Showing short films at Cannes
The Cannes festival offers a series of sidebars to which you can submit a short film. But what happens if you didn’t get accepted or don’t want to go that route? How do you screen a short in Cannes?
First of all, be aware that the world and his dog will be trying to get people’s attention down there, which is fine. But many come with deep pockets and notably grab all the available locations.
A few thoughts: before considering the hassle and likely expense, try and identify the key element that would motivate someone to leave the Palais or a sunny terrace, hike for 5-10 minutes (possibly skipping lunch or an apéro) and watch a film by an unknown. That sounds dispiriting, but it’s just to give you an idea of the frame of mind of people in Cannes. Not just busy, but constantly distracted. You first need that hook to catch their attention.
First of all, don’t forget that the Palais can organise your screening, with prices starting at EUR375 for about 20 seats. Not many people know this. There are huge advantages to doing it in the Palais as people know it and its’ a turn-key operation. You won’t be fiddling with cables or DVDs yourself. Check for details here. Note that this is now reserved for sales companies. Do you qualify or know someone that does? People with badges can attend these screenings. You will have to organise something for those that don’t.
Depending on the scale of your project, you could also try booking one of the cinemas in Cannes. Advantage: people know where to find them. Disadvantage: they probably don’t have time and will charge you.
Thinking small at Cannes
My gut feeling is to organise a number of smaller screenings, so people can choose when to check the movie. The hotels have meeting and reception rooms. But don’t expect a bargain. If you know any companies going to Cannes, would they be willing to host your screenings or rent their facilities? I have on occasion “borrowed” time in the national pavilions. The ones in the Pantiero section tend to be less busy and might be open to someone bringing in people at off-peak times.
Getting more adventurous, a British crew used to run Cannes in a Van every year. They drove down to Cannes and screened shorts literally from the back of… their van. It was a fun idea. I don’t think they still do it. But it shows that it is possible to come up with novel ideas. Just bear in mind that anything you might do in the street will very quickly be noticed by the police. They won’t necessarily hassle you, but they will notice quickly.
Promotion: walking and talking
Concerning promotion, I have never done that personally. But you will obviously want to target people in your genre through the Cinando database. You will also carry flyers to hand out to absolutely everyone you meet, which means you will spend 16 hours a day walking and talking.
Another thing to remember is that the first weekend of the festival is by far the most hectic. People that stay after that have far more time to try something unplanned or which is less of a priority.
Good luck! If you have ever done this, please help the community by sharing experiences good and bad below.
While you’re here, do you know how to choose a hotel or apartment in Cannes?