Archive for May 2008

Germany: Day 3 Yes, Germans are tall people   2 comments

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I can check a goal off my life list.

 

Last night I partied in a few German clubs, and danced to house music. I must have be sixteen when I first thought of doing this, so i’m happy to say that i’ve been able to achieve this goal… a measley ten years later.

I participated in something called a “Pub Crawl”, which essentially gives you access to a lot of clubs, and bars for the price tag of 12 euros. A person who lives in the city (with nothing to do on a Friday night apparently) takes dozens of tourists looking to “see Berlin” on a hit-parade of popular bars and clubs. I took this experience with a grain of salt. The crawl gives you access to people to talk to and places to go, but I was a little annoyed with the usual antics of the Americans and Canadians I was hanging with.

No offense to Americans, but there have been two nights that I raised my eyebrow since i’ve been in Europe. The first was in France, when I went to an Irish bar for about an hour and felt like I was in Washington D.C again, and promptly left. The second was last night (or this morning if you are being technical). The nature of “American culture” is fascinating. Any large group of Americans has a lot of hooting and hollering and people trying to get VERY VERY drunk. Also 99% of the crowd was wearing plain t-shirts and shorts. I was the most dressed up person in a crowd of at least 60.

That aside, it wasn’t that bad. After all, I don’t hate Americans, and I live in the country! haha.

Some cool moments were dancing to minimalist music in a place called “Rudubar” this is near some street called “Brugerstalle” (Burgerstra-see). Our guides walked with back packs full of alcohol and gave it to us after every bar stop. So I bought drinks at pretty much every bar, then had shots after each bar… needless to say, I got a little drunk. 

I’m staying by this hostel near a train station called Johannowitzburke, and I brought my bike I rented the whole way. IT was another character in the night, me and my bike. Lots of fun.I met a lot of girls but most of them were traveling in pairs, large groups, or leaving the next day. 

Boo!

All in all it was a good experience. I had trouble talking to German girls in the club. I actually got “the hand” from a girl who was dancing directly in front of me! I’ve never gotten “the hand” from a girl EVER. But this is Germany… I guess a little bit of coldness is expected. All I said was “halo.” 

The night ended at this place called “The Matrix” which is the first place i’ve seen with large, white bouncers. Forgive me, but every bar i’ve been to in the states has  massive black bouncers. This place had true German stock. When I was walking into the club, I started entering the wrong way. The bouncer barked at me in German and lightly (trust me, lightly) shoved me in the right direction. I floated to the side like a sheet of paper. I didn’t want to know what happened to people who pissed those bouncers off.

Inside was like any other club, except a lot of the people were tall and blonde. This I found strange, because walking around Germany I haven’t seen many “very” blonde people, but people are definitely taller here. Standing at 6’1 I’m not really at much of an advantage here. 

So… I think I had one more drink that place, danced on some pole with a few girls and then headed home. I was TIRED… I wasn’t sure if it was riding around all day on the bike, or some post-France lag that’s affecting me. In the club I didn’t even make an attempt to chat to any of the german girls. I couldnt’ bother. I had a nice shirt on, that said “I’D FCUK ME”, but for the entire night, the shirt seemed to amuse (and attract) more men than women. I didn’t care. I was in Germany baby!

 

At some point I grabbed my bike and took the train back to Johannowitzburke. I turned on the light and whizzed home. The dude staying in the bed beside me is from Japan, and i swear, I was speaking to him in perfect Japanese for a few minutes before I crashed and fell into dreamland. I don’t know why I speak better Japanese when i’m drunk, but it doesn’t matter. I drunk Skype dialed the girl of my dreams and left her a voice message. 

One day I will laugh and say, ” I drunk Skyped this chick once!” to which another drunk person will say, “Dude, you drunk Skyped someone? Awesome!” 

Here’s to Saturday night in Germany.

Cheers mate!

 

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Germany day two: it ist Ferboten!   Leave a comment

Germany day two: It ist furboten!  + Yes, I’m Jamaican dammit!

 

I’m a little unhappy that I wasn’t’ able to talk about the small things I noticed in France. I did mention the toilet thing, where you pull a knob upwards to flush, but I didn’t mention that the bottled water I had in Cannes tasted horrible, and it was hard to find anything with rice in in… anywhere. It was all cheese and bread, and Englishman would probably say it was “god awful”.

