May 17, 2012

Tarik Jackson from Cannes!

SCA's Student Blogger Updates from France

Reek Speaks is a guest blog for the School of Cinematic Arts. To read the original source, please visit:


The Cannes Film Festival is one of the busiest events of the year.  At any time at the festival there can be up to 50 events happening at once, from screenings to celebrity sightings, to break out musical numbers and of course elaborate parties.  Because there is so much going on your always feeling like you’re missing something.  For instance a typical day at Cannes you may want to check out a screening, attend a seminar, check your email at the American pavilion and have drinks at the pub with your friends.  Now this is a great day but while you were doing this there were tickets released for tonight’s premiere, Jaws is being screened on the beach, Kanye and Kim walk past on their way to Diddy’s yacht.   Then while you’re sleeping Tupac is having a party that you don’t need an invite to get into.  The worse feeling is waking up and hearing the new Pac song about his party from the night before and you weren’t there.  ( I feel like I have been as many places as I could while here but I still feel like I’m missing stuff.  My only solitude to missing these events would be that I was meeting someone that could potentially further my career, but man I would have loved to be in that holographic Pac party. 

Beast of The Southern Wild Panel Discussion

Since winning the Grand Jury award at this year’s Sundance film festival the buzz around Ben Zeitlin’s “Beast of the Southern Wild” has been growing bigger than the hair of it’s lead actress, Quvenzhane Wallis. The film has played twice here at Cannes to two full audiences, and has been the talk of the festival.  The poetic film shot on a very low budget with a cast of non-professional actors got a distribution deal through Fox Searchlight shortly after it’s Sundance premiere and should be released later on this year.  

Yesterday, the American Pavilion hosted a panel discussion with the main creative team of the film, about their journey to get the film made. The panel consisted of the two producers Dan Javney and Josh Penn, the film’s cinematographer Ben Richardson, the film’s co writer Lucy Alibar, and the writer/director Ben Zeitlin.  John Cooper director of the Sundance film festival moderated the discussion.

The group began the discussion with the beginning of their journey.  The idea for the film came from Ben and Lucy who had been collaborators since meeting in a playwriting contest back in high school.  Ben had met Dan Javney in college and the two collaborated on the short film “Glory at Sea” along with Penn and Richardson.  Once the script was complete the creative teams went up to the Sundance lab to develop the project even further.  The producers were members of the producer’s lab while Ben and Lucy were in the writer’s lab.

After the completion of the labs Ben and Lucy went to the delta region (Louisiana specifically) to further develop the story and build relationships with the people of the area.  Ben decided early on that he wanted to shoot a film with non-union actors, using the people from the region in the film.  This included looking at over 3,500 kids before landing on Quvenzhane to play the role Hushpuppy.   

During the course of the film the team dealt with numerous production issues but felt that they were able to get through them because the had a team that respected one another and were not afraid to be honest with one another.  Ben had even said that the best thing he could hear from a crewmember is “I don’t know”.  Not to mention the fact that they were all friends helped them make it through the tough hurdles of their production.  Once the film was wrapped they spent about two years editing the film before it was ready for Sundance.

The team let us know during the discussion that the path should be the story itself, and that the intention shouldn’t be to get into a great festival but to make a great movie.  That philosophy seemed to guide the team in all major decisions as they took 52 days to shoot, and over a year and a half to edit the film.   Not letting a strenuous schedule or deadlines drive the film, but taking the time to tell the best story possible.  This is a rare in today’s movie business because films are made to meet a release date that can determine how much money a film can make.     

As an emerging filmmaker stories like “Beast of the Southern Wild” serves as inspiration that it is possible to make good films in a non-traditional way.  Having a strong core team, a good script and a good cast is all you need.  The tragedy with a lot of filmmakers today is that we forget that fact, and we overwhelm ourselves with what is not essential to telling a powerful story.  If there is anything to be learned from the Beast crew it is that fact, and we should all take notes.

-Reek Speaks 

Ben Talking about the creative process:

Trailer to Beast of the Southern Wild

Cannes security- 05/21/21

Some may say that France does not have a strong army but my friends who ever says that is sadly mistaken.  If you ever attempt to attend a screening late, take the wrong entrance to the Palais, or forget your tuxedo the France national guard will come down on you faster than you can say REEK!  I myself have had numerous run-ins with the Cannes security.  None have been physical or over the top but we have had our share of disagreement.  It is almost as if each security guard has been prepped to treat each situation as life or death, and to carry out with extreme tactfulness.  The worst part of dealing with the Cannes security is that they all pretend to not speak English to prevent any attempt for some slick talking American to get past their their post.  As a slick talking American this is my kryptonite! How dare you do such a good job at guarding your post that I can’t get into an event without an invite!

Jokes aside the Cannes security does a great job at serving their nation; I mean festival.  The funny thing is that the audiences at home watch a well ran show on their t.v. screens and unaware that the Cannes security goes through extreme measures to prevent some crazy fan from touching Sean Penn’s glorious lion mane. 

Before this post is ran and I end up on every guards short list I must let it be known that if I were building a castle in France I wouldn’t build a moat to keep intruders from entering but I would hire the Cannes security team to keep the Germans from invading! 

-Reek Speaks

Reek In Cannes Day 1

As I approach my 24th year of life on this earth (May 21st) I have been blessed with the opportunity to leave the country for the first time in my life as an attendee at the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France.  Since arriving in France late last night I have not been able to stop obsessing over the minute details of this foriegn land.  The traffic signs, the single mothers, the vespa drivers.  I even saw a group of black teens dressed just like me, vintage snap back, skinny jeans and north face book bag, but were fluent in French.  That was cool.

Aside from the wonders of the South of France, the festival itself is a labrynth of markets, films, and opportunities.  My first day at the festival consisted of getting familiar with my home for the next two weeks.  I started in the Short film Corner, located in the basement of the Pallett, where my program Real Idea Studios is stationed.  Once I got an understanding of where we would be stationed my good friend Erica Watson, gave me a grand tour of the festivities.  Erica has had two shorts play int the corner and has one playing this year.  She walked through the international market place where each country has presence to sell and buy foreign rights of their films.  She then walked us to the Grand Lumiere, the main theatre where all the premieres would take place.  

Tonight Wes Anderson screened his newest film “Moonrise Kingdom” starring Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murrary.  The tickets for the opening ceremony sold out almost instantly so we weren’t able to attend, but luckily the festival has day after screenings where we can re watch films we have missed.  Walking pass the  Lumiere the day of a major premiere you can see many people dressed in tuxedo holding up signs that read “Moonrise Kingdom Bilet”, which means “Tickets for Moonrise Kingdom”.  This is a ritual that many local residents partake in as an attempt to get into very exclusive screenings.

Tarik Jackson

Though I couldn’t get tickets into the screening I still decided to watch Wes Anderson and his cast strout up the red carpet into the theatre.  Watching Wes’s crowning moment made me realize what the Cannes film festival is all about.  It’s not about wheter your film wins the Palme D’ or or not, but rather being able to enjoy that moment when the entire international community of filmmakers recognizes your work.  Being able to appreciate that people will travel from miles away in Tuxedos to stand in long lines to watch your film first.  People will stand outside your screening begging for tickets to view your screening.  As an up and coming filmmaker we beg people to watch our films hoping for the day people will beg to see to our films.  Being able to see Wes embelish in that moment knowing he stood in the same place I and countless other filmmakers stand is beyond encouraging.  

All in all the first day of Cannes was pretty low key, there were rumors of a midnight Diddy party but I didn’t attend nor can I confirm that actually happened.  The rest of the festival looks like it will be amazing and I will update you guys on everything that I witness!