Off to a “great start.” Groan. The flight is so far delayed one hour. I hope Carrie’s not waiting! Oooh! We’re moving! I don’t know if they tagged my bags correctly – I will hope and ask.
Well, we’re repositioned. Maybe waiting to taxi??
We finally got off the ground at 4:45 p.m., only 3 hours late.
In the meantime I had called Fred to see if the tickets could be changed to tomorrow. He was very unsympathetic. This wasn’t the first time I felt the prize was less than an honor. When I first got the call that my script “the Becoming,” placed in the top three, I was told to wait for the call back as to what I’d won. When that call came, the voice very blandly announced I won the trip. A real lack of excitement on their end. I had enough to make it for it, at the time.
I got the British Airways number and was told I could get on the 8:10 flight. If I bring them an FIM. I sat in nervous worriment as we approached Chicago not knowing where to get an FIM or where my luggage would end up.
I supposed the worst that could happen, though, was that I’d be stuck in London.
Then I wondered if I’d survive any of this.
Turned out Fred had panicked me for nothing. I had no problem getting on a later flight – also got rebooked on to Nice. Whew! This has fueled my determination to make this count. Of course there was still the problem of getting from Nice to the hotel at Antibes, but I felt sure George would arrange for it. George, the fellow who sponsored the KSN scriptwriting competition, and who planned to be my escort—and who sounded totally unexcited that I was his first-place winner.
The London flight from Chicago was delayed 2 hours! But on arrival in London I was met by a British Airways chauffeur to take me and another gal to the Nice flight terminal – and we made our connection!
George was not in Nice to meet me, and one piece of luggage was delayed. The time was 6.15 p.m. and I’d not had much sleep in the last couple days. I was very happy, though, with the service and cooperation of British Airways.
It took another hour to catch the bus, which will only get me to Antibes. From there I expected to taxi to the hotel. Alone. Knowing no French. Oh yes, I was keeping receipts! ($7.60 for Bus). The contest was supposed to reimburse me for expenses, and give me an additional $500 for winning. Before I left the airplane terminal I made sure that my bag would be delivered to the hotel.
I felt bad I hadn’t called home yet but I’d never had experience with international calls or these confusing phones. I thought I could have someone show me how at the hotel. I was 7 hours ahead so I could call at midnight and reach home at supper.
The bus driver was rude—he would not tell me where to get off. So I got off in the wrong place. A fellow on a cycle asked if I was Norwegian. He was supposed to pick someone up. No taxis in sight. So I walked. I found a hotel and they called me a cab. I used the French phrase book! And found out I had enough for the taxi.
George was waiting in the restaurant. He said that Fred gave him the wrong information. We had a wine and a long talk. (He told me he hoped with my name I could speak the language—is that why my script won this danged trip!?)
My bag was delivered. George and I had breakfast and took the shuttle to catch the train to Cannes.
We couldn’t just walk inside this famous film festival. We had to get ID tags. That wasn’t easy. I sat back and watched as George argued with the lady. I began to get the hunch that the contest was a set-up so he could get into the festival. I sensed that he was explaining to her that I won the contest and we could hardly break my heart, right? Anyway, whatever he said worked. We were given ID badges.
I first found an area to promote the script but George had other things on his mind. Said he’s working on a truth in history program I could help with, but he was also interested in working with the South Africans here. My script seemed to be the last thing on his mind. Finally we just split up and agreed to meet later.
I found the MIF Pavilion—where George’s South African booth is! I didn’t hurry to find him, though. I talked to people at MIF booths, showed interest in their films, and one took my synopsis and told me to check back tomorrow. Film Artist Network – Rod Barkley – A4. He also asked for my phone number at the hotel. He said he’d need to give me a release if they’re interested.
At the Greek Film site she gave me a card and said to send her a letter and she will send me producers’ names. At the Image Site he couldn’t hear about the script but he did give me a pass to a screening—at 10 p.m. tonight! I figured I could go if the hotel would send a cab for me at midnight or 1 a.m.
It wasn’t easy getting George to feed me. I figured I might go hungry.
I bought a small artist rendition of Cannes that was only 130 francs – they write the “1’ funny! He dropped the price to 100.
I figured I better see if George would reimburse me for the taxi tonight. Otherwise I would not go. He made it clear that the $500 I’m getting is supposed to cover expenses outside of room/plane. No additional award monies. Yet he continues to allow me to let him pay, when I pin him down, anyway. Confusing. Now I’ll have to budget wisely to get through the week. He also told me in a roundabout way he wished one of the other scripts had won. He has a real dislike for India and I guessed is Christian. Didn’t like my Columbus Day movement (what truth in History was he referring to?).
But he did give my synopsis out, so that makes two. I hob-nobbed with a couple of people out on the grounds while waiting for the red carpet, until they discovered I wasn’t anyone important.
