With The Festival De Cannes coming up for its 72nd year next month (May 14th - 25th) I thought it would be suiting that I share with you an experience that changed my life in exponential ways within the entertainment industry and discovering myself. In 2016, I applied for and was accepted to intern at the Cannes Film Festival with the Creative Mind Group. To me then, as a soon to be junior in college, this opportunity meant absolutely everything to me. I was placed within an International Film Sales and Production company, Bloom at the time and as of a few months ago, and my duties really included being a hostess - but man, it really was a dream come true. I was excited for the opportunity to ask questions about the film world and how it worked, to be within the race of the industry that was Cannes, and most of all, to experience the true magic and appreciation of filmmaking and to meet the wonderful people who would change my life forever.
I Got To Experience the Industry Glamour
Walking along the French Riviera in the morning to pass the countless yachts, luxurious hotels, the Palais, the high-end fashion boutiques, and at night, the cameras lining the red carpet leading into the Palais Premiere Theater - capturing Hollywood Stars like Elle Fanning, Kristen Stewart, Woody Allen, Shane Black, Ryan Gosling, and Geena Davis in their flowing gowns and suits and ties was something I thought I'd only be able to experience in a dream. On the "Boulevard de la Croisette" is where the ultimate magic of the entertainment industry is made, and the true appreciate for the luxurious art form takes place. Here, everyone involved and those who admire the craft truly celebrate those in front of and behind the camera and the process of it all. Being in the middle of it all allowed me to see the possibility of my future in the industry, and wow, what I imagined was SO bright.
I Was ABle to Work with An Amazing Company That I worked for After Graduation
As I said above, I was placed with the International Film Sales and Production Company - Bloom. In 2016, they did the sales for and helped to produce "The Nice Guys," with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. When I met everyone there, it was an extremely intimate experience. Bloom launched at Cannes in 2014 and was a relatively new company. That being said, the team was pretty small - yet mighty. Not only had they worked sales on many well-known films, but they did it with a team of seven people - and rocked it all of the way. With that, I worked my butt off every chance I got, going the extra mile in every small way to make the slightest but most wonderful difference each day.
While most other companies were housed in those lavish hotels for their meetings while in Cannes, Bloom was in a three-story villa a little off of the croisette. That being said, each morning I climbed up and down those stairs hundreds of times to get the offices set up, taking guests to their meetings, and prior to, having in depth conversations with them and making them their drinks - showing them material, making sure they were happy and well-cared for, as well as picked up after guest lunches in the courtyard of the villa, attending to any needs that weren't yet known to be met, running to the other end of the croisette to the Palais to grab tickets to any screening the company needed, and any other thing I couldn't possibly think of right now.
Those in the company took note and saw the effort I was putting forth. While they were waiting for the morning or afternoon pot of coffee to be made, they stood with me in the kitchen. We had conversations about how they ended up in the industry, along with their dreams and my own, and I asked them countless questions about what they did and how it was done - as well as many other things regarding the industry. It was the best two and a half weeks of my life at the time, and I met life-long friends at that company that I cherish beyond belief.
I Networked And Learned - to put myself ahead
The Cannes Film Festival is not only a film festival, but one of the largest markets for film in the world. It certainly is the most prestigious. This means that everyone who was anyone, whether they were producers, directors, actors and actresses, singers, and the like were in Cannes during the festival. This being said, I made conversation with any and everyone I could and asked as many questions about themselves, the industry, and what they'd advise about getting into it. I wanted to be at the top, so I asked those who were already there, how to get there. Also - being a good person along the way, along with being yourself, is key. Don't listen to that "fake it until you make it," business. It's for amateurs.
I got to Attend Huge Movie Premieres on the Red Carpet
Okay. I'm going to fan girl here, because...WOW. Being able to get premiere tickets to the "Nice Guys," "Neon Demon," "Cafe Society," and this last Cannes when I went again, to "Blackkklansman," was absolutely out of this world, a dream come true. Walking the red carpet in a gown of my own, past the photographers, up the stairs, into the Palais, and to my seat made me feel like I was living my own Hollywood magix fairytale. Looking down to the orchestra section to see Ryan Gosling or Spike Lee a matter of feet away from me was mind blowing. To experience the appreciation for a film the way they're meant to be celebrated with applause and possibly a standing ovation for the talent and director of the film taking it in presently. To see all of the smiling faces, possibly tear stained cheeks, or breathlessness of the thousands surrounding them and myself is a feeling a couldn't possibly describe. Being in that theater inspired me and made me fall even more deeply in love with filmmaking.
I got to Experience The Luxurious City of Cannes
Whether it had been strolling through the historic streets taking in the architecture that had a thousand stories to tell, passing the high-end boutiques and stores, laying out on the beach drinking cocktails, attended world-class clubs, eating at the most exquisite restaurants that all serve food so delicious you could easily cry over, or drinking wine from decades to a hundred years ago - it felt like I had been the star in my own personal movie - and boy, I was loving it. Being immersed in the French culture, language, the prestigious film festival, the lights, the camera, the glory - was a life I was living beyond my wildest dreams. Also - not to mention the film after parties where you could congratulate the actors and directors first hand.
I met life-Long Friends
Whether it had been through my three roommates from the Creative Mind Group, the other friends in the group that we made from around the condo we were staying at, from networking around the festival, or simply through those from Bloom I made from working my internship. I made so many memories, lived through so many amazing lessons, and made life long friends along the way.
I Found Out Who I was and WHo I wanted to Be
Through my experience interning at Cannes, and really having that traveling experience be all on my own, I realized myself making choices and asking questions, that I'm not sure I would have done otherwise. I grew infinitely by being surrounded by the industry I dreamt of being in, and deciding to go after everything that I knew I needed and wanted while there without thinking. While experiencing life with friends and enjoying it through dancing, making up stories to get into extravagant parties, and not having reservations about how I would be seen, I learned to live in the moment and go with it with the most positive and opportunistic attitude. Most of all though, I allowed myself the chance to live the life I never knew I wanted, and to put myself into a position to achieve at the first moment of every day. I learned so much and worked so hard, that In fact, I got a job at Bloom before I graduated in 2018, and got to go back to Cannes for the festival right after I walked across that stage in my cap and gown.
This experience has impacted my life forever, and if your'e at all interested in the entertainment industry, the film business, or are just curious and wanting to grow in every way you can - please check out The Creative Mind Group to see what other programs they have in Berlin, Hollywood, Toronto, Cannes, and the Cannes Lion Festival (that's also in Cannes). You won't regret it.
Check out this link to find more about The Creative Mind Group.
Mary Gabrielle Strause