Katie's trip to The Cannes Film Festival

the Video

the Lowdown

After winning the grand prize of Best Film for the National Film Competition, my short film "Joint Effort" screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the Marché du Film.  Yes, THE Cannes Film Festival!  As director and co-producer, I attended for the first time.  Follow my adventures day by day through Cannes in the posts below.

Currently in the middle of post production on my first feature length comedy film, I quickly cut the trailer for film entitled "One Hell of an Angel."  My hope was to find some foreign distribution for it and make as many connections at Cannes as possible.  I had a completed documentary feature film "My Toxic Backyard" to offer as well.  Then there was the short film "Joint Effort" which won the grand prize of best film in an international competition. Along with a slew of other shorts.

Joint Effort is a short, comedy film by Gorilla with a Mustache Films about a couple who accidentally receive a package full of pot, then I have to replace the contents when their dog eats it all. The team was joined by a few new comers for this project including David Schmitt of Acapella Audio who was miraculously found at the last minute on Stage32!  If you're into filmmaking and you're not a member, join up, it's free!

So armed with all these movies, new business cards, and a ton of dresses and shoes, I set off for the Cannes Film Festival 2014.

some Press

Here is a link to an article about the award winning short I directed and produced:


880AM the Revolution, Jeff Messer Interview #2 Gorilla with a Mustache Films by katiedamien

getting Ready

This is a sneak peek at the dress on loan from local Asheville designer R. Brooke Priddy with Ship to Shore.  Handmade, so comfortable and looks fabulous.  I'm so excited to wear this work of art on the red carpet!

Zack Russell did this to me.  How fabulous is he? You can find him and other amazing makeup artists at Makeup at the Grove Arcade:

day One

Was lost in travel.  Just something to keep in mind when making travel plans.

day Two
Flying in, I had a bit of an ordeal with getting to France. But it turned out to be a match made in heaven when I flew from London straight into Nice.  On my flight [I] saw not only Guy Pierce (who probably would have been completely cool but I was too intimidated by to even approach) but also Matt Smith — the new Dr. Who — who was super friendly and awesome. He was much more approachable, so [below] is his photo. Very nice guy. Finally in Cannes and completely jetlagged … will have more tomorrow. — Katie
Matt Smith aka The Doctor.

day Three

The big news of the day was the two parties we crashed at night. Lela and I went to a party hosted by Thailand. It was by invitation only and we were lucky enough to score two invitations standing in line! The princess of Thailand was there, there were live performances and films shown. We sipped our drinks and ate fantastic Thai food. Then it was off to the next big party of the night, hosted by Germany. We did not have invitations and were nearly stopped by security but somehow managed to finagle our way in. We hobnobbed with German filmmakers for a while, then strolled past the yachts before calling it a night. — Katie
Lela Winton and Katie Damien successfully crashing a party.

The party scene at Cannes at a private beach party.
day Four

I can’t believe it’s only been a few days — I’m starting to loose track. I’ve done so many amazing things at the Cannes Film Festival. Today, on a whim, Lela and I walked past the rows of multimillion dollar yachts looking for a man I flew in with who invited me aboard his yacht for drink. It was a very casual invitation and I wasn’t sure if we would ever actually be able to connect. Not only did he have us come aboard for drinks, but we met other amazing filmmakers, distributors and even a reporter from CNN. We had an amazing lunch followed by cheesecake and the strongest thimbleful of espresso I have ever had. We shared stories and screened a short film by one of the filmmakers. It was a phenomenal afternoon with a fabulous host! — Katie
Lela Winton and Katie Damien invited aboard a yacht for drinks at the Cannes Film Festival.

Rolling out new red carpet, because one cannot have celebrities walking on day old red carpet.
day Five

The most exciting thing that happened today was running into a man who we thought was Benicio Del Toro on the street, but who turned out to be a famous French pop star.  We chased after him like giggling little school girls and grabbing a quick selfie. He was very  cool about it, luckily we didn't ask him about his movies.

