(Los Angeles, California--July 14, 2014) Last month, Accomplice Media director Alberto Belli made his first trip to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Belli was one of 18 directors worldwide chosen to take part in Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase. He was selected on the basis of his hilarious viral film It’s Not Porn, It’s HBO, which has attracted nearly 5 million views on YouTube. Belli’s film was also nominated for a Young Directors Award, in a competition sponsored by Shots.
Here Belli reflects on his week in the south of France:
The New Directors Showcase took place in the Grand Auditorium on Thursday at 10 a.m., very early in the morning by Cannes standards. The house was packed. I hadn’t expected so large a crowd, more than 2000 people.
The showcase has been going on for 24 years and has a very good record for discovering new talent—Tarsem, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry have been featured in the past—so everyone wants to meet the new directors.
The show is also known for big openings. Last year, it was bright lights and lasers. This year, they dispensed with that. Instead, nurses handed out wristbands that were used to measure the audience’s emotional state. The results were projected in graphical form onto the screen, alongside the films. Blue meant calm, green meant they were more excited. It was interesting to see.
The films were quite eclectic. A lot were very visual; only a few had dialogue. All were good. I wondered how the audience would react to my film. When it began, there was silence, but at the end, it got a big ovation lasting maybe 30 seconds. That was cool.
After lunch, it was time for Shots Magazine
’s Young Directors Awards. This event was held at the Marriott before a crowd of 1000 people and hosted by François Chilot, founder of the YDA and president of the French production company Les Producers. The ceremony lasted about an hour. My film was competing in the category Web Film/North America and was one of the last to screen. I was hoping my film would get another good reception, but I was nervous. This crowd was a bit younger than at NDS and appeared to be mostly European. I wasn’t sure if they knew HBO. I imagined people thinking, “What was that?” In the end I was relieved and excited because it took first place.
I spent the next day hanging out at the Carlton Hotel. I met people from all over the world, representing different agencies and different accounts. A lot of them had seen It’s Not Porn
so it was exciting. I also met Alyson Griffith, Accomplice Media
’s rep in the Southwest, who I’d only spoken with before, as well John Doe, a very funny directing team from Spain who are represented by Accomplice in the U.S.
Naturally, I went to a lot of parties, all of which went on until four or five in the morning. The parties sponsored by Shots and South Africa were really nice. At the same time, I was in the middle of bidding a couple of jobs back in Los Angeles. When I got back to my hotel in the early morning, I had scripts to review with my executive producer, Mel Gragido. It was a little crazy.
I hadn’t expected to meet so many people, particularly so many high level people from agencies. I understand now why people make Cannes an annual event. There are a lot of people whom you work with by phone or by email, but never get to see. At Cannes, you get to meet those people in person and hang out in the same place. It’s a different kind of connection. I can’t wait to go again next year.