This was my first trip to the Cannes Film Festival.
I attended the MIPCOM (Broadcast Market) here in Cannes earlier – that’s when I decided that I had to attend the Film festival some day. Allu Sirish, the supremely talented Telegu star and my dear friend, messaged me out of the blue asking if I’d be up for a quick trip to Film Festival this year.
I replied affirmatively, and very promptly. Normally these kind of commitment don’t get materialised, but maybe our common sun signs helped 😜.
We decided to go without any agenda, just to feel the vibe and understand what the hype really is about.
After having spent the last 4 days here, I thought that I would share a few experiences and tips with those who remain intrigued by probably what is the biggest fanfare in showbiz!
Here are my 9 tips:
1. Plan in advance – Most important. You shouldn’t even think of being here without planning at least 6 to 8 weeks ahead of time. Maybe more if you’re here to do business. I’d have to do another listicle to say what you’d miss if you don’t plan in advance. In short – you wouldn’t get important appointment last minute. You wont get screening invites of good films and just forget any red carpet pass. The cost to stay becomes 5x higher closer to festival dates. There are thousands of media companies participating, who you could meet if you planned ahead. If you don’t plan, you’re probably going to spend you’re time here figuring out where the action is.
2. Get accredited – You have to get yourself registered with the festival online after paying a fee. Accreditation is only available to people having a film or media background. There’s no way you can move in and around the festival area without a badge (that you might have seen in my Insta stories). Even Ted Hope would need one. Another advantage is that you get the database of everyone visiting the Festival, so you could connect with them. I was pleasantly surprised with the efficiency with which I procured my badge at the venue. Just took 2 minutes!
3. Rent an apartment – Staying in a decent hotel will cost you bomb. There are thousands of good apartments within walking distance from the main venue, and trust me no one raises their eyebrows when you tell them you are staying in a rented apartment. I personally find them fun and exciting.
4. Be prepared to walk – I just received my first achievement medal on the health app for doing highest number of steps on a single day. Wear comfortable shoes and be ready to walk for miles. Walk from your apartment to the venue, from one pavilion to another, walk by the beach, walk for food. Just keeping walking. In case you hate walking – don’t come to Cannes.
5. Visit as many pavilions as you can – Spend ONE WHOLE DAY visiting the small booths from different countries. You’d find so many production houses participating with such a variety of different films. Don’t hesitate to talk to them to understand their cinema. Drop your visiting card (always keep them handy) and take theirs. And don’t forget to eat their candies. Sadly, I found almost zero participation from our country in terms of setting up booths. Though there are many Indian indie films in the market screening. It sends a clear message that young and the new indie filmmakers are doing the right things but production companies and studios are lacking vision.
6. You won’t see Penelope Cruz unless you walk with her on red carpet – Sigh! But that’s the truth. The A+ celebrities normally are only part of premieres. Access to those big-ticket event are usually very hard to get unless you know the route, and even you have got and invite – you’d need wear a Tuxedo. The good thing is – in case if you don’t have one, you can rent a Tuxedo, shoes too! The sight and scale of these events are majestic and unreal. To get a feeling of it, I stood near the security barricade of one of the premieres and it felt like watching a fantasy parade. The Red carpet is BLOODY RED. I witnessed glitz and glamour at a scale I’ve never seen before. Definitely as a producer, you feel inspired and start dreaming one day…
7. Know the regulars – This is a MUST for a first time visit. It would help you in many ways; specially for free cocktail parties of the various pavilions, knowing of important sessions, invites to the market screening of good films, and most importantly, introduction to many interesting attendees.
8. India pavilion is your pit stop – As soon as you collect your badge rush to the Indian pavilion. Drop there every day for once, at least. You would meet many familiar faces. Don’t be shy in introducing yourself and asking for help there. Great work by Leenaji and FICCI team for putting up a great show in such short time. India pavilion also did some important sessions. In fact, I was part of the one of the session with Prasoon Joshi and Vaani Tripathi and they showed great keenness to understand issues and made certain valid point. I am sure in future India Pavilion would emerge as a huge platform for our filmmakers
9 . Parties, Parties and more Parties! – You should pack enough of party smart pills because you will never return home without getting drunk. Even if you are not part of the celebrity party scene, the local Cannes nightlife is great during the festival and goes on till the wee hours of night. The crowd is young and from mostly from the media industry, so you’d connect fast and the place is very safe. Don’t worry about walking back, you would find enough taxis and Ubers to go back to your apartment. Just keep in mind that the next day will start early again, as people work only between 10 to 6.
Do write back with your comments. Would be happy to read them.
– Mahendra Soni
Follow me on Twitter: @iammony