Five things I learnt in Cannes with Protagonist Pictures
By Baz Rassi, Creative Skillset International Film Sales Trainee
Sales agents have the toughest job in Cannes
Cannes, for sales agents, is purely business. It’s a long market lasting 12 days, with meetings starting at nine o’clock in the morning and finishing late in the evening. Sales agents are far removed from the glamour, sitting in an office day in day out, with meetings every half an hour for the whole duration of the festival. In each meeting, they pitch their slate of films to distributors, negotiate deals and close as many contracts as possible.
I cannot think of a better way to experience the world’s biggest film market.
The sales agent’s role is critical – and really exciting!
As frenetic as it gets, I cannot think of a better way to experience the world’s biggest film market. By joining meetings, I was able to observe how the sales team pitched to worldwide distributors and witnessed their skill in targeting the right buyer in the right territory with the right film. I saw first-hand how valuable agents are as the bridge between the producer and the international market place.
As a sales company you are exposed to some of the biggest producers and directors from all over the world. Managing the front desk of the Protagonist office, I was very excited to meet some of my favourite directors who were regularly coming in for meetings. Going to Cannes with Protagonist was a sharp learning curve for me, but confirmed this is I want to be doing in the long term.
Prep for Cannes meetings as early as possible
Sitting in on the pre-Cannes strategy meetings hammered home how the sales team specifically targets the appropriate distributors for each film. Part of my role in preparing for Cannes was to organize meetings for the sales directors with key distributors. You need to get meeting requests and slate information to as many important distributors as you can – as soon as you can – especially before their schedule is full. And even if they say they will drop by if they can, I learnt they usually don’t. So it’s really best to get in early to secure key meetings and sales opportunities.
Read the trades every morning
Daily issues of Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Screen International, Le Film Francais and other magazines (all available at the big hotels) provide invaluable information on the latest business news and reviews, what’s happening and market trends. Picking these up and skimming through them every morning helped me feel more connected to the festival and industry as a whole.
Find the time to enjoy the festival
No matter how exhausted and busy I felt, I was lucky enough to embrace Cannes as a festival rather than just a market. Towards the second week, I had more time to attend screenings and parties – and generally take it all in!
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