The first thing I have to chalk up to the Germans is efficiency. When I was in France, I used a power converter to power my laptop. The first time I plugged my laptop in,  noticed a strange sensation when I ran my fingertips over the surface of my Macbook. It was a buzzing feelings, like rubbing a vibrating surface. I researched this phenomenon on the internet and voila! It was a power conversion issue. Essentially what I was feeling was a mild shock. There was too much power coming into the macbook book and the metal surface was conducting it.

In different buildings throughout france I had the same problem. This even occurred when I hooked up a printer (macbook as not plugged in) to my laptop! On day one when I came to Germany and plugged my notebook in, I noticed there was no shock. What I received was proper, and highly accurate power conversion. There’s one for the Germans. In fact, this whole “efficiency” thing isn’t a joke. I’ve never received change so quickly in my life. In numerous stores, wherever I buy something, the price is calculated and my change is delivered within seconds.

Other than that, my day has been pretty uneventful. I went to a place to get a Bike today (Berlin is too f-ing huge to walk around). For the healthy sum of 38 Euros, I ge a bike of my own (including lights and a cool locking system) for five days. I was riding around a little today, marveling at how large and alien Berlin seems. Berlin reminds me of DC, if DC was three times as big. There is so much SPACE wherever I go. Space for joggers, cyclists and cars… everywhere. I ask a girl who looks like a tourist to take a picture of me. She’s a cool English chick who’s in town for a few days from Krakow, Poland. We snap pictures for a while and visit a few museums. We don’t actually see anything because every museum requires 8-20 euros to see their priceless artwork. I guess DC spoiled me.

At some point, she links up with her fried, aptly named “Massive”, who is an Italian fellow with an Aussie accent. I find the term “massive” funny because I’m taller than massive, but I guess I don’t want to dig too deep into that story.I’m starting to get tired of explaining why I speak “proper English”.

I really don’t know who spread the word to every person on the planet that ALL Jamaicans speak like the guys from Cool Runnings, Bob Marley, or any number of Rastamen on the North Coast, but they did a damn good job. Every person, even people who barely speak English, keep saying I sound American, or ask what the native language in Jamaica is.

The first few times I happily explained that there are different regions in Jamaica and people speak differently. But now, people are starting to say I sound American, which bothers me. Its almost like saying, “If you seak proper English without having an English, French, Aussie, or otherwise popular country’s accent, then you must be American.” As a Jamaican this makes no sense of course, but this seems to be what everyone believes. It seems people would rather run into Jamaicans they can barely understand than one who speaks clearly. Every American I’ve met knows immediately that I’m not America. Alas:

Stereotypes rule.

I went to this place called “Yaam” today which is like something out of a werid movie. I’m in the middle of Berlin and I’m standing in a place filled with sand, and walls covered in Graffiti that has the classic Ethiopian colours. There are African beers on the menu, people playing volleyball on the “beach” and Jah Cure was playing over the radio. It was weird. Jamaica really is the center of the universe!

Tonight the plan is to head to some pubs and do a “pub crawl”. I’ve heard for an interesting area to check out: Kreuzberg. Apparently there’s enough going on there to create significant mischief tonight. The plan —

 

 

Whooops my roommate just walked in. They are going on  a pub crawl. I’m out!

 

 

 

Posted May 30, 2008 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

Germany – Day One   1 comment

I’m in Germany.

 

This is weird, because its been one of my life goals to reach this place and just take it in. The first thing I noticed about Berlin when I stepped out of the train station to find my hostel was Graffiti. It was everywhere. Not just that, the place was deathly quiet.

This was intimidating for a few seconds. After all, this is Berlin, a place pretty much destroyed by the ravages of war a few decades ago. The place has that stamp. Many buildings are covered with overgrown weeds, huge bushes dot the landscape and the area has a sense of being lived in through the good and the bad. I can’t properly describe it yet, but I feel like I’m walking through a real live version of a first-person shooter. In the distance, is a HUGE spire of some sort with blinking lights. Everywhere I walk to, I see it, almost as if its watching me. If fact,  I feel watched. This area I am in is so quiet.

