“Outdo Yourself!” – 5 Short Takeaways on the Cannes Short Film Corner

| June 13, 2016

Curious to see what the dazzling Cannes experience is like for a student filmmaker? Recent graduate Dani Alava (University of Hertfordshire) shares his 5 takeaways from his unique experience at the Cannes Court Métrage Short Film Corner. From fully taking advantage of your accreditation to rubbing shoulders with distributors at nearby cafes, Dani reveals his exclusive takeaways while screening and promoting his short film, The Idea Thief, at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Promote Your Work (Actively)

The experience in Cannes was incredible. The first day we arrived to the festival, we were really overwhelmed by the Palais, the Market, the Red Carpet and the atmosphere. We were even a little bit sad because we did not know where to start; we, as short film directors, felt like ants before elephants… at the end of the day, we ended up in a Mexican cocktail lounge after having dispatched a lot of contact cards… probably the most fruitful day!


Credit: Dani Alava

Stay Focused and Visit Cafes

To be honest, I am not sure what I was expecting about the festival… I knew that there was going to be a lot of posing and attention around the glamour of famous people. Although it was a hypnotizing part of the screenings, I decided to learn more about the Marché du Film and make contacts with producers and distributors [from potential countries I could work with], especially Spain, Latin American countries, UK and the States. It was awesome to find out that a lot of deals were closed in one of the cheapest bars, Le Petit Majestic, where you could meet people from all around the world.

Take Advantage of Your Accreditation

One of the best things of having accreditation at Cannes is [being able to] watch Worldwide Premieres as one of the few, luckiest spectators who get to see these movies. And of course, the experience of getting onto the red carpet with a dress by a designer is quite hard to explain… I am not used to that, but in the end, it is undeniable that it is awesome to feel like a star for a moment. I got the opportunity to watch Goksung, the Korean film from the Official Selection, and The Red Turtle, one of the last co-productions of Studio Ghibli. As an animation student, that is one of the biggest privileges one can live for.


A dazzling red carpet experience!

Bring Proposals for Your Next Project

If I could rewind time knowing how the festival worked, I would have dedicated definitively more time to prepare a project to find producers and investors interested in it. If you have an open attitude to meet people, you can get to know awesome people that are part of the industry and that find your work good enough to take you seriously. It is incredible how many people can congregate in one city, all of them sharing their passion for cinema. In this sense, the Short Film Corner is a highly recommended section for aspiring filmmakers like me because it gives you a hint into how the industry works.

“Outdo Yourself”

All in all, what I learned about Cannes is that we are all trying to tell stories, each one with their own styles and codes. At the beginning, once you travel back to your country and get back to reality, you realize that you are just one more person who loves cinema and wants to make movies, and that can be depressing. But it the end, it also gives you a boost of motivation to outdo yourself and try to improve your stories, making them worth to tell, and to be watched and heard. That’s the magic of Cannes: once you have been there, anything seems less impossible to achieve.


The Idea Thief

BONUS: Why did you choose to attend University of Hertfordshire (UK)?

After finishing my Bachelor in Film, TV & Digital Media in Spain, I decided to learn more about animation, since my thesis degree project was an animated film, called Dummies. I received a scholarship that allowed me to study in the University of Hertfordshire (UK) for an MA in Animation where I got to know more about the processes in animation production, expanding my knowledge from a more technical, artistic and academic perspective. When I felt like  was not taking advantage of all the courses, I decided to partner with my Colombian classmate Juan Lozano, to produce a 3D animated [film] for the purpose of learning more about the different stages in an animation production and to distribute it afterwards to get the attention of potential employers in the industry. This is how The Idea Thief was born. Despite its simplicity in story, [it] is being received by film festivals all around the world. I think it is a concept that festival organizers and audiences like because it deals with the power of ideas and imagination. Studying abroad has helped me to open my mind and meet people from different parts of the world who share same passions like me.



Dani Alava was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain) in 1991. Thanks to several scholarships, he studied Film, TV & Digital Media at the University of Navarra, where he graduated in 2013 receiving the ‘Premio Extraordinario Fin de Carrera’ prize–an award given to the most outstanding student in the entire class. 

During his undergrad, he participated in several projects like the international feature film Blue Lips as a trainee assistant director as well as an awarded videomapping project in the international Lux Greco Contest in Toledo, Spain. He debuted as director of Caracola, an official selection in countries like Canada, France, UK and Cuba, and the first prize award at the ‘Festival Tiempo Sur La Palma 2013’ in Spain. His increasing interest in animation led him to direct Dummies, a CG short film selected in 45 film festivals around the globe and receiving 3 prestigious awards including at ‘Festival de Malaga’ and an Honorable Mention in the Manhattan International Film Festival accompanied by a screening in the United Nations. 

After moving to Madrid, he worked in various production companies and as a freelance short film distributor. He received a scholarship by ‘Obra Social La Caixa’ to study a MA in Animation at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, where he recently graduated in 2015. He wrote, produced and co-directed his most recent short film, The Idea Thief, during his graduate studies. He looks forward to work on new projects in the future.

Like The Idea Thief on their Facebook page and visit Dani’s website to learn more!

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