Today was my first day to walk the red carpet. Lela and I had to wait in the rain on the off chance there was extra space in an afternoon screening. We were lucky enough to get into a screening of Foxcatcher. Excellent movie.  I have never seen Steve Carell in that type of dark role and he was amazing. The screening was in the middle of the day so there were no stars around to join us in our walk up but still very thrilling to be walking on the red carpet for the first time. — Katie
Katie Damien, a gorgeous French pop star, Lela Winton.

Katie Damien and Lela Winton on the red carpet during the day, going to see Fox Catcher.

day Six

Today we screened Joint Effort for a packed theater.  People laughed and seemed to enjoy the movie. It was great to have David Ostergaard and Tina Herring join us, as well as Billy Goodrum, our composer. Billy also had another movie screening at Cannes. Lela and I went to his other screening, where Sophia Loren attended. She is amazingly beautiful at any age! A full and wonderful day. — Katie
Tina Herring, Lela Winton, Billy Goodrum, Katie Damien together at Cannes for an Epic selfie next to the red carpet.

Billy Goodrum, Lela Winton, Tina Herring getting ready to see "Joint Effort" on the big screen!

"Joint Effort"

day Seven

Spent a great day with David and Tina in nearby Antibes while Billy Goodrum did photo shoots, dinners, press functions, etc.  I finally got to wear my Ship to Shore dress for a screening. I turned many a head in it.

At the end of the day Lela and I  reconnected with our esteemed composer Billy Goodrum who you can see in red carpet photos standing next to Sophia Loren! I didn’t get to chat with her, but did speak with her director son who is charming and very nice even though he must have been exhausted. Billy, Lela and I went for drinks with the George Clooney of Italy, Enrico Lo Verso [see photo at top of page]. Oh la la was he handsome!  And so chivalrous, too. He escorted Lela and me home after he broke up a bar fight. What a man. — Katie
Enrico Lo Verso, Lela Winton, Katie Damien, Billy Goodrum, Vikas Patne.

day Eight

Today a young Frenchwoman (named Alice, pictured below) accidentally spilled her wine all over Lela’s dress. By way of apology, she got us two tickets to a red carpet screening premiere with celebrities in attendance. When Lela and I went on the red carpet before, it was early in the day and there were no celebrities or photographers around. This was the real deal. It was all at the last minute, and because I wasn’t expecting it, I was not properly dressed. I had to literally run to the apartment and back to get there in time. I put on my Ship to Shore dress again in record time. — Katie
Katie Damien on the red carpet for the evening screening of Jimmy's Hall.

Katie Damien, Lela Winton, and their new friend Alice Pigne.

Katie Damien in the Grand Lumiere Theater.
day Nine

Things are really starting to wind down for the Cannes Film Festival.  Lela and I went to the Marche du film, but found it fairly sparse. After playing around in the press conference area, we decided to do a little sightseeing. And who should we meet at the top of the tower at a museum, but the very people we were looking for earlier: film distributors (below). We exchanged cards and even showed them our trailer on the iPad we are always carrying around. We ended the day with a beach screening of Pulp Fiction introduced by none other than Quentin Tarantino. It was a great end to a great day. — Katie

day Ten

On this, my final day at Cannes I find myself reminiscing over the time I’ve had. It all feels like a wonderful dream that I don’t want to wake up from. I’ve had drinks on a yacht, crashed parties, met celebrities, seen amazing movies and walked the red carpet. And I’ve made so many great contacts in my time here. Today was a day of movie watching. I saw tons of short films and made it to the last feature film, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigsby.