 

There is no music playing in any apartments. I hear no music in any cars. There is nothing to indicate that people are living around here, save the few people I see sitting in a park, or walking quietly on the road. The people seem to be very quiet as well, very reserved. I’ve seen a few teenagers traipsing about, talking in rapid German in playgrounds and sitting by the remnants of an old swimming pool. It’s a weird transition from the beach laden confines of Cannes France.

 

Here, I’ve stepped into a world that truly isn’t my own. I feel like a “citizen”, a member of a massive state governed by a quiet, firmly ruling hand. I think I’ve seen too many war movies, and heard too many things about Germany through the lens of modern media to have a proper grasp of all things Berlin, but that’s what I feel right now. I’m sitting by a window in my hostel, and there is nothing that greets me, save an eerie silence that covers everything like a heavy blanket.

Maybe this is how people live in this part of town. Maybe I’m just in the quiet section. In a bit, I’m going to try and head to Waurscherstralle, a district that has a few bars and clubs. A place I can probably listen to some music, or grab a drink. It’s a bit scary to do this. After all, I am on my own and I don’t want to get lost in one of the biggest cities on Earth.

 

This place is flat…flat …FLAT.

 

We’ll see how it goes. The hostel is really nice on the inside. It feels like a first rate dorm, and has a gorgeous lobby with brand new tiles and a recreation area. But on the left side of the building, a huge outcropping of weeds dominates most of the building. School buildings, tables, and almost every apartment building in the area has graffiti on it. Yet, residents walk around nicely dressed, oblivious to the artistic mayhem. I know its because I’m a foreigner that I’m even noticing these things. Pretty soon, I’ll forget the smeared walls.

 

But the images are powerful; a open air table tennis table scorched with graffiti. An old couple walking through a small street with images twenty feet high on either side of the buildings beside them. A woman in bright pink leggings walking quickly through the underpass of a bridge. Powerful images. I’m a little upset because my connector for my d40 dissappeared. This is a place that warrants thousands of pictures. But alas, I have to measure my photographer’s instinct.

Here’s to Berlin. Day one.

Posted May 29, 2008 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

Cannes day 9   Leave a comment

Yes, I skipped day, six, seven and eight because I didn’t have any internet a the hotel and too much was happening to really document. This blog will summarize the most recent events. 

Day 9

 

I’m in my first party and I’m getting a taste of the life. I’m in a villa owned by a few Lebanese billionaires, staring at one of those hundred inch plasma screens that cost the price of three or four kidneys. (Maybe five kidneys).

I tagged along with a friend for a party celebrating the 24 Hour Cannes Film Festival competition. On the way to the party we tried to walk through the  Grande Hotel to get a shuttle heading up to the villa (aptly dubbed, “The Mint”) and we were stopped. My friend is a Cannephile, this being her third or fourth trip to the festival. As we walked through the hotel, a tall doorman said to me in a thick accent, “I’m sorry sir, I’m sorry, you can’t go through.”

These statements are now meaningless.

 

Since I’ve been in Cannes, I’ve become pretty ballsy. You have to be—getting in anywhere you have to walk like you own the place, know the bouncers and have all the women, even if you are sharing a hotel room with a couple of other people, and you live nowhere near the Croisette (the uber exclusive strip of shopping malls where the access to all the beach parties are).

I traipsed through the hotel like it was my own. I didn’t hear the doorman calling to me, and when he eventually did a light jog to the back door to stop us, I looked through him. It was weird, but it felt pretty cool in a strange way. It wasn’t a big deal, because we only walked a short way around the hotel to access the cars to the event. I am Cannes! haha.

The last few days have been literally a whirlwind. I didn’t really think I could do so many things in a day, but I really have.

I’ve directed a short film, which I’m pretty proud of. I’ve done a few shorts, but directing a short Film in France just felt different. Then I entered this film competition the Short Film Corner was hosting in association with a company called “Theauters.com”. I interfaced with this crazy artistic guy named Jesse who is a member of my program.

“I want to win this ten thousand dollars,” he said to me. I nodded. There’s nothing wrong with ten thousand dollars.  “But,” he says to me afterward. “You’ll have to be in a scene where you run through the street… in your underwear.”

I did a huge Scooby Doo.

