Cannes: Day 1

Or at least day one for me, everyone else has been here a while.

The day got off to a nice start. Nice and early. Up at 3 for the flight, got to the airport on time, got upgraded on the flight and slept most of the way here.

Going great so far, then it I hit the first snag, I’d arranged to collect a French sim card, so my phone calls would be cheaper. It didn’t turn up. Neither did the sim card person. Closer examination of the form shows they got the date wrong and thought I was arriving yesterday.

Bugger.

Oh well, it’s just a little set back. I’m not planning on using my phone that much anyway.

I’ve been using it all day, but I wasn’t planning on using it, so it’s okay.

My luggage arrived without a hitch, the rental car was there; ready and waiting. I was back on track, until I opened the wrong door on the car and found myself facing the passenger seat. Took me a while to work it out, then I had to pretend I was examining the size of the glovebox for the benefit of the smirking teenage rental agents.

The glovebox was satisfactory and I’m on my way again.

Two things struck me as I drove away.

No, not cars, notions.

1) I hate driving on the other side of the road – I’m really bad at it.

2) The only time I’ve done it is in the States where the cars are all automatic and there’s very little danger of having to turn a corner – the roads are very straight anyway and the cars are virtually impossible to turn. It’s easier to hire one going in the right direction than turn an American car.

The manual gearbox thing was throwing me. I have to use my right hand? Oh, that explains why the window keeps opening every time I try to change gear.

Now, I’m the world’s worst navigator. I always know where north is (don’t know how, metal pin in the head, maybe?) but that’s completely useless when you’ve no idea which direction you’re supposed to be heading in.

I did my usual trick of just picking a direction at random and following it until I either ran out of land or found a road sign for where I wanted to go. Luckily, it was the latter of the two and I managed to get all the way to the village where my hotel is without incident.

Only thirty minutes, brilliant.

Then I took a wrong turn.

I knew instantly it was wrong, I could see my hotel dwindling in the rear view mirror. Instead of turning round and retracing my steps (which I’ve always seen as a sign of defeat), I kept going with the following plan:

“If I turn left up ahead, then left again, I’ll be heading in the right direction.”

Except there were no lefts. I was in a left turn free zone. There were precious little rights too, and when I did find one I also found myself heading out into the signpost-less countryside.

Half an hour later, I admitted defeat, turned the car round and made it back to my hotel.

Yes! “J’ai, or possibly, Je suis avez une reservation, sil vous plait.”

“Non.”

“Oh.”

“Apres Trois heure.”

“Oh. Vraiment?”

“Que?”

“Never mind.”

Okay, so I can’t check in until after 3. I think. So I decide the best bet is to head into Cannes and pick up my accreditation. Straight down to Cannes, no problem, entered the city and promptly got lost.

Good and proper this time.

Every now and then I’d find a familiar landmark, but I’m prepared to swear in court that someone was moving them around. When I eventually found my bearings, I couldn’t find a parking space. After driving around for a good half an hour, I panicked, took a deft series of random turns – mostly up bus lanes, the wrong way up one way streets or just generally into the oncoming traffic – and found myself in a car park right underneath the Palais.

Yes! I’m here!

Accreditation was remarkably easy. I got a little shoulder bag full of goodies and a free bottle of water which tasted remarkably like cat’s piss.

I met up with Marion Pritchett, the producer of ‘The Seventh Sword of Bathrick’, had lunch thrown at me. “Eat! We’ve got a meeting in twenty minutes!” And found myself in various meeting with various production houses in the Czech Republic pavilion.

They’re all very nice, and they all want to help make the film.

It occurs to me, these meetings are not in my best interests. I’m on a percentage of the budget and the whole point of going abroad is to get it much, much lower. I’m sitting in the sunshine, listening to people talk about how they can pay me less money.

This can’t be right, surely? I can’t be spending all this money to do myself out of a lot more money? Of course, a percentage of nothing is nothing. If the film doesn’t get made, I don’t get anything, and the important thing is getting it made; but still …

More food after that, a few drinks and a quick run down of the week’s itinerary: busy. I’m not going to have much time to meet some of the other people I know out here; it’s going to take some clever scheduling. Something I have absolutely no talent for.

At about nine o’clock I realised I still hadn’t checked in and my car was sitting in a pay carpark in the centre of Cannes. Right in the centre, dead underneath the red carpet.

What time does it close?

Surely, they can’t close it early: all those celebs have to park somewhere, don’t they?

Or maybe, they close it early because all those celebs have to park somewhere?

Shit.

In a similar vein, what time does the hotel reception close? Will I be able to get in anywhere tonight?

Double shit.

Luckily, it’s all worked out alright and I’m back in my room. I’ve had a couple of invites for a night out, but I’ve been up since 03.00 and I just can’t be arsed to drag myself back into town.

So I’m not.

Tomorrow I’ve got a couple of meetings lined up, or so I’m told. To be honest, I’m think I’m just here for comic relief. The high point of my day was when this guy from a Czech Republic production studio was giving out business cards; when I was introduced as the writer, he just put it back in his pocket.

Now I know I’ve arrived.

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