“My Dear Arthur” Actress, Heather, at Cannes
I: Heather, glad you were able to attend the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France! We know it was amazing. Eli and Lu ( of Eli Lu Productions) are extremely proud and honored to have had you represent the team. How would you describe your experience at Cannes?
H: My experience at Cannes was nothing short of incredible. I spent two weeks submerged in a wonderful world of film, amazing food, and incredible company. A typical day would look something like this: Get up early and go down to the hotel restaurant for a very French breakfast of cafe, tarts, quiche, and bread, bread, bread! We would then catch the shuttle down to the Palais de Festival. The Palais is the central hub for all of the festivities. There are three theatres in the building, including the Grand Theatre Lumiere where all of the in-competition feature length films are screened. Inside the Palais was not only the three main theatres, but also multiple small theatres and screening rooms, a free Nespresso cafe, and digital box offices where we could request tickets for screenings (there was a sort of lottery system for tickets). Downstairs was a huge convention-like area where people from all over the world had booths to sell their film, their production companies, services etc. This is also where the Short Film Corner was. The Short Film Corner was not open the first week of the festival so we decided to spend as much time as we could trying to get into screenings for the in-competition films. If we didn’t get tickets via the lottery system (and most of us were lucky to only get one because our group was the lowest on the totem poll) we would make signs out of paper and markers and stand outside the theatre and beg. Now it sounds like an odd thing to do, but it is actually a very typical and expected thing and could be a lot of fun. A group of us would spread out in an area and stand with our signs. A friend of mine who is a trained ballet dancer was put on French news for dancing in the streets with her sign. People would take pictures, news reporters would ask for interviews, and then we’d get super lucky and someone would give us a ticket! Over all I managed to snag 5 Red Carpet Tickets via begging. Once a ticket was acquired, we’d slip into line, go through security, and then walk the portion of the Red Carpet our ticket allowed. Most tickets only allowed us to walk the top half where the stairs are, but we were all lucky enough to get at least one chance to walk the entire Carpet. It was an absolutely surreal experience every time. If we didn’t manage to get a ticket for the main theatre, we would find another screening in a side theatre of a different film. A lot of times we actually found these films to be more to our liking anyway. Between films and begging, we would eat crepes from beach-side food stands and go hunting for wi-fi so we could post pictures, check Facebook, etc. Once the last film of the night was over we would go out for our one big meal of the day at some local restaurant. Then, if we weren’t already worn out from the day’s activities, we would go to a local pub for karaoke. Karaoke nights became a CMF favorite. Once the Short Film Corner opened during the second week, our daily schedules got a welcome mix-up. If we chose to, we could go to early morning screenings of the feature length films, but once the afternoon rolled around, we had lots to do with our own films. Each day at 5 PM there was a mixer for those involved in the Short Film Corner. This was a good opportunity to network and promote our films. Our films were split in half and screened two different days. We were encouraged not to attend our screenings because the theatre was small and we wanted to make sure plenty of new people had the chance to see the films. On the day My Dear Arthur screened, a few of us waited outside the theatre to see if we would need to fill some seats. Fortunately, (unfortunately?) there was no room for us and a few other people not with us were even turned away. However, if anyone didn’t get the chance to see the films on the big screen, the Short Film Corner had a huge set-up of computers in personal cubicles where we could sign in for an hour at a time and watch as many of the short films as we could squeeze in. Along with the daily mixers, we had workshops given by industry professionals. We also had a couple of exclusive mixers and a closing party by the beach which were a ton of fun.
I: What did you enjoy most about the Cannes Film festival?
H: There’s honestly so many things to choose from. Walking the Red Carpet is definitely high on the list. One favorite moment was while I was begging for tickets. I was interviewed by BBC about women in film. Only a couple of the main in-competition films were directed by women and so they were asking my opinion on whether or not this was a problem, were there other issues with the film industry in regards to women, and so on. I am extremely passionate about this topic and felt very lucky to be randomly chosen out of a crowd to talk about something so important.
I: What feedback did people have on the film, “My Dear Arthur”?
H: Everyone (I spoke to) loved it and said it was very good. One person I spoke to was extremely impressed with how much story we managed to fit into 5 minutes.
I: How did you take advantage of networking opportunities while you were at Cannes?
H: There were so many opportunities for networking that I couldn’t have avoided it if I wanted to. I kept business cards on me at all times and every new person I met, I exchanged business cards with. It almost felt like a trading game we all had going on because everyone else wanted to network too. I usually hate the pretentiousness of networking, but at Cannes, everyone truly wanted to connect with as many talented people as possible and a lot of good friends and acquaintances were gained just by a card trade.
I: What did you like most about your time in France?
H: In regards to France itself, I enjoyed the incredible weather which was amazing even when it was rainy. I am a sucker for old architecture and was constantly in awe of the beautiful old beach town I was lucky enough to live in for two weeks. France is famous for its food and I now understand why. Not only is it absolutely delicious, but it is made in a much healthier, chemical free way than our food here in America. I had pasta and bread every single day and didn’t gain a single pound. Though all of the standing and walking probably helped.
I: Did you take away anything from the festival?
H: I feel like I gained so much from my experience. As I said before, I gained a lot of friends and connections in the film industry. I also gained an incredible re-boost to keep working toward my dreams. The feeling of being at the same festival as people like Woody Allen, Jodie Foster, and George Clooney was enough to motivation to make sure that one day soon, I walk that Red Carpet with a feature length in-competition film!
I: What was it like to walk on a real Red Carpet?
H: Walking the Red Carpet was very surreal. Each time was a wonderful blur. We didn’t walk the Carpet with the celebs, but we still got to experience the feeling of cameras flashing, people cheering, and this incredible high that I don’t think any drug could elicit.
I: Fun question: Did you run into any celebrities while you were out there?
H: Our very first night out, we were walking back from a bar in Old Cannes and we quite literally ran into Kirsten Dunst and Mads Mikkelsen on their way to dinner. I managed to snap a couple fuzzy photos for proof.
I: What would you like to say to the people who supported the Gofundme campaign?
H: Words cannot express my gratitude to each and every single one of you. Without you, I would have never been able to experience what really was an experience of a lifetime. I had an absolutely incredible time and each day I would wake up and think about everyone that helped me get there and then I’d go out and enjoy the day fully for every one of you. So again, THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES!
I: Thank you again Heather for sharing your wonderful experience with us! Sounds like you had a blast.