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Guest Blogger: Giancarlo Returns From France

Local Filmmaker Evaluates the Cannes Experience

Above: Saying farewell to Cannes.

I'm back in town. My jet lag has worn off and finally I’m out of the hurricane known as the Cannes Film Festival. Was it worth it?

Yes of course – I learned a lot. I learned about co-productions. I learned about the international film industry and it’s rules. I learned about acquisition and distribution. I learned about life. I learned to listen to different languages and cope with my mutilated French-Italian-English. I learned enough to take the next step in developing the three projects I have in mind. Two are fiction and one is a documentary. It’s time to get investors interested in film projects.

Local filmmaker Giancarlo Ruiz at Cannes.

Above: Local filmmaker Giancarlo Ruiz at Cannes.

Co-producing -- the idea of getting a project started to fit the needs of different countries is quite interesting. You write a screenplay that revolves around a country or an actor or a situation and it becomes a co-production. Let’s say your character (an American) goes to Paris for a business trip and there he meets a woman (a German), he falls in love and follows her to Greece where they both open up a restaurant. You have U.S.A, Germany, France, and Greece and that’s a co-production. That’s it. Just like that it is easier to finance the film because the burden of large amounts of money is spread across the board equally. That’s just an example.

I was able to walk into the offices of Canal Plus one of the largest European companies -- one that does the kind of films I’m interested in -- and pitch my ideas. Now it’s a waiting game and a follow up game where you send a ton of e-mails to all the people you met, to Canal Plus to remind them of the projects and the meeting you had with them. They are interested and so am I but how long will it take? I’m not sure because now the focus shifts into getting something produced. I acted as a producer down there and I think I did a good job although I’m always looking for a producer that cares enough about telling good stories, original without the clichés of a Hollywood movie. There are so many stories out there that don’t get made because money is king in films and small movies aren’t that sellable at least not here in the States but in Europe, that’s another story. They see cinema as art not Doritos.

Filmmaker Giancarlo Ruiz in one of the Cannes screening rooms.

Giancarlo Ruiz

Above: Filmmaker Giancarlo Ruiz in one of the Cannes screening rooms.

The idea of distribution for short films is quite of a catch-22 because short films are not really bankable. They are just a calling card and it doesn’t mean you can direct a feature length film. Or does it? It’s a matter of context I think. In a feature length film you have the option to develop the story and characters arc and in a short movie you develop one idea and that’s it. It’s almost like a small scene. As I was down there I wasn’t really looking for distribution for my short film (even though it would have been nice and I did get some distributors interested but they have to decide on my short over 1700 others). But I was there pitching my ideas for larger films, I was making the contacts, I was networking with industry people from other countries and that was enough for me. Although I was able to hand my films to people from other film festivals like Rotterdam, Sitges, Toronto, San Paolo, Expresion en Corto and many others. That was good. That saved me money in entry fees. Now it’s up to them to decide if the film is worth screening. Even though it has screened at some other venues. I learned that some festivals are very picky about what they show and if the film has been shown in some other festivals they might not want to screen it. They’ll screen it if it was a premier or if it was like at Sundance, then all the big festivals want to be part of that “club,” the cool club. It’s very exclusive stuff. I think a lot of films die in the festival circuit because of this measure and it’s a shame. I was able to see really good quality short films from different countries. All shot in 35mm, S16., Red… You name it and my little standard 24p short with a cost of $650 was in there, with them. Ironic.

The bustle of the Cannes Film Festival.

Giancarlo Ruiz

Above: The bustle of the Cannes Film Festival.

Now I will develop the projects with or without the funding. I have to keep going because if I don’t – who will? I was able to get some producers interested in the projects -- a Colombian and a Spanish producer -- but that was there and now I’m back here. I was able to understand where film tendencies are going in the future and what kind of equipment people are using. I have the upper hand in some aspects because my mind is still thinking independent. Or is it? Now I have to keep pushing and talking and networking. That was just the tip of the iceberg – good things are happening and coming my way. I feel privileged to have gone to Cannes and learn. I’m back and some people want to be part of the team, they want to help out, they want to produce and some projects might get produced. They will get produced. I’m game -- are you?

NOTE: You can check out Giancarlo Ruiz' Spanish language blog as well as some of his videos from Cannes at Generic Pictures.

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