Guest blog: Festival habitués I came across at the festival this year — you know them well, don't you?
1. THE DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDREL
Found: Glad-handing at the Carlton lobby bar.
Drink: Whatever he orders on your tab (likely some brightly colored French liqueur no one can pronounce).
Transpo: Knowing all the back alleys and secret entrances, he needs no transportation other than his own confidence.
Male, suit and tie, impeccably coiffed, bad teeth and a worse accent. He is at all the best parties, knows all the VIPs and appears wealthy yet pays only in charm. He has been to Cannes more years than you have been alive, and claims to have had the penultimate affair with the courtesan whose you-know-whats inspired those domes atop the Carlton.
He has a running inside joke with Alec Baldwin – when they see each other they point crooked fingers skyward, make silly faces, and crack up, never exchanging a word.
He is not on IMDB yet has a squadron of horrendous yet passionate movie pitches on hand, perhaps invented on the spot. If you hear: "It's an erotic thriller about the blind and big-calved wife of the rotary phone inventor who had an affair with Mussolini," you are likely in the presence of The Scoundrel.
Maybe he's for real, maybe not. Either way, with this type of grifter, the griftee, so satisfied with the puzzling experience, doesn't mind paying his way.
2. THE SHORTS CORNER WHIPPERSNAPPER
Found: The Petit Majestic street party, the go-to for those without a go-to.
Drink: Whatever's free. He eats and drinks purely for survival.
Transpo: easy-Jet or Ryanair, back seat middle, still excited.
One of the more numerous Croisette creatures, this rookie is spotted by his plumage — a Fedora, a mustache and suspended data service on his cellphone (the bill likely addressed to "Silver Lake" or "Williamsburg."
Each year, thousands arrive, expecting to molt right into the next Winding Refn or even Spielberg. "Why shouldn't it be me?" he thinks. Many truly believe a dealmaker will actually watch their short film, read their script, fund their feature, feed their boundless enthusiasm. Désolé!
Yes, one or two will make it, maybe even become the next Benh Zeitlin, the next Ryan Coogler. Most, however, will never again return to the azure shores, making way for the next wave of 'Snappers.
Some survival tips to the financially strapped 'Snappers: when in France, drink Rose – it's cheaper than water. Cell phones – the Palais is convenient but Orange is cheaper. And don't EVER refer to the French police as the oui oui patrol.
3. MONSIEUR IS NOT POSSIBLE
Found: In your way.
Drink: The tears of those who can't get in the Weinstein party.
Transpo: Big man, tiny car.
Like American Express, he is everywhere you want to be. However, he doesn't take American Express or any other type of bribe. The makeup of the species looks like a cross between a gym rat and an Armenian hitman. His female counterpart compensates for the lack of roided up pecs with a "list" you are not on, a long nose from which to look down upon you, and an even longer index finger evolved over generations of "Is Not Possibles" to give the heartbreaking wag. He will make sure, no matter who invited you and how many levels of invitations you have, it "Is Not Possible" for you to enter.
There are ways around this territorial species, yet I cannot divulge my secrets beyond walking in "with" the band, or managing to photobomb the VIP list and then hoping they haven't already let in a Mr. Tarantino.
However, as much as I loathe to encounter this species, when I have my own party at Cannes one day, I will go immediately to them to make sure riffraff like me are kept out. Until then…
4. THE CHIC SHEIK
Found: Helicoptering from one side of his yacht to the other.
Drink: 101 magnums of your most expensive champagne because a rival Sheik ordered 100.
Transpo: A Maybach, a Lamborghini and a G-Class Mercedes, all sand-dune orange and parked up front.
This desert variatal has adapted with a bank account the size of Texas to survive even the harshest fluctuations in air conditioning at Eden Roc Hotel, where he occupies every suite but Harvey's. He has also grown G4 wings to migrate at the drop of a keffiyah to more amenable locales. He has nothing to do with film, just enjoys being a star amongst stars, which is for anyone who can afford it. Which means it is for him only.
Surrounded by flocks of Eastern European ladies with flamenco legs, he has a yacht but prefers his suite. At over 300 feet, his yacht is too large to enter the Cannes area, plus he would never mingle with those "teeny" things, so he keeps it at the deeper port of Antibes with the Russian oligarchs and Microsoft founders.
His bills can easily total six figures at nightclubs like Gotha and Baoli, and if he can't drink all that champagne at least he can spray it. Lucky passers-by might have the best champagne of their lives by simply looking skyward and opening their mouths. Our Chic Sheik gives a whole new meaning to "making it rain."