Aruu?

I thought about it for a second. Either this guy was really crazy, or really inspired. The competition was shooting a three minute film with a tiny and very cheap “Flip Cam”. Each entrant gets a camera (which they can keep for themselves afterwards) and you just run with a story.

Our story is badass.

It is essentially a roundabout story of cheating. A guy (me), meets a French girl somewhere, I hookup with her and her boyfriend finds out. There are chase scenes, fights, some serious Cinema Verite’, a dream sequence and the money shot—me chasing after the French girl in my underwear. It was amazing doing the film, even though some aspects of it were a bit weird. More than once a bus filled with French passengers drove past, wondering who this tall black guy in his underwear was doing in the street at 1 a.m, standing next to a young woman at a bus stop while a guy points at us with a teeny tiny camera.

 

At some point during the night, I said to Jessy. “I’m not shy about standing in the street in my underwear. Its standing in the street in my underwear in a foreign country that make me a little nervous!”

 

All in all, it was fun. Not only did I end up in bed with a French girl (who we recruited mere hours before the shooting started), run through French streets in my underwear, scare a crowd half to death by being chased in realtime, but I did some real acting for the first time I can remember. There was a sequence where I screamed, I did creepy laughs, and we were doing so well we even drew a tiny crowd.

 

At some point a tiny Japanese man tagged along with us to help out with the shoot. At this point I headed to aforementioned party.

 

If my blog isn’t making perfect sense, its because I’m all over the place. I’ve been waking up at 9 and going to be at 3 or 4.am each day for the last week and a half, and I have no signs of slowing down. I’ve been networking like crazy, and I’ve gotten on my first “list” in Cannes! A cute English actress I met sent me a text saying she has me on a list somewhere. What it is and where, I have ZERO idea. But its cool to get some sort of hookup.

Before I end the blog, I jus thave to say that networking feels very natural for me. These parties are just people saying hello, people pitching themselves, and people having drinks. The party at the Mint was sponsored by Perfect Vodka. The two drinks of the night, were the Red Carpet, and the Perfect Pussy. “I’m not making this up.” At some point during the evening Alfonso Ribiero (a.ka. ‘Carlton’ from the French Prince of Belair) shows up. He orders two Pussies and two Vaginas.

Exact words.

After the party I finished the film and fell asleep in a friend’s room. The next day I would see footage on his FlipCam of me asleep on the bed. What will tonight bring? Who knows. There has been so much happening that I haven’t the time to document it all. I’ve been so busy trying to meet people I haven’t really been watching any movies, but today I snuck in a viewing of Everyone dies but me a Russian film about teenagers that makes you want to cry, or put your little sister in a safe FOREVER.

Cheers to a good night. More details tomorrow.

Bonne Nuit.

 

 

 

 

Cannes Day 5: Dammit!   Leave a comment

Cannes Day Six

 

 

I’m shirtless in a dark room with two young French women. One is dressed like a hip-hop dancer, with baggy pants and a hat turned to the side. They stand behind me, giggling in rapid French while I stand there awkwardly. One comes forward and I setup to the side. She looks on my shirt, which is resting on a massive ironing board and looks on the tag.

“Ah, ze polyester.” She says.

She adjusts a knob and smiles. They leave the room and I start ironing my shirt.

 

As it relates to Cannes, after only four days I’m starting to feel extremely winded. At first I was thinking this experience wouldn’t be that draining, or that intense. But there is so much walking, talking and interacting, it takes the life out of you. I learned this in a very funny way early this morning. Let’s just say eating lots of bread and drinking no water makes for some interesting bathroom antics.

 

Today (or yesterday) was pretty disappointing. I finally networked well enough to get an invite to a party on the beach. It was in front of the Martinez, pretty much the second most exclusive spot on the strip called the Croisette. My energy was almost gone at this point: I had been to three happy hours and had  a little too much wine. Not the amount that gets you drunk, but the amount that gets you a little sleepy. Add to that the fact that I’d been walking around all day talking to numerous people and my energy was low.

 

I also learned that eating crepes all day are bad, bad business. Since I’ve arrived in France, I don’t believe I’ve had any meat. I’ve only been eating bread, cheese, and crepes, with a touch of the occasional glass of water. So I’m guessing my insides are yearning for some real nutrition. “Give us meat!” my stomach is probably screening.

