This picture makes the perfect first entry. Let's look at it for a moment.
It was taken in one of many "VIP" lounges where journalists, press attachés and celebrities are corralled during the Cannes Film Festival.
Deep inside the concrete bunker that is Le Palais des Festivals, free champagne was flowing. After a couple of glasses and with time to kill, I asked the stranger sitting next to me to reach for one of the many polaroid cameras left for everybody to use. Whilst most people would exhibit a dignified stiffness, I knew exactly what to do: Grab another glass and jump on the Palme d'Or sofa.
This picture makes me smile every time I look at it! I hope it will work its magic on you too.
Back in 1998, I was working in London as a production supervisor for a small TV company called YCTV (Youth Culture Television) set up by Prince Charles' ex-girlfriend Sabrina Guinness. A friend of mine who just got started with UK Film PR agency McDonald & Rutter asked me: Would I be able to take some time off in May? Fly to South of France and take-over his old job during The Cannes Film Festival. Good money, all expenses paid - "Yeah, why not?" - "Ask them to call me" - They did...
A few months later, I walked nervously in a pizzeria full of media types and met my new boss Mark Pogachefsky. Mark was a giant teddy bear squeezed into a sleek Los Angeles PR executive outfit, and, as I would learn later: the original Supermensch. My duties were simple: As a French speaker, I was to be the agency's fixer. In other words my glamorous Film PR job was to fetch coffees, stand in the occasional downpour giving out photocopies, and, if I'd showed some promise, I might... might have the chance to help US journalists getting-in at oversubscribed screenings of films I would seldom see. Anyway. After washing off a large pizza with some rosé, it was time to get on with my first assignments: To collect our apartments' keys, fill-up the fridges and extract from the festival's officials' clutches our credentials AKA les Accréditations whilst the rest of the team was making their way to us straight-off the plane from L.A.
Over time The Pogachefsky Company became MPRM Communications, and me their "associate" in Cannes, Toronto and Sundance. Was I any good at running Cappuccino-Grande-With-Soy-No-Milk. Did I manage to have the right productions-notes copied on time & delivered into the right hands? ABSOLUTELY. As the picture shows I think my real skill was to make it fun!
I kept on working at film festivals with MPRM for just over ten years. Until I got head-hunted for an International publicist positon at Focus Features. Sadly... the runner-up doesn't get the crown... yet, despite my broken heart, Mark convinced me to join MPRM one more time, fly once again to Cannes and prepare to shift my career and devote myself to video/film editing.
Many thanks to Mark Pogachefsky for taking a chance on me. Thank you to Laura Kim and Michael Lawson: the perfect mentors. Big warm hugs to James Lewis, Chris Libby, John Murphy, the other Jennifer Lopez, Guido Gotz, Doctor Zanzibar... And last but not least my buddy Karen Rhee!
The above pictures were taken during various Festivals. Some are graphic mementos produced during my time at MPRM.