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Salisbury University Goes to Cannes


Nick Hobbes, a double major in English and CMAT, on his experience at the famous French Film Festival.


June 22, 2012



During the Spring semester of my junior year at Salisbury University I decided to study abroad on the French Riviera. At the end of my program I was given the opportunity to apply for an internship at the Cannes Film Festival. Being a film and media production dual major I naturally jumped at the chance and was fortunate enough to be chosen as an intern for ‘2 Bulls on the Hill Production.’ With the festival at its end, I would like to briefly share my experience during this one in a lifetime opportunity.


Behind the Olympics, the Cannes Film Festival is the second biggest press event in the entire world. It is the most prestigious and well known film festival in the world and boasts a long history of showing remarkable films. Celebrating its sixty-fifth festival this year, the event once again took the entertainment world by storm as 22 films in competition all went for the highest prize awarded at Cannes- the Palme d’Or. These 22 films offered a variety of talented directors, as well as a large amount of star power for the festival. Being on the French Riviera, it is easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of the Cannes Film Festival. The outside world sees a lot of what I talked about above. They watch the stars walk the red carpet, directors in interviews, and the outrageous parties that happen at night. What most do not see, or even know about, is the other side of the Cannes Film Festival- the market.


The market is where all of the trading, buying and selling of films takes place. The Cannes Film Festival is such a huge event that it naturally attracts all of the major media companies, making it the perfect place to do business with clients from all over the world. The market is where I primarily worked. 2 Bulls on the Hill (the company I interned for) had two films they wanted to sell the international rights for – The Rescuers and After Fall Winter. My primary assignment was The Rescuers, which is a feature documentary on genocide. Buying and selling films sounds a lot easier than it actually is. First you have to make a database of all the buyers, then you have to narrow said database down to only potential buyers. After that you have to contact these buyers- whether it be by email, phone or in person. Some will say they are interested, some will say no, and some will say maybe, and from there, you set up meeting times. This was all done before the festival actually started. When the festival started the director of The Rescuers came and I was assigned to be his personal assistant. We had a screening for the movie on May 22, and the objective was to get as many potential buyers as possible into that screening.  It was a lot of tedious work, but definitely worth it. Marketing and communication is such a huge aspect of the film industry so to put those skills to the test in a real-life scenario provided a lot of insight into the business side of the film world.


I was also given the opportunity to actually film the red carpet on the night of a premiere with the latest CANON cameras. The night I filmed was for the premiere of David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson. Everything about the red carpet is flashy and glamorous, and even more so when a big star is walking down it. There are hundreds of flashing camera lights and thousands of screaming fans. The whole experience was pretty surreal and definitely something everyone should aim to do at least once in their life, even if it is at a smaller red carpet event. I also attended a day premiere of Mud from director Jeff Nichols. Based on this one film it is easy to see why being selected to be in competition at the Cannes Film Festival is such a big deal. And with so many stars attending it was fairly common to be walking or passing right beside one (I ran into Zac Efron 4 times!).


All of these are phenomenal aspects of the festival, but the best part is just being immersed in a community of people working in the career field I want to be in. Every person I talked to had advice to offer or opportunities to give. There are representatives from all over the world, so it makes it easier to make connections. I am a firm believer that the entertainment business is about who you know, so making connections is key to succeeding. With that in mind I encourage every film student to attend film festivals. They provide you people and experience that a classroom can never truly provide. Use the classroom and studies as your foundation, but get into the industry and start to really build your career.