 

Who knows. I’m beginning to get used to the area now. I’m very familiar with the Rue d’ Antibes, the Croisette as well. I’ve started memorizing routes, stopping at familiar food stands. The familiarity with the area that I have has bred a certain desire within me over the last few days. Missing that party burned my stomach. The opportunities for networking in a large party are almost endless. In fact, the main virtue of going to parties like those are to meet people who will get you into other parties to meet other people. I’m not mad that I didn’t get to dance near the beach in France, I’m mad that I didn’t get to meet the person I was probably supposed to meet. The nature of this industry is so fleeting it keeps you tense. Sure Cannes is a two week madhouse of pitching and partying, but each day adds up to the next. In only 8 days I’ve met at least two hundred persons, and I have a stack of business cards in my bag. I have to use tricks to remember everyone’s names, and make sure to follow up.

But I can’t be mad for long.

 

The internet at my hotel has been dead for two days, which is making my situation eve more tricky. I have no more time for regrets, no more time to pause and think about missing a party. I just have to figure out a way to keep in touch. The reason I missed my party was the onset of serious fatigue from the hustle and bustle. I fell asleep wth my phone on my lap, and when I woke up, it fell and smashed dramatically into a thousand pieces.

Well its in two pieces, but I have no phone! This wasn’t bad (this happened a day ago) because each day I meet at least twenty people who say “Give me a call later, let’s hang out.” I’m on a quest now to find stable internet, to keep blogging and still network and maybe catch a movie.

 

Anon.

 

 

Cannes day 4: Iron Mike and Networking bliss   Leave a comment

(Note to my faithful readers.. I actually have an extra blog I wrote, but I messed up the order.. so I’m actually on day 5 of my Cannes blogging …but I can’t really go back and add the day before.. I apologize… but trust me, the information wasn’t juicy – Marcus )

 

Cannes day Four

 

I’m watching a series of red steps float on a massive screen in full 3d. To the backdrop of carefully crafted (and quite cinematic music) the steps eventually disappear, and a logo appears, the very distinctive logo of a Golden Palm, the symbol of the Cannes film festival.

I’m sitting in some pretty good seats, waiting for the premiere of a documentary that I accidentally went to see; Tyson. It is a new documentary on Mike Tyson’s life, narrated by the legend himself. I sit comfortably in my seat, wating for the movie to start, when a lithe Frenchman in a tuxedo comes on stage. He speaks rapidly, (I’m assuming he is talking about the director and the people who produced the film), then there is a lull in the crowd. Somewhere near the back, cameras flash rapidly and people stand up and gravitate to a shadowy section of the theatre. Standing there, barely visible and surrounded by bodyguards, is Mike Tyson himself. The years have been kind to the former heavy weight. His face looks the same but he looks at least fifty pounds heavier, a change artfully disguised by a large suit.

 

This is what you get at Cannes, a touch of the unexpected. An extra dose of things you didn’t think of even seeing. When I was sitting on the plane grumbling because my “breakfast” was a small collection of food that wouldn’t fill a shrew’s stomach, I had no idea I would be seeing Mike Tyson just a few days later. After the movie, I ran up to the stage to take some pictures of the man himself, as he humbly thanked everyone for coming out to see the film. As he exited the theatre, I stood nearby, directing two of my colleagues to snap him (with me in the frame) as he walked past. Both pictures were a bust. On my camera, I am a dark blur and Mike Tyson is nowhere to be seen. On my friends camera, Iron Mike is perfectly visible, but only my chin is in the frame.

 

Amazing.

 

Luckily, I took a picture of myself with Mike Tyson in the background when he was on stage, and we are both in the frame. Boo yah! The film was shown in one of the main theatres, The Debussy, which is good for laughs when you keep asking people:

“What’s the name of the theatre?”

