You need a strong nose to survive the Cannes film festival because the b** s*** starts on the plane and doesn’t let up the whole time you are in the palm tree paradise.
Just as every bar tender and waitress in Hollywood is an actor awaiting his/her big break, so every shmuck walking aimlessly up and down the Croisette in Cannes is a ‘producer/director.’ By the end of the second day you cold cheerfully strangle the next person who wants to tell you all about the screenplay he is ‘working on.’
Yeah right. Working on in the privacy of his basement where most likely it will stay and gather dust while its creator finally takes that job in accounts that will pay the bills.
I don’t want to sound mean; having a creative bent can be hell if you are constantly frustrated in your ambitions but have this compulsion to produce art. The point is, Cannes is both an inspiring and heartbreaking place for wannabe film makers. And forget the fake excitement about the 5 minute short they’re working on, every film maker there really wants to be a feature film maker. And why not? That is the ultimate dream. But the sad reality is, that save for the lucky handful who will go onto make some sort of career in the film-business, most of those soaking up the sun on the beaches of Cannes or sipping ludicrously expensive drinks at a plush bar hoping to bump into Harvey Weinstein will never make it.
That’s where the insipiration/heartbreak comes in. At Cannes you can feel you are part of the film world because the backdrop is so beautiful and you can almost the touch the stars and movie moguls as they strut around the red carpet of the Palais de Festival but it’s all an illusion. In reality the stars and moguls have only just popped down from Mount Movie Olympus for a few moments to mingle with the plebs who give them their lifestyles. When it is all over, they will return home and be as untouchable and unreachable as ever.
That business card you pressed so eagerly into the hand of the man from Fox or Columbia will most likely be lost and the great idea you shared with a financier at the party you gate-crashed will be forgotten the moment he downs his first glass of pink bubbly.
But enough doom.
I love going to Cannes. i’ve been to many times now but undoubtedly the best trip was the first. My best friend and I decided to go ‘for a laugh’ and because we fancied some sunshine. Those are, I’d suggest, the best reasons to go to any place, especially the Cannes film festival. And as a result we had great fun.
Watching the identikit leggy blondes trying to pass themselves off as actresses to sneering filmmakers we naturally took umbrage when we were asked in turn whether we were actresses.
“We’re producers.’ I said airily. Yes, I know, I know. It was meant as a joke. We never thought anyone would buy it. But people did. And once you start a joke, well, you can’t stop. I confess I may even have said something about ‘doing something with Susan Sarandon’ but I’d really rather not talk about that if you don’t mind. Oh. alright, I really should otherwise you’ll think I have absolutely no ethics to speak of. The truth is, I was, at that time, in touch with Sarandon about a book a friend of mine was writing and the actress did send me a very nice letter. But I’ll admit, that didn’t mean I was making a film with her as my comment might have implied.
In fact, I wasn’t making a film with anyone. But the implication was enough to get me and my friend into some very swish parties and that’s all that counts in Cannes.
Yes, I did feel guilty for weeks afterwards when filmi types kept calling me to ask about the ‘project with Susan’. I think I eventually came clean. I said the entire cast and crew of the film had been eaten by the real sharks we were using for authenticity, on the first day of filming and there would be no Susan project. I then hung up and changed my number.
Other less fraudulent celebrity stories I can tell are of bumping (literally) into Ralph Lauren on the street, nearly tripping up poor Sissy Spacek as she tried to cross the road and stumbling into a cab with Samuel L Jackson. I’ve also sat on a wall gazing at the beautiful blue sea only vaguely aware of the stunning older woman sitting beside me. As I moved away I saw that it was the legendary Faye Dunaway.