Surviving the Cannes Film Festival: 5 Short Takeaways from a Student’s Perspective

| June 17, 2016

Navigating through the hustle and bustle of producers and filmmakers networking at the massive Cannes Film Festival can be intimidating for a fairly new filmmaker. However, Paola Bernardini, a student filmmaker from the School of Visual Arts explains how essential it is to “schmooz” with the industry professionals and promote your work actively at the festival.

Paola shares her 5 short takeaways which she gained while screening her short film, Citta’ dei Sogni (City of Dreams), at the Cannes Film Festival 2016 in the Cannes Court Métrage Short Film Corner.

Figure Out Your Goals

Figuring out what your goals are before arriving in Cannes is a great way to stay organized and not get too overwhelmed. Your goals can range from getting your film distributed, to pitching your next project, attending workshops or simply meeting as many fellow filmmakers as possible and enjoying the festival.

Morning Screening at Cannes Film Festival 2016

Morning screening at Cannes Film Festival 2016

If your goal is to get your film distributed, then I suggest you look into short film distributors and buyers that will be attending the festival and email them ahead of time. Most of them probably have meetings set up a month prior to the festival. Remember to always include a link to your film and keep track of who you email so that you’re not being redundant.

Plan Ahead

Apart from figuring out your goals, I suggest finding accommodation near the Palais. I saw a lot of people walking around with an extra bag full of clothes–that’s because at night, the town is full of parties and events. You can also get a last minute ticket to a premiere, meaning you’ll need to change to fit the dress code ASAP.

Entrance of the Palais

Entrance of the Palais

We found a really nice Airbnb 10 minutes from the festival. It saved us from taking taxis and walking around with extra stuff. Backpacks and evening gowns don’t really go well together and it was nice walking around in heels without carrying an extra pair of shoes all night.

Paola Bernardini-DylanGantz.XavierDolanPremiere

All dressed up for the red carpet!

Use the Guide

My first day at the Palais, all I could see is a massive crowd running around like ants. If you’re lost and overwhelmed, take advantage of the information desk. Everyone was very nice and helpful. One of my obsessions was the guide book. In there you can find all the companies that were attending the festival, along with contact info and what booth they were at. I would take a picture of the ones that interested me, I went to find them, kind of like a scavenger hunt. Even if I didn’t have anything to offer them, I thought it was good to go and introduce myself because you never know who you’ll meet and what that relationship can lead up to.

The Guide

“One of my obsessions was the guide book.”

Get Schmoozing

Networking is essential to your filmmaking career and a ticket to Cannes is an open door to meet all kinds of people who are active in your industry. If you’re shy, don’t be alarmed because everyone there also wants to network, I found people to be very friendly. I learned a lot from talking to people who have been attending the festival for years.

Schoomz Time

Schoomz Time: How networking at Cannes can look like

Be sure you have your business cards ready. I found myself collecting so many business cards that a pen was useful to write something on it to remind myself about that person. Another thing I noticed while meeting other filmmakers were comments like “I just have a little short at the short film corner, nothing major.” As filmmakers, we tend to be critical with our work and that’s okay, but in a business setting like this one, understating your film probably won’t make anyone want to watch it. Be proud of your accomplishments. You probably worked really hard to get this opportunity!

Take a Break

Cannes has a lot to offer all day long. It can get pretty exhausting. If you get just as excited as me it will probably wear you out. Taking a break sometimes was nice. You can watch a film during the day or hop on the train and go explore another town nearby.

Enjoy the time you have in the beautiful city!

Enjoying the view near the Palais!

BONUS: Why did you choose to attend School of Visual Arts?

SVA (School of Visual Arts) is one of the best art schools in New York. There was a good balance between theory and practice. I was able to craft my own schedule and choose classes that interested me. It gave me all the opportunities and tools I needed to practice filmmaking like a professional, along with great collaborations and support from some iconic teachers.​

cannes student interview, paola bernardiniPaola Bernardini is an Italian director and producer based in New York. She holds a BFA in Film from the School of Visual Arts. Her thesis film Citta’ dei Sogni (City of Dreams) gathered the most awards in 2015 including an award from the New York Women in Film. During her stay in New York she obtained experience in filmmaking and theater production. Paola was born in Switzerland in 1991 and was educated in french schools around the world (Japan, Italy, United States) where she earned a baccalaureate in Economy. She is fluent in Italian, French and English.

Be sure to ‘like’ Paola’s film on Facebook and visit the film’s website to learn more!

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