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Special Feature: Rebecca O'Flanagan's Industry Diary from Cannes
09 Jun 2011 :
Rebecca O'Flanagan
Having worked as producer on films such as Rubicon’s ‘My Brothers’ and executive producer on Conor McPherson’s ‘The Eclipse’, as well as producing IFTA award winning series ‘Your Bad Self’, Rebecca O’Flanagan has a wealth of experience which led her to be selected to be one of 25 producers taking part in the Cannes Producers on the Move programme.
Rebecca kept a diary of her experience documenting her actions and thoughts at Cannes as Ireland’s Producer on the Move. Her diary is published below:

The run-up to Cannes always seems to approach like ground-rush.  May is almost half-way through the year so it seems like an age away until suddenly Berlin is over,  March has disappeared and Cannes is looming without accommodation or meetings organised.  This year marks my ninth (!) consecutive year in Cannes.  And that seems like a very long time to get on “the move” but better late than never.  In my defence, the first couple of times where with the Film Board and once was on the skive but that still makes this my 6th proper Cannes.  What have I been up to all those years?

For friends and family the annual Cannes trip often draws an envious response - understandably most people have visions of red carpets and glamorous, star-studded parties on the beach.  The reality for most producers is very different – there is often very little crossover with the festival and an awful lot of shlepping the length of the Croisette multiple times a day, usually in the heat, sometimes a little the worse for wear, and often behind schedule.  The best advice I can give anyone attending the festival as a producer is to wear runners:  the wrong footwear (particularly for the women) is a common and painful error.

DAY 1
Friday the 13th of May
Heading over to Cannes always begins a bit like a school trip – various producers, directors and Film Board execs begin to gather around the allotted gate.  This year the flight is mid-morning – very civilised compared to the usual 7am flight so everyone is perkier than usual.  We (myself and producer Rob Walpole) arrive in Nice – it is predictably sunny and pleasant.  We have our first meeting in the cab from the airport to Cannes with Emma Scott of the Film Board.  It is good news – the project we have been developing with Stephen Bradley, Wayfaring Strangers¸ has been successful in its production application.  A good start. 

We arrive the apartment – it was booked last minute and it seems we have lucked out.  It is a bit small, a bit smelly, a bit spartan but the location is great!  Right in the port, 2 minutes from the Palais.  We head over to the Palais to get our registration – thankfully painless.  Wayfaring Strangers  has been announced in the trades today and word travels fast.  A lot of chat about it, which is great.  We have one meeting in the early evening and that’s it for that day.  Head over to the old port for dinner with Stephen Bradley.  Every intention of a very early night.  Get sidetracked into an after-dinner drink on the terrace of the Grand Hotel.  This is a regular sidetrack, by the way.  And it is usually the social hub of the festival for filmmakers and financiers.  It can also be a bit of a time warp and it can be hard to escape.  Tonight it is a very successful departure time of 12.30am – result!

Johnny Depp Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz and Johnny Depp

Saturday the 14th of June
An early start:  the routine begins… Meeting to meeting - usually either in temporary offices somewhere along the Croisette or on the terrace of the Grand. It is thankfully gloomy and not too hot though.  The market feels busy and upbeat.  A definite improvement on the last couple of years.  The trades are also upbeat about the state of the industry.  From an Irish point of view, the buzz on Rebecca Daly’s film The Other Side of Sleep is very positive.  Sold out screenings mean I did not get to see it but the coverage is widespread.  The day is long and busy but very positive.  Tonight is the Film Board reception on the beach.  I have time to quickly get back to the apartment to shower and change and then back onto the Croisette.  I am late of course.  Unfortunately my passing through the crowds in front of the Palais coincides with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz’s arrival on the red carpet.  There is a huge surge forward in the crowd and I get crushed, with no possibility of moving anywhere for a good twenty minutes. 

The Board party is busy:  James Morris and new CEO James Hickey both speak and again the mood is upbeat.  As well as The Other Side of Sleep there is great anticipation for the competition screening of This Must Be the Place later in the week.  Unfortunately most people will be gone at that stage.  Amongst the chat, there are A LOT of jokes about being on the move…

Speaking of which, the first dinner is tonight.  The idea of Producer on the Move is that each country in the European Film Promotion group chooses a producer to represent their country and there are a number of networking events held and there is also profiles in the trades every day.  The dinner tonight is in a delicious seafood restaurant and is our first meeting.  The restaurant is warm and again I am a bit late but the group is friendly and fun.  Post-dinner, I meet up with French co-producers and sales agent on Wayfaring Strangers but eyes…are…closing…

Sunday the 15th
The morning is taken up with the round table networking event for PoM.  Everyone in the group presents both themselves and their upcoming projects.  Fascinating to hear about all the work, industry and innovative ways that is taking place in our industry around Europe.  It is clear that people with drive and passion to tell stories through the medium of film will find some way to make it happen, regardless of available resources. Very happy to be included in this group of impressive filmmakers.

The Other Side of Sleep
The Other Side of Sleep

In the afternoon, the regular meetings continue.  Feet sore now.  There a couple of parties/ receptions on the beach that evening.  These parties are not parties as one would generally recognise them:  there is still a lot of business talk, pitching, negotiating.  From the festival, there is s lot of talk about We Need to Talk About Kevin, Sleeping Beauty, The Artist and of course Tree of Life, amongst others.  Just from the causal chat on the street it seems clear that Tree of Life is emerging as a favourite.

It already feels like we have been in Cannes two weeks at this point and that night a number of us from the Irish contingent meet up for a more casual dinner on the beach.  It is very nice to escape the madness for a few hours and just enjoy the surroundings.  A lovely evening with perhaps just one to many glasses of rosé.

Monday the 16th
Another early start and a morning full of meetings, followed by a big networking lunch for PoM. It is down on the beach and consists of about 150 people made up of previous participants, sponsors and supporters. 
The days are rolling into each other now and becoming slightly more chaotic.  The day becomes a juggling act of trying to fit in meetings with people we have met along the way into an already busy schedule.  A lot of people are leaving in the morning but we have one more day.  
After a couple of receptions, we again escape the melee and head up to St Paul de Vence for dinner – beautiful, delicious and great craic.

POM
Rebecca (top row, third from left) with the other Producers on the Move in Cannes

Tuesday the 17th
Energy is beginning to flag at this point but the end is in sight.  A not too early start this morning allows for a last burst of energy for today’s round of meetings.  We can see the effect in those that we are meeting with as well.  Bags under eyes are a bit deeper, voices a bit croakier but all in all, things are still going well and things are looking good for the our upcoming projects.  Looks like the rest of the year will be busy – fingers crossed.

By the time the afternoon’s meetings are done, I have energy left for very little and am looking forward to the flight home in the morning.  There is a PoM reception on a yacht on the harbour and that is my last engagement.  Manage to drag myself out to dinner on the beach, where a pretty spectacular fireworks display reminds me that actually we are pretty lucky to get to call this work and that even amidst the grind of hard work, Cannes will always throw up a few moments of glamour and wonder.  As long as you don’t forget your runners…

  • IFTN would like to thank Rebecca O'Flanagan for sharing her industry diary with us on the site.
  • For further information about Rebecca's latest production 'Wayfaring Strangers' read the news piece - click here.
  • For further information about Treasure Entertainment visit www.treasure.ie




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