Cannes Short Film Corner – SFC Breakfast

Earlier today I attended one of the Short Film Corner SFC Breakfast sessions. For those who have a film in the Short Film Corner, you are registered on a number mailers detailing various activities going on throughout the festival. The Breakfast’s are a series of “speed dating” style meetings where filmmakers get to pitch their film’s to distributors, television aggregators and screening venues for 5 minutes in a free-for-all roundtable breakfast setting.

I thought it was a good event, and I have some promising leads for my new short once its released. To be successful, you not only need to have artistic vision, good story telling abilities and all that. You also need to be a solid business person (or work with one). I can’t stress the importance of meeting people face to face in an event like this over blind email submissions.

Some of the companies represented at my sessions were:

    SHORT TV AND SHORT HD
    L´AGENCE DU COURT MÉTRAGE
    FESTIVAL DEL FILM LOCARNO
    TV3 TELEVISIO DE CATALUNYA
    DAZOO FILM AND MEDIA LTD
    etc…

Below is a copy of the email I received informing me I’d been selected

from: sfcbreakfast <sfcbreakfast@festival-cannes.fr>
to: sfcbreakfast
date: Sat, May 12, 2012 at 6:26 AM
subject: May 20th Breakfast Confirmation – Short Film Corner

Dear participant,

We are glad to inform you that you will be able to attend a Short Film Corner breakfast on Sunday, May 20th at 9 a.m.

This session will take place at the Terrasse du Festival (in the Palais des Festivals, Level 4). Please make sure to arrive on time.

Due to a very high number of requests, please note that:

– Only one person per request and per film will be accepted. If you have asked to attend with one or several collaborators, please choose only one person to represent your film.

– The breakfast time and date will not be subject to any change.

Looking forward to welcoming you in Cannes,

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Review – The Skin I Live In (2011) – dir. Pedro Almodovar

Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In (2011)
2011 Sony Pictures Classics

During the Cannes Film Festival, if you miss one of the red carpet premiers all is not lost. They replay all films that appear in the main competition at alternate venues on the final Sunday of the festival. I had the pleasure of seeing Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I live In starring Antonio Banderas at one such venue.

At the risk of giving too much away, The Skin I Live In is the story of a brilliant plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Banderas) who has developed a new type of synthetic skin impervious to damage. The new skin doesn’t burn, it prevents mosquito bites and can be used in skin grafts for burn victims. His invention is a true medical breakthrough. Apon announcing his findings to the medical community, Ledgard’s colleagues plague him with accusations regarding the nature of his tests and things are further complicated through a link between his work in progress and a personal tragedy. Parallel roads cross paths when Ledgard stumbles across a botched burglary and he is forced to take action.

It should be known that my vagueness above is deliberate. The Skin I live In is a wonderfully complex tale, and unfortunately such a short description doesn’t do it justice. My goal was to avoid spoilers as best as possible. Hopefully my review will peak your interest and act as encouragement to see this film for yourself. If it’s not already understood, I think it was great and highly recommend it. It’s not often a film has such a lasting effect.

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

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Coup de Pouce workshop РCannes Short Film Corner РCourt M̩trage

As part of the Short Film Corner, the Cannes Film Festival offers a series of panels and workshops for young filmmakers. I applied and was selected for one such panel. It was called, ‘Coup de Pouce’, which roughly translates to ‘helping hand’ or ‘a push in the right direction’. My advisor was Roland Nguyen, head of the short film acquisition at France 3 television; we discussed short films and the viability of sales in an ever-crowded marketplace.

The majority of Nguyen’s advice was from a Francophone perspective. That said, the recommendations were still applicable for sales outside of French speaking markets. He said: concentrate on visually stunning productions; work with a distributor if possible, don’t try to sell your film yourself as buyers often purchase shorts in blocks; and not to spend too much time on broadcasters, focus on the internet and new media. Directors can rely on gimmicks to create buzz around their films. For example, a filmmaker offered a €100 prize via twitter to one lucky fan who both watched and shared his film. Finally, he suggested not worrying too much about recouping investment in your short. This should be the springboard to launch your career.

French television is one of the largest buyers of short films in the world. However, to receive government funding they are required to purchase a certain amount of French films. After that, they concentrate on French speaking nations like Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. Then finally, they look to the rest of the world for content. So for us in English speaking regions, it’s not the most viable game plan to try to sell to French TV.

For English speaking content there are opportunities at the following stations: BBC [UK], Channel 4 [UK], Movieola [CAN], Sundance [US], IFC [US].

While the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival is a great place to land a sale or distribution deal, Nguyen stressed that the premier venue is International Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand. Clermont-Ferrand takes place in the winter before Cannes and it’s the largest short film market in the world. He asserted that you should contact your prospective buyers months before the event. You can find contacts in databases like Cinando. And plan to attend; you will strengthen your chances of success by meeting with buyers in person.

In closing, the Coup de Pouce was a great experience and I would like to thank the Cannes Short Film Corner for selecting me. It’s nice to be able to speak to someone on the other side of the fence and hear the perspective of an actual buyer. And finally, I hope those who read this write-up find my notes useful.

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