"Hey, all of the SAG low budget agreements require that the films be made in the United States. So why does SAGIndie go to France every year?"
We go to Cannes for four reasons:
1. The American Pavilion – SAGIndie is a sponsor of The American Pavilion, which is the meeting place for almost every professional in the industry at some point during the festival and market. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed and everyone there is approachable. For example, last year one of the people we asked to participate in a round table discussion didn’t show up, so we looked around the Pavilion and noticed that legendary producer Saul Zaentz was eating lunch at a nearby table. I asked him if he’d mind filling in and he spent the next hour talking to a group of film students about his prolific career as an independent producer. The same thing happened with the director of "The Woodsman," Nicole Kassel and with Michelle Rodriguez the year before, who both generously shared their experences with… the second reason we go to Cannes:
2. The Students – For the past sixteen years, The American Pavilion and Kodak have brought 150-200 student and emerging filmmakers, mostly from the U.S., to participate in a work-study program. In exchange for working at the Pavilion or for other sponsors, the students are given festival credentials and the opportunity to meet and interact with industry professionals. In 2003 SAGIndie became the sponsor of the SAGIndie Student Union, a meeting place where the students can hang out, relax, and enjoy a meal with some really cool SAG actors. We also schedule industry round tables and pitch sessions with producers, managers, agents, and distributors.
Why do we do we do this for the students? Because they are the next generation of indie filmmakers: The exact market we’re trying to reach. In fact, Kodak conducted a study of former students who have participated in this program and found that almost 90% of them are working in the film industry. We want these students to remember their experience in Cannes and to think of SAGIndie when they start to cast their movies. In other words, we want to brainwash them.
3. Everyone is there – The first time I went to Cannes I was sent by SAG to announce the implementation of Global Rule One. Although this initiative has been very successful, in 2002 no one knew how it would turn out and many producers were… uh… less than happy to talk to me. So I spent a lot of time hiding here. The thing I noticed most about Cannes was that it seemed that every U.S. entertainment company, big and small, was there and that the unions and guilds were conspicuous in their absence. I feel very strongly (and this is that "opinion" stuff that I mentioned in the disclaimer) that if our brothers and sisters in the labor movement want to be taken seriously by the industry we have to be everywhere that the employers are. With SAGIndie’s attendance I feel that the American film unions have at least some representation at the most famous film festival in the world.
And the fourth reason we go to Cannes?
4. We’re not idiots – Look at this view. This is from our "office" at the Pavilion.
It doesn’t suck.