 

Today the real action began. I’m in a position where I am forced to completely step out of my comfort zone. I’ve done this before—in social settings like bars, and sometimes the occasional school function. But this is something else. Each day there is a happy hour in the short film section of the Palais, and it’s a great place to network. As I walked in, with my plan of action fresh in my mind. I was surrounded by groups of people talking excitedly with one another. It was a buzz of French, German English, and several other languages. Everyone was pitching a film, talking about their short film in the festival, or trying to meet people for promotional purposes. It wasn’t chaos, but It wasn’t a walk in the park, even for a semi-socialite like myself. I see a blonde woman of medium height walking towards me, and I start some polite conversation. She’s a director from Australia, and this is her third time at Cannes.

“Are you going to any parties later tonight?” I ask.

“No, I’m tired of the party scene. “She says.

At this, I smirk. I haven’t been to one yet, but before the weekend is out, I’m sure I’ll have found my first Cannes party. We talk about her film for a little while, and we do small talk. She tells me about an Australian director who is coming to France the next day and doing a private screening of a film he directed. I’ll e-mail her and see if I can get an invite. My badge officially has me as a buyer of films, so I get more access than some of the regular patrons. I heard about this new Jean Claud Van Damme movie, but I have no idea how I’ll fandagle my way into that one.

 

After talking to Miss Australia, I mosy around, chit-chatting with a few people, but I’m really nervous. There are people from all over the globe here. People I’ve never interacted with. Everyone is pitching, everyone is busy. Everyone is  type-A. Me, I’m from an island that can fit into new York seven or eight times with dreams of being a screenwriter. I know I have the personality to mingle and schmooze, but sometimes breaking that first piece of ice can be really hard. I sit at a table for a moment and listen to a conversation between (who I think) are two more Aussies standing near the bar. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, because it helps you figure out who you can approach. If I hear people speaking French, I raise the red flag because I don’t speak French. If I hear English, at the very least I can walk up to them and say “Finally, a little of my own language in my day!”

I haven’t done that yet, because it really isnt’ that bad. I ran into some people after leaving the Short Film Corner waiting to watch Third Wave a cool Stephen Soderberg movie that is entered into the competition for Cannes. In the line, I talk my best Japanese with two Japanese nationals who are buyers for a small company called Shin Nippon films. They are looking for small art house films. I get a few cards, exchange some small talk and as we near the front of the line, find out that they won’t let people in who aren’t properly dressed. To show you how serious they were, a man with two women (who literally looked like Supermodels) were standing at the side of the line for a few minutes, but they weren’t let in either.

Welcome to Cannes baby.

Its at this point in time that we (myself and the people that were waiting in line for the movie) decide to get something to eat. We head into a little restaurant off the Rue de Antigues and I balk at the prices. Fourteen euros for a three course meal with names I can’t pronounce or translate. I pick out the word “vegetable” “cheese” and “fish”. But everything else is jibberish to me. I tell my friends to contact me on my phone if they can. I buy a disgustingly sweet Nutella crepes in a stand near the restaurant and make a sad attempt to run game on one of the attendants. It is impossible not to try after a while. Every ten feet are extremely attractive women. It is a phenomenon that I haven’t yet wrapped my head around. Today I saw about three packs of women who closely resembled Selma Hayek walking around. I’ve never seen this kind of thing, and I’m seriously not the kind of fellow who ogles women. But twice today, I’ve turned my head. (yes, yes, I know. )

I run into one of my restaurant mates (he left the restaurant as well after balking at the prices) and we do a little traipse. He laughs at a large cylindrical structure on the sidewalk. It is a bathroom that you pay a Euro to use.

I’ve observed a few interesting things thus far. Toilets don’t have flushing handles, they have little knobs on the top of the toilet you pull up vertically to flush. In our room the bathroom is separate from the toilet room (which makes hand washing interesting). There is the kissing thing, where men and women kiss each other when they greet. Thankfully I haven’t kissed anyone yet. All that cheek action creeps me out.

Back to reality.

My networking game has barely begun, but I’m already starting to feel the “Vibe” of the nightlife. You watch a cool movie, then you head out to some hotel lobbies or go with people to parties. Its talk, talk, talk. While I’m traipsing with my friend, I hear someone call to me. It’s a girl I haven’t seen in a few years I went to school with. (the world is really, REALLY small!). She seems to really know her way around Cannes, and that gives me hope. I haven’t really had any drinks yet, but here’s a cheers to the weekend and to going to my first party.

 

Salut!

Cannes day 3: Welcome to the real world   Leave a comment

Cannes day three.

