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.