So, here I am, sitting in bed, trying to find some way to write down how much my trip to Cannes, France meant to me. This might be tough, but I’m up for the challenge.

Aight, so boom.

In December, my incredibly supportive brother and I were at Starbucks trying to find some summer internship opportunities when bam. He came across an internship program called Creative Minds that will send individuals to film festivals around the world and pair them up with a company work at the festival. Automatically, my main goal for the summer was centered around the idea of going to one of the biggest film festivals in the world. It seemed a little daunting, but the fact that my brother had so much faith in my ability, the idea became a little less frightening and far off.

So I applied.

I made a sixty second video explaining why I wanted to go and what I hoped to get out of the program. A couple months later, during spring break, I heard back that I was accepted into the program.

So fast forward to me finishing up my first year of college and past the eight hour plane ride. Once we landed in Nice, I knew that I was going to love my two weeks there.

Once everyone was settled in, the group took a tour of the area where all of the festivals activities would be going on, and then, everyone was pretty much on their own! Since I was accepted into the internship program, Creative Minds paired me with a sales and acquisitions company called 13 Films. They were an absolutely amazing company to intern with. The environment was relaxed but they knew how to get stuff done. They handled meetings with international distributors and went into negotiations with different people throughout the duration of the festival.

I was able to learn more about how films are distributed, how distributors pick the types of movies they want in their region, and how the company chooses films to distribute. Overall, my internship experience with this company was nothing short of absolutely amazing.

So, aside from my internship, I had a lot of time to go to screenings for movies that were on the market and had the opportunity to go to a premiere screening. Creative Minds gave each person on the program a badge that gives complete access to pretty much everything during the festival, except screenings that needed invitations and producer workshops. I was able to view short films in an area called the Short Film Corner and they also had a section for virtual reality.

Over the duration of my stay in Cannes I saw about five movies total. I was able to get a personal and seemingly intimate look at the independent film side of the industry and it truly motivated me for the future. I found that independent films seem to care more about the details and how these details weave into the overall story in a sometimes-subtle manner, rather than just flat out explain every second and how it adds to the plot. With the movies I saw, there were so many slow build ups to conclusions that made sense and conclusions that didn’t make sense. There were build ups to conclusions that left the audience more unsettled and unsatisfied that satisfied but I loved that. The audience is forced to make his or her own conclusions and therefore I found each film I watched successful. Audience engagement, good or bad, is still audience engagement and at the end of the day, I found that everyone just wanted their film to be talked about.

The connections I made in a place as remarkable and beautiful as Cannes will always mean so much to me. Being in the same place as people like Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, and Childish Gambino was incredibly surreal, but it definitely serves as motivation for the future. I realized for the first time that I am such an incredibly small fish in a huge pond, but I am excited to one day make my mark in the industry.