June 5, 2015

Filmmaking 101: Rebels With Cause

In order to navigate through this dysfunctional illusion called the the film industry, you need a few things: life experience, boundaries and a strong sense of True North. After encountering the dark underbelly of the French Rivera, my palate was cleansed with amazing experiences and incredibly inspiring people who reminded me why I've chosen this path. 

After quickly adjusting to living in the future, we had our group orientation. Over one hundred of us networkers, filmmakers and interns packed into the ballroom of the Radisson Blu to hear more about the Creative Mind Group (CMG), which was established by Rob Ford, a filmmaker living in Los Angeles. After hearing his story, I knew I had found my tribe! Rob created CMG after being dissatisfied with a similar program, hoping to further extend access and opportunity to aspiring filmmakers. I'm a big fan of being the change you want to see. I'm about that. What this man had to do to achieve this - particularly in Cannes - is the premise of a summer blockbuster. For that reason, I won't give you the details, but it's an amazing story of perseverance and cheeky sleuth tactics. Totally inspiring!

Rob Ford, CMG Guru. Photo Credit: Creative Mind Group
I was then thrown head first into the life of a budding producer. Slamming back the free espresso shots, picking up the trades (daily publications from companies like Hollywood Reporter and Variety) and attending professional development sessions from 9-5. Being part of the Networking program with Creative Minds, I was able to attend the festival's Producer Workshop where nearly 300 producers from around the world get intensive training from industry professionals. We broke the ice the first day by having a solid eight seconds to introduce ourselves to the entire group. A little intimidating, but what an amazing way to discover the talent in the room and to identify you who want to follow up with. Anytime someone said "horror" my ears perked and I had them in my sights!

Some of the Networking crew on a roof. Stolen from Sofia's mad insta-game.

I was able to attend the Next Pavillion's discussion with Netflix Content Officer Ted Sarandos and be present for some heated discussion on the future of film and television. It was so exciting to be in that room and part of the discussion, particularly because there are major tectonic-type shifts happening in distribution which is creating a lot of fear and anger. Personally, I love Netflix and not just because it gave me the opportunity to binge on seven seasons of Buffy in 4 weeks. It's a revolutionary model for both the consumer and the producer and lives outside of the typical ratings system, which Sarandos stated "has been very bad for the quality of television." No shit. Watch the video below. It's a crucially important discussion and you'll see a Harvey Weinstein cameo and see me ask a question (56:16). FYI, Jane Fonda was in the front row. She looks amazing. It made my life to be in the same room.

This moment really started to open my eyes to another reality. Things are really shifting. New ideas are shaking up the old system and not everyone is playing the game. There are rebels amongst us infiltrating this world and refusing to play by the rules. For instance, we had a chance to speak with Aaron Hillis, a filmmaker and journalist famous for his article Diary of a Party Crasher, an expose on scheming his way into the exclusive parties at Cannes. Love love love. At our Breakfast Talks on the roof of the Radisson Blu in Cannes, he referred to the festival as "the most prestigious cluster fuck in the world" - absolutely agree - and immediately identified me as Canadian when I used the word "about."  He owns one of the last remaining video stores in Brooklyn and was just a super down to earth guy. You HAVE to read his article. The brass on this man is incredible.
READ: http://filmmakermagazine.com/86152-cannes-2014-diary-of-a-party-crasher/#.VW9ritJViko

Aaron Hillis, special guest for the Creative Mind Group's Networkers.
And then HEEL GATE fiasco. News travelled fast about the women who were refused access to the Grand Lumière for not wearing heels on the red carpet. Honestly, I wasn't surprised by this. I already had a taste of the exclusionary practices and as a big nobody, I wasn't about to take any chances. I rocked those Michael Kors. But just imagine if you will, you're on the feet all day and they're swollen from impact, your hips are all crooked from walking on uneven cobblestones and then you gotta elevate from 2.5 inch to 4.5 inch heels for the evening. When I finally made my trek on the red carpet - which was a hilarious Benny Hill kind of mad dash, more on that later - it felt as though a hammer was crashing down on my tender tootsies with each step and I seriously wanted to put a gun in my mouth to make the pain stop. And you just have to turn around and do it all again the next day, learn how to walk with less purpose (because that's how you successfully walk in heels) and take your time while you piss, because it's the only break you'll manage.

So yes, I would have welcomed the opportunity to wear some goddamn flats. I even started to pack my Sanuk's in my purse, my flip flops made from yoga mats that felt like sweet sweet marshmallows, but were now nicknamed my "shame shoes" because I'd hit that point where I didn't give a fuck what the French thought of me anymore. Well... after the sun went down, that is.

Which brings me to another inspiring rebel, producer Christine Vachon, our guest speaker arranged by program head Anna Feder. Not only has Vachon been rocking the industry with over 70 films produced with Killer Films (Carol, Boys Don't Cry) but she marched that red carpet in her signature combat boots. Sometimes, you just have to resist participation in the ridiculousness, though I'm sure it doesn't hurt to have your film in competition and be kinda a big deal (a serious big deal).

With Christine Vachon at the CMG Breakfast Talks. Photo Credit: Creative Mind Group.
The larger lesson for me here is an affirmation to defy all restrictive systems and be relentless in your pursuit to achieve your goals. Know what is important and don't ask for permission, ever. It felt a little bumpy at times, because the networking on this level is intense. It's a two-week long job interview where you are being judged by every moment, every word, every crinkle in your fabric. You want to be conscious of how you are perceived, but also be yourself. Isn't that a head fuck? That's why it's so important to have a strong sense of yourself before you enter the tide. 

There are elements of this world that are designed for people of privilege, people who divide everyone they encounter into three categories: a servant, a God or a threat. I avoid these people at all costs and instead look to those who are focused on what's important, what's real and what has some substance. At the end of the day, nothing else matters.

Yeah... that 3D Porn, Red Carpet Moments and more good shit.


  1. I feel like I'm in Hogwart Castle using my convenient "invisibility cloak", following you & your posse into places that are "forbidden" to mere mortals. At one moment I'm smiling demurely at the events... then I'm scared shitless for you and "the gang". Great posts! Thinking of you.

  2. Hahah! Best description ever. Thanks Dave! Glad to bring you along for the ride.


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