CANNES: Days 1-4

Where do I even begin? Right now it is just past midnight on Thursday (officially Day 2 of the Festival, technically Day 4 in Cannes) and already so much has happened since arriving on Monday.

I have been thinking and dreaming about being here for so long that it doesn’t feel like reality.

Though maybe that’s just the severe sleep deprivation that has me walking around the Croisette like the newest Walking Dead character (try like ten hours of sleep total in the past four days).

With basically a handful of hours each night to sleep and maybe a half hour to eat a day, I’m not really sure what’s keeping me going. Some sort of warped mix of adrenaline, ambition, excitement, and maybe like a tiny little hope that the next day I will somehow master time traveling or figure out how to add an extra 42 hours to my day.

ANYWAY. I want to get all these thoughts down before it gets any later here so to the beginning we go.

I arrived to Nice from London on Monday around noon, already exhausted from no sleep. Good thing the airport is tiny so even in my zombie state I was able to navigate my way to Terminal 2 where the Creative Minds people were meeting. Though I guess I wasn’t awake as I thought cause I walked up and down the tiny little terminal passing the group like twice without realizing it. Thinking I’d try to avoid looking like a kid who lost her mom at Costco, I got in line at the currency exchange and figured I’d do another lap after I got some Euros. Luckily I was rescued by one of the program staff slash my good friend Richie who spotted me and came over to surprise me and say hello. He pointed out the group (literally about 20 people milling about and staff members with t-shirts walking around like how blind was I) and I left the unmoving line to go mingle.

I was notified by the program a few days ago that I had been selected to be featured in their new documentary-style promotional video which will follow along a few participants and showcase their experiences at the festival. I’m mega excited about this but definitely didn’t think it would start so quickly — like me and Richie’s reunion hug was the first thing to be documented. No time to waste. I was then pulled away for a few shots of me walking around with a suitcase and some side interviews.

My ego is fine don’t worry.

Finally the shuttle arrived to take us to the hotel where we had to mill about for a few hours and wait for our rooms to be ready. Most people were really jet-lagged so emotions were running high around hour three of waiting but to look at the silver lining, we all had a chance to get to know each other and bond. I’ve made some really good friends in the past few days and most of them were from connecting on that first day.

I hadn’t eaten anything that day out of excitement slash London is expensive and I hadn’t wanted to spend money on overpriced airport food. Sofs had given me a bag of almonds, two cereal bars, and a yogurt from her house which I spaced out throughout the day but by the time I finally got my room around 5:30pm and I realized that that was all I had eaten in twelve hours, I desperately needed to eat. After a quick unpacking, I met up with my friend Charlotte (you’ll be hearing a lot about her — she’s going to be my travel buddy after the program!) and a few other participants for dinner. We went to the place directly in front of our hotel and had the best pizza I’ve ever had.

That is an exaggeration. But I cannot emphasize enough how hungry I was.

I walked around the area for a bit on my own looking for a cafe with wifi and ran into some of the guys I had met earlier as we all waited for our rooms. They were on an alcohol mission so I tagged along, feeling immensely protected by five very tall boys flanking me on all sides.

Around 9pm, I got a call that our fifth and final roommate, Brooke, had arrived so I went to go meet her. We had been chatting on Facebook and had roommate-requested each other so it was great to finally meet in person. We’ve become crazy close the past few days helping each other handle the overwhelmingness of the experience.

After a quick FaceTime with my mom, I finally finally finally crawled into bed and went to sleep sometime past midnight.

The bliss didn’t last long. We woke up around 6:30am to get ready for breakfast and head down to meet the group at 8:30am for Orientation Day.

You might be wondering why we would need two whole hours to get ready — five girls, one bathroom. That is all.

Starting on Wednesday, we had shuttles going all day from our hotel to the Croisette but on Tuesday, we had to leg it to the Radisson where orientation would be held. Nothing like a 2 mile walk at 9am when you’re sleep deprived and jet lagged. On the walk over, I was finally able to meet Danielle, the other participant who is interning with me at the same company. We had been emailing a bit, and we got to know each other even better on the long walk. And as it turns out, we are as alike as our names (read: basically the same).

How lucky am I to have stumbled on not one but two amazing girls to lean on during all this insanity?

After orientation we had a quick tour of the area which was immensely helpful. Danielle and I left near the end to go meet with Sydney Levine, our internship supervisor. We met at the Grand Hotel and talked more about the type of work we would be doing and what we could expect from the festival. Danielle would be working more with Sydney and I would be helping out her associate, Erin, whom we would meet the next day.

Sydney took us around and gave us a tour of the Palais and the International Village where we would be spending the majority of the time. Everything was still under construction. We honestly couldn’t believe how it would all be ready by the next day.

We took a city bus back to the hotel to shower and change for dinner. Everyone was still pretty exhausted so we went to a Cuban restaurant around the corner. It wasn’t really a Cuban restaurant but it was food and I hadn’t eaten since 8am. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a large group so it took over an hour to get our food. By the time I ate, it had been 13 hours since my last meal.

I don’t know when I started fasting but I don’t like it.

Since dinner ran late and I had some things to catch up on the computer, I again ended up going to bed around 1am.

Wednesday was Opening Day — the official first day of the Festival. And if I thought the first two days had been crazy, it was nothing compared to this insanity.

