I cant believe we shot Fear of Water in 2014 and Its now days away from being 2016 and I am still working hard on achieving the goal I set out on in 2013 which was to make a film that people would actually see. Making a feature film really is a minimum of three years and you have to be incredibly passionate about what it is your trying to do because you literally do loose masses of blood, sweat and tears in the process. Oh and money. I set out on the basis that we would take the film to Cannes as soon as I had finished the edit, we would get sales and distribution attached and then I would sit back and enjoy watching the film on the various different platforms. This couldnt be further from what happened.
The first Cannes I went to with my Co-Producer Rebeeca Tranter was an exhausting process. You have a badge that costs you a few hundred pounds and this gets you into a three story bulding and each floor is full of different companies sitting behind their booths and displaying the posters of the films they are trying to sell. I must have been the youngest and smallest person there but I made myself look as tall as I could with my flats. The first rule of Cannes - wear comfortable flat shoes you will be doing A LOT of walking. I took my ipad with the trailer on and a handfull of flyers.
The first few pitches I was shaking with nerves and found it rather terrifying. Mostly because the film means so much to me and therefore the stakes are so high. I had been working on getting this together for the last 2 years and been dreaming about it for the last 10. By the end of the week in Cannes I had pitched the film a million times inside the building plus hiked up and down the entire strip of Cannes and entered into all the hotels.
You see its not just the Marche building you have to go into but along the entire beach strip there are hotels. And this strip is long. So walking from one end to the other is a 20 minute walk. And as the universe would have it your get one meeting at the top and your next will be at the other end. Outside the hotels they display a banner of the company that is inside. This is incredibly helpful and as soon as I sussed all this out I used it to the best of my abilitly. Some of the time I was lucky to get meetings with them by contacting them from the 10 stone book of contacts they give you at the start of the festvial. And other times it was waiting for someone to come out the hotel before grabbing the door and acting like you totally belonged there. And yes I did take it upon myself to barge into Warner Brothers, Universal and 20th century Fox, pitch them Fear of Water and then listen outside for their paper shredding machine to start up. Although I never heard back from these people I was suprised you could just waltz up and at least give it a go. Having said that I'm sure those people manning the desks were not the deciders but you never know!
So after the long days of meetings, pitching and barging into doors. We then took advantage of the free drinks and networking events that were from 4pm-7pm. Most of the people you meet are unfortunately in the exact same position as you. Either trying to find sales and distribution for their project or trying to raise finance to make it. Still its good to meet people and discuss, exchange cards (this you do a lot so take a big bag!) and make contacts that could be useful in the future. After this the real parties start and its all about getting your name on the list. So again networking is crucial. In fact at Cannes your most powerful weapon really is your voice and how good you are at dealing with hangovers! The parties are pretty great, hotel roof tops, yaht parties, beach parties. A lot of them are free drinks so you can imagine most meetings in Cannes happen from 10am the next day. No one wants a 9am!
By the the end of the week we had 3 companies that had shown some interest in acting as our sales agents which was pretty disappoiting considering how many people I had pitched to. Eventually only one came up with the goods and wanted to sign the film up. We were in a vulnerable position with only one real choice and feeling like our options were limited. I wanted to hold back as I got a feeling they were trying to pressure us into signing a contract before we had any real idea of where they saw this film placed and what value they had placed on it. However it was a decision I could not make alone and due to AFM drawing near we ended up signing and hoping that it meant deals could be struct there.