Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chronicles 62 - Cannes 2008

I'm off to Cannes next week. So far I have about 43 meetings in 6 days and more to confirm so I will be hitting the ground running. May 19th will be crazy since I have 13 meetings in one day! Yikes! When I start scheduling, which is always early, 4 weeks before, I always think that maybe this time I will have a relaxed Cannes and just set meetings once an hour but once the campaign gets going that plan goes out of the window.

Once you get into meetings every half hour in Cannes you have to be careful about locations and make sure that you, if possible, schedule the meetings next to each other in the same hotel otherwise you'll find yourself running around like a sweating, puffing speedy Gonzalez. It also puts you under pressure in the meeting itself because meetings run over very easily in Cannes so if you're meet is late and you know you have to dash off to the other side of Cannes your meeting quickly deteriorates into a speed-dating scenario.

For me Cannes is a big networking opportunity. This is my 8th Cannes and in my second Cannes, or rather first Cannes where I actually had some kind of strategy and presented myself as a production company, I found a UK co-producer. That helped me progress the project along to a certain stage e.g. attach a director and then meet LA talent agents, casting directors and at one point the project looked like it was going to have a star attached but this didn't happen. Then the government changed the tax-laws, financing became difficult and somehow the project reached a bit of an impasse and the producer and I went our separate ways. Cut to last year where I managed to attach a US producer with a great track record and the project is now making some real progress again. This stuff takes time.

Also, my black comedy-drama project has taken a few Cannes to get going. In 2005 I went to Cannes to find a co-producer for the short. I met someone, had conversations, met at Cannes the next year but it wasn't really working out so I pitched another producer in Cannes 2006. They loved the project and the short film, which was intended as a showcase for the feature, was shot in October 2006. I then went to Cannes 2007 with the director and the short, which is one storyline within the feature, and we then managed to attach a New York producer with a great track record who is actually on set now with some major talent. After she came on board in June 2007 I delivered the final draft about a month ago and the producer has set up a meeting for me with a financier at Cannes 2008. Funnily enough, this script is based on the first play I ever wrote back in 1995! Did I say this stuff takes time?

I've got a great set of meetings this year, top production companies and financiers some of whom wouldn't meet with me normally as 'Joe Schmoe fledgling producer' I'm sure, but now that I've built up a team of track record producers around my projects I'm emitting some 'proxy heat'.

My main aim is to consolidate existing projects with existing partners and financiers who are on board, reach out to new financiers, pitch new projects to new and existing production companies and also possibly pick up assignment work as I did in Cannes 2006. I'm also meeting with animation producers since we still have a bunch of animation projects in my bag of tricks.

The animation projects have had their own history of 'Close, but no cigar' which has been chronicled in this blog. In Cannes 2006 I met a company who wanted to put a lot of development money into one of the projects and was about to sign a deal then they got cold feet on doing an animation feature. At one point Disney were interested, LOVED the ideas but that went nowhere and in Cannes 2002 a company wanted to develop one idea into a feature and then went bust! In any case, I keep on plugging away.

That's what this game is all about really, plugging away, despite all the obstacles so that you reach a point (to paraphrase the Business Consultant Jim Rohn) where time, fate and circumstances see that you've paid your dues and give you the greenlight. Hey, this stuff isn't going to bring about world peace or feed the hungry but it's a passion and, as Joseph Campbell says, in life, you have to, "Follow your bliss".

Ciao for now
SWU - swunderwoods[at]yahoo[dot]co[uk]