) rain in the French Riviera.
Keep your eyes peeled for Raindance fanatic Alanna Miejluk who is screening her first short Kite Hope in the Short Film Corner.
- Xavier -
We were a bit stunned earlier this afternoon. Wondering why the traffic on Oxford Street was so terrible, I starting cursing. Only when the news of an attack and murder, literally at the end of our street started to filter through, did Team Raindance sober up.
I started planning for this year's festival on the plane back from last year's spectacuar one. Back then, I envisioned myself weighted down with gold coins, and with my new shades and a bev, I imagined I would conquor the Croisette in a fortnight beyond compare.
Reality in the form of student loans has struck however, and although i have some money, the size of my per diem won'rt be turning any heads of the female persuasion, that's for sure!
Not to worry. Raindance member Rob Fairhurst has been forced to go it alone without his consort, and the 50 quid ticket, leaving Luton for Nice on the 20th, and returning on the 29th is yours if you email him and sort the dosh out.
The 61st Cannes Film Festival launches on Wednesday 14th on the French Riviera and so Team Raindance are jetting off this week to get you new movies, new deals and new cool stuff to offer you in the coming year. Weâ€™ll be keeping you up to date with all the gossip and funky news to hit the Croisette in the coming week and if you have anything to contribute please email us Cannes@raindance.co.uk.
Members and Cannes virgins, please check out the Cannes Survival Guide here.
In it there is a pretty cool list of many of the parties and events. Such as, did you know Dennis Hopper is there and celebrating his birthday?
And how cool is this? Raindance member Gary Thomas is going to Cannes and there was an article in yesterdat's Surrey Examiner. You can read it by clicking here.
- Xavier -
I'm packing my bags. Trying to find my bowtie and tuxedo. I'll be back tomorrow.
- Xavier -