Cannes Film Festival – 7 reasons for writers to attend

Cannes 2019The annual Cannes Film Festival is the annual melting pot for film financiers, producers, distributors, talent and filmmakers. Tens of thousands descend on the small city of Cannes to celebrate cinema and to do deals.

Writers are often less gregarious than their filmmaking colleagues and tend to shun the glamour and sizzle of Cannes. There are, however, seven reasons writers of all forms of content should check out Cannes Film Festival.

1.Cannes is a good marketing exercise

The hype and glamour of Cannes is used by film companies to raise awareness of their upcoming films. Writers can learn from their filmmaking colleagues about how to use the powerful tools of publicity and marketing to promote their own work.

2.Cannes film market is where the business of film happens

There are two parts to The Cannes Film Festival. First, there is the festival with all of the red carpet screenings, the celebrity interviews and of course the parties. Other than rubber necking and trying to catch a glimpse of a big star, this is of little use to a writer.

The part that really interests me is the film market – the Marche du Film. This is where all the ‘action’ happens: film sellers meet film buyers. The similarities between your local vegetable market and the Marche are surprisingly similar. Sellers lay out their wares. Buyers browse, poke and prod and haggle over the price.

It is here that writers can gauge the market trends of what is selling, what types of topics and genres are in demand and what different territories are looking for.

It was at this year’s Marche that I found out that the once-dynamic Chinese market is crumbling due to the impact of the Chinese/American trade war.

3. Cannes is a great place to become pitch perfect

The Marche itself is gigantic trade show – with over 1,800 exhibitors or sellers vying for the attention of the 6,500+ film distributors from around the world. In such a noisy environment a filmmaker needs to be able to pitch their film in a short and succinct way in order to srtand out form the crowd.

Pitching is the most under-rated and most-ignored skill any writer needs to master.

Raindance holds “Live!Ammunition! Pitching Competition on June 24th. It’s your chance to pitch your story idea to a panel of film industry experts – these are the ones who decide which stories get made into movies and which ones get on TV and into cinemas. Come along and see how others pitch and learn. If you are brave enough, why not have a ‘go’ yourself? Collab Writers did it last year during the film Festival.

Details of Live!Ammunition! and tickets HERE

4. Cannes loves a visual image

Whether a film is being promoted on Netflix, your local cinema or in a film market like Cannes, an important asset that needs to be created is the poster, or campaign image.

A great exercise is to look at movie posters – and book covers – to see which ones stand out and then to try and analyse what it is about them that works: the title, typography and the different design tropes that are used.

One of my favourite movie bloggers, Stephen Follows, has analyzed facial recognition as a poster source with fascinating research that could also be used for character development.

5.Cannes is all about the networking

The creative industry is a people industry. It’s not what you know but who you know. If you want to get your book published, if you want to get an agent, if you want your idea turned into a movie – you need to meet people and earn their respect and trust.

Not every venue has a red carpet but Raindance does have red velvet seats and the cute but perfectly formed Library Club. To get comfortable with meeting people and speaking about your creative passions, try hanging out at networking events like Collab Writers monthly meet-up on the first Thursday of every month, and Raindance Boozin’ N’ Schmoozin on the second Monday of each month. Both are here in London – before the year’s out both will be hosting events across the pond.


6. Cannes is about understanding the commerce

Writers like most filmmakers often have no idea at all about how books and films are sold and distributed.

Books, like films are sold to territories. Each territory has publishers and distributors. Cannes is where you go to meet film distribution companies from all over the world. Each distributor looks for specific films: documentaries, educational, narrative and so on.

The same for authors. The London Book Fair each spring is a must for writers too. Here there are hundreds of publishers looking for new material and agented and self-published writers to learn from.

Try and understand the commercial needs of a publisher and learn to tailor your pitch and presentation to them in order to minimise their financial risk.

That’s exactly what filmmakers do. They learn to de-risk their projects.

7. Cannes deals in genre not drama

Nobody in the film industry buys drama. It’s too general a topic. Are you making a crime, rom-com, sci-fi or children’s movie?

The same might be said for authors too. What exactly is your book about? Can you sum up the genre in one or two words?

This is probably the most challenging thing for a new writer or filmmaker to learn. You simply cannot sell a drama. You need to create a genre. When you have tailored your story to fit a genre, implement some of the pitching and marketing tips I have mentioned above and start to get people talking about your work, then they will send the limos.

Everyone is crying out for content. And you are the content creator.

Happy writing.

Elliot Grove, founder Raindance Film Festival


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