Continuing the Prime Writers’ tour of our favourite locations, Jon Teckman gives us a taste of the glamour of Cannes Film Festival as featured in his debut, Ordinary Joe.
“The next morning I woke up early and headed back down to the sea front. I had several meetings set up – meetings which could just as easily have taken place in London but which were so much more pleasant here on the Riviera. Most of the meetings during the Festival took place at the hotels on a short stretch of one side of La Croisette or at the hotels’ extensions onto the beaches on the other side. Cannes is, in effect, just an enormous office block turned on its side and opened up to the elements.”
Film festivals are ten a penny. Many towns and cities have them. If you were so inclined – and your wallet and liver could withstand the pressure – you could easily spend every week of the year traipsing around one film festival or another, watching movies and hoping to catch a glimpse of an A-lister or two. But only one film festival really counts. Nowhere on earth is as clearly defined by its film festival as the small French seaside town of Cannes, which for the middle two weeks of May each year welcomes the entire world of film to its boulevards and bars.
I was lucky enough to go to Cannes several times during the late nineties and early noughties – a dream come true for someone with a deep love of film. Unfortunately, working for, first, the Government and then the cash-strapped British Film Institute, I was never able to stay in any of the top hotels but I did manage to blag my way into some great parties, from exclusive dinners on luxury yachts moored in the picturesque Old Town to huge, thumping raves in converted warehouses out towards Cap d’Antibes.
In writing my debut novel Ordinary Joe, I used my memories of these visits to Cannes to create scenes which, I hope, capture the atmosphere of what it feels like to work in the film industry, surrounded by glitz and glamour but also trying to get a job done. My hapless “hero” Joe West is never fully able to relax and enjoy his surroundings – he leaves that to everyone else – but, being there in this sacred place, part of the premiere Film Festival du monde, does, for a short time at least make him feel like a “player”. And just a little less Ordinary.