 

 

I’m sitting somewhere in between the first floor of the main Palais, and the Riviera. These are sections of the massive Palais des Festival, which is where all the magic happens. To say Cannes is chaotic would be a lie, its more like a storm of chimps on red bull in suits trying to buy and sell films. Not that any of these people look like chimps, but the place is pretty wild.

I just left the Debussy theatre, one of many areas to screen films at Cannes. I watched Hunger, a tale of the hunger strike enacted by prison-bound activist Bobby Sands, in 1981. It took me a few minutes to realize I was actually watching a film at the Cannes Film Festival. There I was, sitting amidst the peers of the industry, taking in a film.

The way industry people take these films seriously, there was a cacophony of coughing as the film started, as people with small colds coughed out the last of their irritable viruses. When the movie started, there was pin-drop silence. For the entire movie. At the end the coughing started at again.

Personally, I was very tired. In my last blog I mentioned going out the night before and celebrity watching. Then I came home, fiddled with the internet a bit and then got some sleep to wake up at 8 a.m so I could sort out some issues I was having. So in the movie at some point, I dozed off. But I saw 95% of the film. I can scratch off a life goal of mine today:

“Applauded at the end of a Cannes film screening with rest of audience.”

That sounds pretty simple, but the logistics of getting into this place were maddening. I might go into the details of the accreditation process in another blog, but trust me. I had to jump through hoops and drop some serious euros to get where I am right now, and I don’t even feel ready.

Early this morning, when I walked into the Palais for the first time, I grabbed a few copies of magazines that are available to everyone in the area. There are thousands of copies of the Hollywood Reporter, Moving pictures and various other magazines. When I slipped a few of them into my bag, I said, “Dammit. I’m really in it.”

Days ago I was a student on the verge of graduating. My worries involved ironing my graduation gown, packing for this trip to France and worrying about how much my feet hurt when I shop for new shoes. Here, I am officially a professional. I don’t have time to worry that much. All the people here are trying to do the exact same thing. Get ahead. I’m surrounded by thousands of talented, super driven people from dozens of countries with literally thousands of different agendas.

 

Cannes is a Market based festival. Essentially people come here to promote, buy or sell films. Or they come here to promote, buy or sell themselves (not necessarily in that order :p) . So it is a rat race of the most powerful kind. Workshops run abound in Cannes, companies are EVERYWHERE and its non-stop. So a person can juggle visiting companies, catching a screening here and there and maybe catching a party at night. I’ve been told a good strategy is to head to some of the more exclusive hotels and hang out in the lobby and chat to people. This is a business. A relentless one.

 

So therein lies the question? How do I market myself as a writer? Are writers truly in demand, or are hot scripts in demand? When I received my badge, I got a cool little gray bag with ‘Cannes 2008’ all over it. Inside was information on the festival and market participants. The market participant book is twice the size of the Bible. This book had the information of participants in the festival. (and I thought looking into the face of eternal hellfire was daunting). So, I have to organize. I have to go through the periodicals(magazines, etc) and figure out which companies would like my product. I have a comedic script that I want to pitch, but get this. In my Graduation week (as madness ensued and I had no time to sleep) I didn’t adequately prepare some things for my trip. As it stands, when you don’t carry certain things with you to a foreign country, you have to buy them in that country, and man are the prices different. I’m leaking Euros.

 

The plan has to get juggled. Not only do I feel like I have to dress sharp (in Jamaica we say “Bush”) to seem like a true professional, but I have to do it every day. I’m not sure I have that many dress shirts :p. Either way, the battle begins. Tiny Jamaican writer, versus huge, well established international festival. I may not have a movie, or be able to get into the exclusive parties, but I have my little script. May I pitch it well!

On a side note, I bought a SIM card today from a phone store. The guys were not helpful at all. They spoke no English, the phone card’s instructions were in English, and I’m sure I don’t even know how to recharge the bloody card… but I had to get it. Its already getting impossible to link up with members from my program, much less contact people I will be meeting throughout the festival. Investment is key in these things. Don’t scrimp on those comfy black shoes you wanted to wear because they were slightly out of your budget, and get more dress shirts! Self-promotion baby!

Plus tard, ladies and gentlemen, Bush every day!

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