How do you pitch a film at Cannes?

Actress Eva Longoria poses for photographers as she arrives for the screening of the film Carol at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (Yves Herman/Pool via AP)
Actress Eva Longoria poses for photographers as she arrives for the screening of the film Carol at the 68th international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (Yves Herman/Pool via AP)
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The Cannes Film festival is one endless party, strung out along a beach front on the Med. At least that’s what it looks like from the red carpet and that’s what the organisers would like everyone to believe.

The Cannes Film festival is one endless party, strung out along a beach front on the Med. At least that’s what it looks like from the red carpet and that’s what the organisers would like everyone to believe.

The truth? Well, reality is a little different or at least it is if like me you’re a movie minnow trying to swim with the big fish. This year I could only give Cannes 48 hours, which was fine since I only had one meeting, booked on the terrace of the resort’s Grand Hotel.

The hotel management had thoughtfully laid out a fleet of inflatable sofas on the grass, which is where I found myself sitting next to an Austrian film financier, trying to persuade him to invest in a big screen version of my sci-fi novel, Viking Village.

His eyes lit up at the mere mention of the title - it turned out he had a strong interest in Scandinavian history. In fact the conversation seemed to be going well until I feel compelled to point out that the title is something of a misnomer. Viking Village is actually a futuristic adventure story set on Mars.

“That’s a shame,” he said “I’ve always had a thing about Ethelred the Unready.” Still, we pressed on. Building the sets and buying all those space suits is going to set us back a few bob and we need finance. By the end the Austrian has agreed to read the manuscript and having paid for our drinks, I’m optimistic. We leave, having shook hands and agreed to keep in touch.

And that’s it. My prime objective in Cannes was over in less than an hour. With time to kill I wandered over to the Palais de Film where my usual film making collaborator, Charis Orchard had been texting me in earnest.

She’d arrived on a later flight and had yet to purchase her conference pass. Somewhere between the beginning and the end of the queue Charis realised that the man standing next to her was a ranked Hollywood producer. Never slow off the mark, she’d taken the opportunity to pitch him her next film. Incredibly, he seemed interested and they’d exchange cards.

For most Cannes is a long slog and having run out of promotional cards and DVDs we retreated to the relative sanity of the British Pavilion. In truth it’s just an upmarket marquee and the only nod to the Brits is a Union Jack by the doorway. Inside though it was full of people with Home Counties accents who studied at Oxbridge, but it’s as good a place as any to go and have a sit down. Relaxing on its beach front terrace there’s a view of the whole of the bay and the harbour, although you can barely see the sea for the yachts. The best of them cost millions.

“Somebody’s got some money somewhere,” said one of my fellow country men with a slightly wistful air.

He’s right. Somebody has, but it isn’t easy to get you hands on it. Every year about 20 films grab 80 percent of the global revenue at the box office. The other 20 per cent is shared amongst the rest of the world’s creative output.

But that doesn’t mean we should give up. We just need to try harder and the Brit sat next to me had already perfected a positive attitude to his own place in the industry.

“Everyday of the week some famous director or producer retires or dies, whichever comes first,” he said pragmatically. “Some one has to replace these idiots. Why not me?”

Thus far, his attempts to raise funding have sadly come to nothing. In contrast though to the United States, Britain is awash with film funding schemes, many of them drawing on the National Lottery.

But it’s not as easy as it seems. Like me he’s already trawled through the regional film council funding forms and found himself engulfed by questions about his ethnicity, sexual orientation and physical strength. Well, I may have made the last one up, but it’s not just in Cannes where you have to jump through hoops.

Steven Cutts is a doctor and writer from Barnsley