Cannes you believe it

Each year some 4 000 journalists from around the world descend upon Cannes at film festival time. Their main objectives are to see as many films as possible and get good interviews which, from what I hear, is much harder than it sounds. Everything has to be officially set-up and policed through PRs.
What we mostly see at home is the whole red-carpet Hollywood glamour thing. But what exactly goes on behind all of that?

The town is literally humming with the global film industry’s great and good and, therefore, bursting with the opportunity for thrusting young producers to do more business in a week than they would usually achieve in six months. Fortuitously for me, three film producer friends of mine will be seizing these very opportunities at Cannes this year and they’re taking me along for the ride.

This will be Pikka and Philippa’s third trip to the Festival and this year will be crucial to the development of their feature film about Salvador Dali, Little Ashes. Pikka and Philippa set up their production company Wanton Muse just over two years ago (Moira, the third Muse, joined a year later) and they went to the Festival for the first time in May 1999. They had set up meetings with a lot of European production companies - one of which was Amsterdam based Egmond, who were particularly impressed by the Muse’s sketchy one-page outline for Little Ashes.

One year later, when Wanton Muse returned with a screenplay, Egmond came on board as co-producers. They agreed to put up 50% of the $10m (£6.6m) budget and brought in Academy Award-winning director, Marleen Gorris (who won the Best Foreign Film Oscar for Antonia’s Line and also directed Mrs Dalloway). The financial backer behind Wanton Muse’s start-up, Tony Defries (a music manager best remembered for discovering the likes of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Stevie Wonder), is putting in a further 10%.

The plan is to start shooting this coming September. As a result Pikka, Moira and Philippa will be going hell for leather in Cannes to attach cast, meet sales agents, executive producers and get that final 40%. With US cash and actors likely to be off limits due to the strikes, this will be even more challenging. Thank goodness Jude Law is a Brit, because he is their number one choice to play Dali.

And so it is that, whilst only a few weeks ago I was lamenting missing the Oscars on TV because I don’t have Sky, tomorrow I’ll be on the French Riviera, sipping champagne at the premiere party for Baz Luhrmann’s latest offering, Moulin Rouge (starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor and due for UK release later this year).

We have to meet as many people as possible and schmoozing is an essential part of that. Pikka is a card-carrying member of London industry hang-out Soho House, whose Cannes boat proves popular with the top dogs so we’ve a little head-start there. If all goes well, there will be many, many meetings - especially this weekend when the director, Marleen Gorris arrives for a few days. I have no idea what to expect but suspect that it will definitely beat watching the Oscars on TV. I’ll keep you posted

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