It’s all over the celeb news this week about the star-studded events at the Cannes Film Festival. Every year that I see these, it brings back memories from the year that I had the opportunity to go to the festival as a student and young filmmaker. It was an absolutely incredible experience and going back through these pictures brought back memories of the hot Mediterranean sun and the blue azure water.
When I first arrived, it was a few days before the festival, so Cannes was still a relatively quiet town. They were starting to put up the Pavillion tents (which you can see behind that orange roof.) One night we were out for dinner and even saw them bringing in huge planters with whole trees in them to go along the main roads.
Overnight it turned into a busy and bustling city with people from all over the world.
Including these yahoos. These girls were my lifeblood during the festival. My bunkbed roommate, Lauren (right) from San Diego and her good friend Alex (center) the cutest thing to come out of Cincinnati. I apologize for the blurry picture, but I think that it is actually symbolic of all the chaos and mayhem that we caused.
We were all there as part of the American Pavilion Student Filmmaker Program. There were about 150 students from all over the world participating and we all worked for various American companies at the festival.
I was lucky enough to land a job with B.D.Fox, an advertising agency from Santa Monica, California. My boss, Brian Fox, was the creative brains behind the advertising and marketing campaigns for films like Batman, E.T., The Matrix, Harry Potter, and many others, including one of my favorites, Steel Magnolias 🙂 Basically, my job was to maintain our little office, set up meetings and lunch dates, run errands, typical personal assistant tasks. The difference was that my office was in a TENT on the MEDITERRANEAN! You literally stepped off the patio into sand, which is just on the other side of that TV Screen on the right that says “DVD” on it. I would eat lunch with my feet in the sand while watching Elton John’s boat out at sea. Very surreal.
I can’t remember which one it was. Probably the biggest one. He is notorious for his huge parties while he is in Cannes. I guess my invitation got lost. We could have done an awesome duet of “Bennie and the Jets”.
This is the big Palais, where are the big screenings are done. Just under that large sign is where the big red carpet gets rolled out for the premieres.
Here they are putting the red carpet on the steps. I’m sure that is a huge task, because you don’t want anyone to trip and fall. I actually got the chance to walk the red carpet for one of the films, and it was the most terrifying experience. You’re first corralled into different lines by people with big walkie talkies, who then direct you when to go. Then you start walking alone down this agonizingly long carpet with blinding lights and photographers snapping your picture over and over again. Then you have to attempt to gracefully making it up the stairs without a) tripping or b) running like the wind because you’re so spooked. Despite being a notoriously klutzy blonde, I made it in one piece.
Here we are on the stairs after they are all done!
And a few hours later, on those very same steps, there is Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Jean Reno for the premiere of The Da Vinci Code. So now, remember how I talked about my fear of walking the red carpet, well it was also because I knew that EVERYONE in Cannes can see you when you are walking it. And then when you finally get inside and get to your seat, you realize that EVERYONE inside has been watching you too. Just a wee bit nerve wracking. Good thing my dress rocked!
My job gave me the chance to walk around and explore Cannes a little bit. One day I had to go drop off some materials at the Ritz Carlton, and there was a huge commotion of photographers and fans outside of the hotel. I had my access pass, so the security let me past, and as I was walking through the doors, Beyonce was coming out and it was just pure mayhem. Snapping cameras, people screaming and me dashing in the doors. Do you see a recurring theme? I don’t like festival photographers (I have a good story about falling on my butt in front of some of them at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but that is for another time).
Every apartment and hotel was covered in signs for movies coming out, or companies that were visiting. People rent out their homes for the festival and then go on vacation to avoid the crowds.
One of my other roomies, Jamie, eating some nutella gelato. She was a great girl that was an absolute blast on the trip. Unfortunately last year she was in a fatal car accident in Maryland, just two weeks after she married the love of her life. They had just started dating about six months before I met her at the festival and it was all she could talk about. It was agony for her to be away from him this long, but we had a great time exploring the town and the nearby islands.
This carousel was right by the sea and played movie theme songs all day. See all the film posters?
Being students, we were sometimes invited to special screenings aimed at our age group, including the premiere of Kevin Smith’s Clerks 2. While he was giving his big talk at the beginning he gave a shout out to the Canadian television show “Degrassi” and I was the only person to yell “woohoo”, at which point he says “And there is the only Canadian in this audience”. I actually had a chance to briefly talk to him, and I think I have a little bit of a cinematic crush on him.
We also had the chance to attend lunches with several young actors, including the adorable Rachel Leigh Cook. Upon meeting her in person, I forgave her for She’s All That. Recently I saw her in Canadian film called All Hat that was really great. If you have a chance, go rent it!
My other job while I was at the festival, was working for Adobe in the Reel Ideas Studio. I was teamed up with Taylor, a Texan debutante and Ishan, a South Indian whiz kid with the camera. It was the summer that An Inconvenient Truth was coming out so we made our documentary news clip about the ways that the Pavilion was becoming greener. We also had plans for a short film on trying to find Tim Burton while we were there, but by the time the deadline rolled up we had nothing. Then on that very same day (my birthday no less), I ran into Tim Burton in line for the washroom. It is one of the few times that I have been tongue tied around a famous person. I literally did the awkward hand wave and “hi”. And then told him about the short film, which he said he could have helped out with if we’d found him sooner. Oh well, I still got to meet him, and on my birthday no less! (I just leave out the part about waiting for the washroom).
One of the bonuses about working with Adobe is that they had an amazing house up in the hills, with this incredible view of the festival below. And this infinity pool was calling to me the whole time, but I forgot my swimsuit, and didn’t feel up to braving those crazy winding roads with one of the Vespas. So I just settled for sticking my feet in the water and enjoying the view.
Stay turned for Part Two tomorrow!