I could not have hoped for a better experience here. I am now full of excellent food, Wine and wonderful memories. When I get home I will begin contacting the many people I’ve met here. I hope that every filmmaker has the opportunity make it to the Cannes Film Festival. And I hope to return again soon. — Katie

in Conclusion

Go.  Just go.  Especially if you want to make a feature film.  There's nothing like the mecca of all film markets to teach you about the business of film.  And if you're taking a big working holiday, might as well be on the beautiful French Riviera.  There's glitz and glamor and crazy parties all the time, but there's also real deals being struck and real film buyers, makers, and players everywhere.  If you have a film in the festival, you're golden.  Even a film in the short corner counts for something (not as much as in competition, but that's okay.)  If you have this opportunity, don't pass it up.  Make it happen, you won't regret it.

the Inside Scoop

Your badge matters, it's the only thing that will separate you from the throng of regular people trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity.  The color of your badge also matters, we learned to look for black badge wearers to talk to.

Talk to everyone, everywhere, all the time.  It's exhausting, but imperative.  Everything amazing that happened to me always seemed to happen because I struck up a conversation with a stranger standing in a line somewhere, or getting coffee, or even waiting for the bathroom.  It's not just parties where you need to mingle, be prepared to talk to every person you see.  You never know who that person will turn out to be.

Pay for membership to a pavilion.  It's worth it.  You'll need a place to get some wifi, sit down for a second, maybe grab a quick bite. Plus it's easy to meet other film people hanging out at the pavilion of your country of origin.  But visit other pavilions too, if you get the chance.

Break in your shoes before you go.  I ended up walking barefoot on the streets of Cannes because my feet hurt so bad.  I'm very glad I had a pair of comfortable and fashionable shoes I could wear during the day.  You can never over dress, but you can under dress.  If you aren't wearing the correct attire, you might not get in to certain places.  At any time of the day you could be in formal wear and no one would look at you strange.  Wear nice things, it matters.  I had lots of help packing the right outfits and I was so grateful!

If you are lucky enough to get onto a celebrity red carpet screening (and this might not happen at all) you must be on time, and you must be in formal wear (for men a tux, women formal gown, heels and make up.)  They will turn you away if you are not dressed nice enough, they don't care who you know, or what kind of ticket you have.  If you are even one minute late, too bad.  They won't let you in.  And pee before the movie starts.  If you leave the theater, they won't let you back in.  There are guards standing at all the doors.  They will frown at you as you exit and they will refuse to let you reenter.  I managed to see 2 movies in the main Lumiere theater.  One of them was by waiting in cold rain first thing in the morning on standby.  So you might try the standby lines early in the morning if there's a movie you really want to see.  You should see something in the Lumiere theater because it's really quite grand.

You can sleep when you're dead.  Go to the parties you can crash, stay out late and get up early.  Make the most of your time.  Have drinks and be social, but don't drink too much.  You need to stay alert and you don't have time for a hangover.  Drink lots of water.  I always carried a small bottle with me and refilled it as often as possible.  If you can crash a party, there will probably be free drinks, so don't buy any drinks unless you have to.  Wait till you can get it for free and trust me when you get in, the alcohol will be flowing.

Everything is expensive.  Just be prepared to be shelling out a lot for everything.  Go to a grocery store in the beginning and get yourself some snacks, if you can.  Eat breakfast before you leave each day, grab a sandwich on the street, then eat out at a street side restaurant (walk down Rue Meynadier, it's not as picturesque as Rue Saint-Antoine, but the food is just as good, if not better and it's a little cheaper) because even though you're paying a premium, the food is so good, it's worth it and you just have to enjoy some French cuisine while you're there.  Try to have dinner with some film market people, they'll have to eat eventually and it's a good chance to chat with people who honestly don't have time to talk to you.

Get a place within walking distance to the Palais.  You're going to pay more for your room, but trust me, it's much better than trying to take the train or a bus in and out everyday.  You'll make up for the expense by being able to walk everywhere.  And you can walk everywhere you need to.  Check out Air B&B and don't wait to book your place.  Everything fills up quickly.  Some places are booked a year in advance!

Be charming and fun and don't sweat the small stuff.  If something doesn't go your way, c'est la vie.  Have a good time, soak it all in, take lots of pictures and hang on to the connections you make.  Enjoy it, there's nothing else in the world quite like the Cannes Film Festival.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Zack Russell, Ship To Shore & Katie Damien:
A trophy winning combo.