5 (More) Short Takeaways on the Cannes Short Film Corner

| June 1, 2016

What can you expect at the “Olympics of Filmmaking,” also known as the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, where you are swimming in a sea full of distributors, filmmakers and industry professionals? For some, it’s a dream, albeit a daunting one. How does one even begin to prepare?

Continuing in our series of post-Cannes coverage, we asked Loyola Marymount University filmmaking student Varun Chopra for a few tips and key takeaways from his time at this year’s Cannes Court Métrage Short Film Corner.  He was there with his film God on a Leash and is ready to share the scoop.

Be Prepared

Cannes involves great preparation. Most of the distributors or buyers already have their meeting schedules locked a month prior to the festival. Never think it is too early to write that email . Also, always include the secured link to your film with every email. Everyone is very busy at the festival and the chances of them coming to your short film screening are slim.

Credit: Varun Chopra

Credit: Varun Chopra

Remember: You’re Worth Talking To

Cannes, as described by many individuals at the festival, is the Olympics of Filmmaking. Anyone who is anyone will be present at the occasion. It is, therefore, quite likely for a film student to get lost. In the same vein, during the initial days I found myself standing in a group full of chatting heads, thinking to myself, “What am I doing here? Where do I start? This is what I should be doing? Why would they be interested in talking to me?”
After a series of relentless self-questioning, I gathered the courage to talk to some people only to realize that it doesn’t matter if it is your first or fifteenth time coming to Cannes, [because] everyone is going through the same self assessment as I was. The common thread that binds everyone in that space is the desire to express themselves through the medium.

Cannes Short Film Corner

Cannes Short Film Corner

Get Chatty

In the span of eleven days of the festival, I learnt so much just from talking to people. Against my expectations, everyone has a little snippet of experience that leaves you better informed. I talked to everyone from feature film producers, actors, distributors, investors, and entertainment lawyers. The best conversations had nothing to do with films, but about common interests in music, culture and, sometimes, even Donald Trump. That for me is the best form of networking, something that isn’t forced and is unflinchingly natural.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

A part of Cannes was also different from my expectations. Due to the sheer scale of the festival, it so easy to succumb to the overwhelming feeling. I was at the Marche Du Film, the market for feature films where sellers and buyers meet. It is extensively business oriented and quite aggressive. There would be instances where you as a short filmmaker might not find any help. But, that is okay. I found that there are avenues for shorts. One just needs to find the right people at the right place.

God on a Leash

God on a Leash

Go with Your Gut

Going to Cannes is a great experience. For a first timer, it is thrilling to see what goes behind bringing the film to the audience. You might have the best film in the world but if you don’t open up routes of distribution, it is as good as non-existent. In the same way, you might have the best feature script but if you can’t convince the financiers, it is futile.
Apart from meeting very interesting individuals, this was the best thing about Cannes. It made me realize that a substantial part of filmmaking is networking. The best piece of advice I got was from the great William Friedkin, who said that not a single person knows what is the formula for success. Everyone is going on their instincts and looking for the people who have that certain fire in their bellies.

BONUS: Why did you choose to attend Loyola Marymount University?

The choice was ideal as it is one of the leading film schools in the nation and known for it’s small classroom environment along with unparalleled industry connections. LMU is a great community with an excellent spirit of collaboration and industry exposure. I recently finished my short documentary film God on a Leash which was made in collaboration with great instructors and a pool of exceptional filmmakers.

 


 

IMG_0391 (1)Varun Chopra is a 23-year old filmmaker from New Delhi, India, whose passion lies in telling stories about self-effacing human emotions and experiences. He was a mathematics graduate from Delhi University’s Ramjas College and was thoroughly involved in Delhi’s Theater circuit and independent filmmaking scene during his college years. Varun is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the School of Film and Television, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. Varun is the youngest Indian filmmaker to screen at the Cannes Film Festival.

 

Like his film God on a Leash on Facebook and visit his website!

Category: FSSnews