The Red Carpet was a premier screening event comparable to the gala opening arrival at the Academy Awards. But I was too far away to make anyone would. The group of ID’d guests was huge here. I guess we missed the American ones.
That night I had a glass of wine on the balcony and watched the sun set. And boy did my feet hurt. And knees.
Got to realizing I don’t belong in this world—not on someone else’s terms. In other words, a trip is only worthwhile if you plan it yourself. (And others expect you and know you’re coming.) I can be a screenwriter and a lot of them probably do this—and stay out of the limelight. Yet writers are what the rest of this is all about. They could not do all this wheeling and dealing without writers.
But Cannes is not really set up to deal with writers as people. We’re an oddity here.
George told me he was leaving after our second day, but he’d give me the money for the next two rooms before he leaves. He’s got me on this trip for 8 days, and Cannes was only for four. He also warned me to stay out of the refrigerator.
I’m supposed to be making contacts here. But no one is interested. I admit, I was not that not pushy.
First thing on the second day, a guy stopped and asked if we wanted free tickets to a screening. Should have realized he was desperate for an audience—it was horrible! We left after 10 minutes. Found out they sell tickets for the afternoon in the morning and for the morning in the afternoon.
I found a great secluded space on a patio on the beach and came up with the perfect pitch. In the midst of writing it on the back of business cards, my table blew over. That got me noticed, and I was kicked out – private beach! Well, it was not posted. Anyway, discovered the guy who took my synopsis was gone, couldn’t find the Greek lady to give her my card, and was turned down by Bavarians. Couldn’t do Turk because of content.
So before I met George at 1:00 thought I should work on script a little, and sat on the step of Variety – one lady eating got kicked off, I was sitting more to the side. When it got close to 1:00 I ran inside MIF – forgot my business card holder on the step—it had my Visa card in it! Ran back out—gone! Looked all over. Went inside to ask, no one saw. Lucky there were phones right there. I called hotel to ask if I got a call and the girl who found it heard me and gave it back. Ahh! My life was saved. Grabbed George and brought him back to Variety for a drink. Wow. What relief.
I got in line and finally got a ticket to a screening for tomorrow. George and I met again at 4:30. I said I wanted to check the aisles below one more time, and he wasn’t interested. I said to him earlier that India was probably making movies too and he scoffed at me (Wonder how he liked Slumdog Millionaire). Sure enough I found the India booth. It wasn’t easy but I was attracted to a poster of young Ghandi. I was excited and a fellow came over and we started talking. I got his card and will mail him a synopsis. Not only that but when my brain got to working about how to make it more India ready, I found corrections in my vampire notes between G & I! (I don’t know what this means.) I knew George didn’t want to buy me dinner so I took myself out—had steak because nothing else sounded good.
George kept us out until 11:30 p.m. (doing what, I don’t remember now) Tomorrow will be another busy day!
George went to Monocco so I was on my own. I took the shuttle to where it would pick me up at 5:00 and walked back, not too bad except for these shoes. I got tired of not understanding people.
I gave my card with pitch to the gal at Greek booth to give to Despina.
Saw the India Doctor again and told him I could use U.S. contacts to get in touch with cable TV. He agreed to send me a preview tape. (never happened) I got excited about working for India.
I sat outside the Palais – huge inside – waiting for the Sissy Spacek movie. I didn’t get to do Planet Hollywood so will save that and souvenirs for tomorrow with the beach, because frankly, I was getting tired of trying to make contacts for reasons mentioned earlier. I finally got to call Joe—he said I got the $500. I continued to save receipts for expenses that would go over that.
The movie was Straight Story—not exactly brilliant. I would list five flaws. But where it shone, it shone brilliantly. It was what I needed to see. By David Lynch, set in the Midwest, knew he was going to die, decides to drive a tractor to see his brother in of all places Wisconsin—called a real party place. Hate those cheese things. (hats?) Based on a true story. Made me miss my kids and used my favorite Bonanza parable—one stick breakable, seven, won’t break.
Lots of applause. Inspired me to write a beautiful moving tale of a mom and son bike trip. Make the dad recently deceased, son drifting away, have the grandma present and set it right there in Shawano. Maybe a little more American Indian presence, maybe a little more action, maybe even get back after dark. The rest is wonderful as is! Call it “Pedals.” Where they both come to terms with death and new life. Ben can help! (Yeah right, I started the story treatment but got bored)
Both my trains were waiting for me today. Very lucky. Being alone meant no taking chances, so I didn’t.
The meal at the hotel was horrible—two choices, both very expensive. I needed operator assistance to call home. A gran Mariner is $8! Get me out of here! I was so exhausted I fell asleep in my clothes.
George knocked on my door at 8 the next morning to give me 1000 Franc for two more hotels. He threw it on my bed and I said careful, someone might think I’m a hooker and you’re my pimp. I locked it up with my plane tickets. (I was stuck here for 4 days beyond Cannes because that got him a cheaper plane ticket.)