5. THE DEALMAKER
Found: The Majestic Hotel bar holding court in blue velvet chairs.
Drink: Cafe. Strong Cafe.
Transpo: She doesn't need any. She hasn't moved from her comfy chair since the spec sales heyday of the 90's.
Finally someone who actually has a real career in the movie business! Dressed smartly, she aims to prove William Goldman wrong in his "nobody knows anything" description of the film industry, turning it into, at least, "somebody's gotta know something." She is that somebody.
Whether it is listening to new pitches, closing coproduction deals with cash-rich foreign countries, finding the next "Taken," fielding calls from L.A., all the while with hummingbird-like assistants keeping the coffee and the meetings flowing, she goes nowhere yet is always on the move. All of those movies you see advertised on the side of Croisette hotels, this is where they were born. When she returns to L.A. she'll continue the pace with talent meetings at Chateau Marmont, make a movie or three, hope for the best, then start all over again.
She sits with a cocked head and clasped hands as the chosen few get a handful of minutes to wow her with a pitch. She murmurs throughout, never letting her cards show. She discovered all of those guys, Spike and Mike and the rest, and she can do the same to you! All you have to do is get to that table just a few feet from where you stand at the bar, contemplating which €20 drink has more bang for your buck and counting your blessings. So close, yet so far away. Good luck!
6. THE UMBRELLA MAFIA
Found: In the rain, every 30 feet along the Croisette on your way to the Palais.
Drink: If it's worth anything it's for sale, so he'll only hold a drink to demonstrate the "refreshingness" of it.
Transpo: Though he sports his country's traditional garb up top, all that standing demand comfort, meaning good old Nikes underneath.
Cannes 2013 was especially soggy. Everyone grumbled about it (and grumbling from the South of France, of course, falls on deaf ears to those grinding away back home). But, where we see misery, he sees opportunity. Forgot your umbrella? He is there. I don't care if you could negotiate community service for Lindsay Lohan, he will best you. When he says the umbrella costs €30, and you say €20, he looks at you standing there, the raindrops dangling from your eyelashes and dripping from your nose, and says simply, "It is raining. €30." Of course, the umbrellas break after a good strong wind but that's beside the point.
And when the sun comes, he's armed with beach hats a plenty, a board full of knockoff sunglasses and a friendly smile. One can only hope that, after raking it in from unprepared movie execs and Whippersnappers, he decides to return the love by investing back in film. But I fear he's too prudent for that.
If you find yourself lacking an entertainment attorney in a pinch, maybe you should bring this opportunist to the table. You'll have your three-picture deal negotiated in no time flat. As a bonus, everyone at the aforementioned table will walk away with sweet new shades, floppy hats and wacky dancing stuffed animals.
7. THE COUTURE CAT BURGLER
Found: Yeah, right…
Drink: Armand de Brignac champagne, which he charges to the Underhills.
Transpo: A grappling hook and a hotel maid uniform.
Cannes was rocked and (let's be honest) titillated this year after a $1 million-plus Chopard jewelry heist that happened, suspiciously, the same day that Sofia Copola's "Bling Ring" played, followed by a second even larger theft. Were they connected? Was it an inside job? Was it fake Psy? Or did our character scale the chiseled walls of five-star hotels, make away with millions in loot which is now being laundered through the nearby Monte Carlo Casino.
The CCB has the most expensive taste in history. She is a limber and stunning creature, as beautiful if not more so than the starlets she targets. Chopard, upon seeing the necklace on her neck, might even forgive her. But as bright as the plumage is on this slender lass, she is also able to camouflage and blend into any environment.
She has nothing to do with the movie industry, other than identifying a rich target, but the movie industry likely will have something to do with her. Picture it … Soderbergh comes out of retirement for an "Oceans 14" as Danny Ocean and the gang partner with a mysterious cat burglar, versus the great French inspector, Hercule Poirot, at Cannes 2014. International starlets show off the world's most expensive Jewelry, ripe for the taking. And if Pitt and Clooney can't remove the treasures using their powers of persuasion, our svelte swindler will swipe it during the square-jawed distraction. Green light that sucka!
I am happy to write up the treatment for you
Oh yeah, and the rest. Let's not forget the people who are actually doing business, selling our movies, providing the industry with capital, making it happen. The sales agents, the hustling producers, the visionary directors, the usual and the unusual suspects, all of those who truly believe in the importance of film. At the end of the day they are not as stereotypical as the above, probably because they are real people doing real work and the reason this whole circus can go on. A tip of the beret, a rev of the Bugatti V-16 to you, my dear sirs and gentlewomen. Keep it real. Or, as the case may be in the movies, unreal.