Pitching At Cannes 2003

James D Young

Talking Pictures alias talkingpix.co.uk






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Well the time had come we (myself and my son) were off to Cannes the greatest film festival in the world. Where the chic and beautiful people meet cheek-to-cheek, image is everything.

We found it hard to relate to this premise, sitting in closely grouped seats on our Easy Jet  flight from the John Lennon airport at Liverpool. Finally, departing a little late, now that’s a surprise and surrounded by screamers and cannabis - ‘I’ve got an appointment with this director’ ‘I’ve got this wonderful script’ ‘How long did it take?’ ‘only a month’, ‘that’ll do’.

My thoughts drifted off to our own offerings, the long preparation, slogging with three full-length film scripts, tinkering with treatments and locking in our loglines. Are we all going to the same place? Fatigue kicked in and I fall into a fitful sleep, now I know they weigh the excess baggage, but do they allow for bullshit? And how much does it weigh?

On arrival at the smart Nice airport we collected our cases and turned to see the whole Fame Academy circus swaning off swallowing their mobiles disappearing into the big blue yonder, never to be seen again. Is there a black hole between Nice and Cannes?


The plan was to take a day chilling out in Nice, to focus on our pitching and to put our long lines in order.  You could not help but realise what a beautiful place Nice is as we sat relaxing after a delicious meal with a couple of ‘tinnies’ gazing out onto the azure blue waters, smelling the ozones in the pot being smoked by one of the few other beach occupants.

We woke refreshed ready to do the business.  I should just say at this stage that neither my son or I speak a word of French, we are not proud of this but it says much for the French people that we managed to do everything we wanted and still enjoyed their company throughout our short business trip.

We caught a slow train from Nice to Cannes, which called at every little place along the coast.  On arrival at Cannes a large crowd shouting and clapping greeted us. We both thought this strange, as how did they all know that we were arriving today? - Two Yorkshire ‘F’ list writers.  It was some sort of protest, not sure if it was relating to the festival or pensions, we just gave it a gallic shrug and hurried on to the bus to our hotel. 

As this was our first visit it was hard to tell if it was busy, very busy or otherwise, as we quickly showered, dressed and then headed down to pick up our accreditation passes. My son had obtained one - his - but unfortunately not mine - so for two days all I could do was assist from the sidelines.  However, on the third day after proving that I was indeed a writer and on business I obtained a day pass. Whether it was the delay and just kicking my heels but I was eager to tee off correctly and I hit the runway running and missed all the bunkers. I found once inside the festival that it was just busy and humming but not unbearable so that you could meet people and make contacts.  I met some nice people who were enthusiastic and managed to create some interest in our scripts.


We both had no previous experience of pitching and we don’t think after one film festival that we know it all.  But we would offer the following hints in that they may prove useful to others. There is plenty of information about pitching out there on the web, that you can read, assimilate and extrapolate. Do try to be professional. The following is obvious -  know your script's loglines. Just look upon your pitching as follows - a short sharp conversation between two people with the feeling that the outcome is beneficial to all parties. It only remains for us to say that when you have been turned down several times to remember this thought that in this world of mediocrity, originality and talent are priceless commodities.

Everyone was very helpful and positive whilst I worked in the festival hall and village. My son worked the film companies in the hotels. 

As we flew back we thought of how good the trip had been all those treatments we had to e-mail.  Both of us tired but fuelled with adrenalin and ‘red bull’, and we know in Arnie’s words ‘ we will be back’ 
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