He didn’t offer to share his cab with me this morning. So there I was, last day at Cannes, and I spent the morning walking, wondering if there was anything more I could do. From here I planned to sit on the public beach, working on Graveyard, planning to finish it. I saw Dr. Koppicar again this morning and he smiled and waved, but I had nothing more to say—for fear of not communicating well again. I will email as soon as I get back. I could not find the scoop on Lynch’s movie. They talked about him but all in French.
I got souvenirs for everyone, a wonderful meal at Planet Hollywood, a burger, a few more brochures.
I left Cannes without the fanfare I had hoped for, and yet I feel I have accomplished all I could. Geroge was wrong thinking this an atmosphere for selling scripts. But getting names and addresses to introduce myself—that will be handy. (nothing came out of this)
Except inspiration. I have come up with an idea for a play that is written like a greek drama/tragedy concerning the modern day issues of racism, the KKK and freedom. Could be interesting.
What can I say about the day after Cannes? I caught a train no problem, but when it came to getting off, I was again in a quandary. Nice St. Augustin? I asked a girl, “this for Aeroport”? and it sounded like she said yes. Well, I must have short-circuited because at the light I did not check which direction but kept walking—the wrong way.
Back uphill, at the station a nice English gentleman took me to the light and pointed it out. A short walk, yeah, I was exhausted when I got there. Again a hotel not close to anything. After I got checked in I decided just to walk around, take in the flavor of Nice. After a long walk—no toilets—I foundn out why nothing was open. It’s a Sunday and tomorrow will be a holiday so it’ll be just like another Sunday! Gee, thanks again, George.
So now what do I do? I checked the yellow pages for museums; two were not open tomorrow, and two did not answer.
I ended up in the hotel bar having cheap wine, free munchies and writing. This was nice.
I think the biggest disappointment was finding out George would have preferred one of the other two top scripts in his contest. And that he didn’t even finish reading mine. While we were at Cannes I read my new pitch to him and he said, nice, what is it? It was the script he was supposed to be trying to help me sell!
A very nice breakfast at this hotel, although the coffee was still strong. No egg, no salt or pepper but fruit, which was very welcome. I have come to the understanding with myself to use this time reading and writing. Used the time being productive. I came up with an idea for an editorial to comment on the state of non-religion in America compared to France and why Diversity Day is a necessity over Columbus Day. Will insist PG publish with my picture if they want also an interview of the trip (they didn’t).
I should reflect, before leaving France, of the curious game they play on the beach. One might think it a form of horsehoes. They place a marble size red ball on the ground and then they take turns tossing a bit silver orb at it. There are no differences in these silver orbs, or so it appears to an outsider. Perhaps it is the person who gets the closest wins, but the end of the game seems arbitrary. At any rate they are also allowed to hit other silver balls out of the park.
Finally got to the time to fly to Heathrow. At first she alarmed me saying my flight was overbooked and I was only a Q – but then realized she thought I was on an earlier flight. I was not allowed to check in until 4. Luckily there were carts for suitcases and they fit in the restroom. I could not find a banque open and feared I’d be stuck with these francs. Well, this was my first international travel since 1977.
I also did not ask the desk clerk about the odd game because he overcharged me on the room and I had to make him correct it.
Talked to a wonderful British chap who assured me the banks at Heathrow were open 24 hours, and that Heathrow was a depressing 20 miles from London. Thanks, George and Fred. Fellow said he lived near Oxford and said it’s wonderful. I wished he’d stuck around. Never got close to a romance on this trip.
The next morning I realized I needed the code to dial home from Britain and I didn’t have it. Wouldn’t be able to call until I got to Chicago. Also out of money—a peculiar feeling. But I have the 2 lbs. I needed to get to the airport in the morning. Must’ve got a lousy rate of exchange in England—the way I figured I should have had $30 to spare! Plus they upped the rate since the reservation. Blimey.
Bar waitress knocks drink price up too. Don’t think I care for this hotel much.
At the London airport, I had 61 pence to my name. I planned to buy myself dinner in Chicago with my Visa.
Flight was very nice. I sat between two guys from India, and got drunk! Only way I could sleep. I suppose if I am to reflect on this trip it is to say I came expecting to work, expecting more to speak English (at least at Cannes), and was never in the mood to shop or sightsee. And I got a lot done, including starting two new projects, which I didn’t need.
George never promoted my win, not during the festival and not after. Finally I sent my name as winner to a script newsletter, and George got pissed at me. I got an email from one of the other winners. She was wondering where her money prize was. And none of us got the two-page script review we were promised. I decided this was a con—George ran the contest because he wanted the money and way to get inside Cannes. He never ran the contest again and never promoted his winners. We had a screaming match on the phone one night. He said I owed him 7% of my script when it was optioned, if it was as a result of the win.
Now, as I type this in 2011, I know that if I option “Awakened,” it won’t be because of Cannes.