Danielle and I met up for breakfast and took the shuttle over to the Palais to meet with Sydney and Erin. I started understanding a little bit more of my internship. Erin is a contributor to Sydney’s company, SydneysBuzz.com, which is a member of the IndieWire network. My job was to tag along while she interviewed the international sales agents at the Festival and help out with transcribing the interviews and writing some articles from other events we would be attending.

I don’t know much about distribution and the business side of things so I was still a little confused but I’ve been doing my own research and I’ve learned a crazy amount since yesterday, especially after sitting in and transcribing a few interviews. It wasn’t until today that I’ve really started to get a grasp for the work. I’ve always automatically cringed at anything “business” or “finance” because ugh math blech numbers why. But I’m actually enjoying it? Believe me, no one is surprised as I am.

I met up again with Danielle and her friend after lunch and we spent some time walking around and taking in all the hustle and bustle around us. Even in the early afternoon, people were already lining up behind barricades in anticipation of the Opening Night and there were even a few extremely well-dressed people walking around with signs asking for tickets (something which may or may not be happening tomorrow for Woody Allen’s Irrational Man premiere — NO SHAME).

After scoping out a few places, Danielle and I headed back to the hotel to regroup and get ready for our first night out. We met up with Brooke, and I led them to the liquor store the guys and I had discovered on the first night. Drinks are crazy expensive (obviously) and we’re all basically poor starving students (yeah even me I’m still in denial shut up) so cheap alcohol pregaming here we come.

We had a ton of fun but last night was definitely a learning experience. We found out just how strict dress code was at the clubs and how expensive a vodka soda can be and how windy it gets by the beach and discovered the main networking bar with relatively cheap drinks and that Uber is a thing in the south of France and is actually really inexpensive and way better than a regular city taxi.

We made it home past 3am. I had an early day today with an interview at 9am meaning I was up at 7am meaning three hours of sleep for me! I’m on a roll.

Today was Day Two of the Festival and Day Four since I have arrived. I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of things though everything is still really confusing and kind of dreamlike and my anxiety is through the roof.

After the 9am interview, Erin and I headed to the Plage de Palmes to meet Sydney and Danielle. It must be pretty exclusive because we had some trouble getting in but as soon as we explained we were with Sydney, they let us go through. Danielle and I put our names down on the list so that they continue to let us in throughout the Festival so fingers crossed there’s some solid happy hours or parties happening there that we can get into.

After touching base with Sydney, Erin and I went to the Palais Cafe to finish up our work. When I was done, I met up with Danielle who was finishing up her job confirming meetings with the country reps at the International Village. I tagged along as we tried to find details for the Colombia, Panama, and Brazil parties.

We headed back to the hotel to drop our stuff off and change and since we had the rest of the afternoon off, we decided to take the train to Antibes, a tiny little town just 15 minutes away. Danielle’s friend was living there and leaving tomorrow so we didn’t want to miss the chance to explore a new place.

Here’s a train tip for all young travelers: always ask for the student price. They won’t offer it and it can save you like 9 euros, maybe more.

We met up with Danielle’s friend and his friends who were all incredibly nice as they showed us around. We were starving at this point so we sat outside at this tiny little Italian restaurant. Afterwards, we just walked around. I took an insane number of pictures but this place was just so beautiful I couldn’t help being Obnoxious Tourist with GoPro and Selfie Stick.

After a while, we decided to check when the next train back to Cannes was. I wanted to get back around 7pm so we could get some work done before getting ready and going out.

The next time was 6:37.

The one after wasn’t until 7:38.

It was 6:25.

We were a ten minute walk from the train station.

I’m not ashamed to say that Danielle and I frantically ran the last five blocks to the train station trying not whack locals with our selfie sticks and stumbling onto the platform not ten seconds before the train rushed past and opened its beautiful doors.

Sweating and out of breath, we rushed in and plopped down exhausted. When we got off the train and started making our way back to the shuttle, we realized the Mad Max premiere had just started and immediately forgot our exhaustion and made our way through the throngs of people trying to catch a glimpse of the red carpet. We walked all the way around to get to the other side where we could be closer, finally entering into the area right next to it (accessible only with our credentials *hair flip*). We got to see the main celebrities arriving, mostly watching through the lens of our phones and GoPros as they reached over everyone’s heads.

Once everyone had gone in, people started dispersing and we made our way to our hotel. I couldn’t believe how tired I was. We half-heartedly made plans to shower and get ready to go out but I think we both knew we weren’t going to make it. It’s only been four days but when you’re firing with all cylinders for so long, sometimes you just have to stop and take a breather. I took a much needed shower and spent the night getting work done for Erin and figuring out a system to organize pictures from my phone and GoPro on my computer (I’m already running out of space).

And that is it. It is now almost 2am and my eyelids can’t hold themselves up anymore. I know this post was crazy long (jam-packed schedule and affinity for rambling do not a good blogger make) so I’m going to try to not let more than two days pass in between posts. Since I barely have time to eat and sleep, y’all should be mega grateful.

I am beyond excited for this weekend. Friday and Saturday tend to be the best nights to go out and I really want to try to go to the Irrational Man premiere. My work load is pretty light as well so hopefully I’ll have more time to explore Cannes and meet more interesting people and start attending screenings and events and workshops.

There is so much happening I can’t even handle it.

Stay tuned!

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