Anjali Drapcho ’25 is a Film Production major and spent the spring 2023 semester in Cannes studying French and interning at the 2023 Cannes Film Market.
From the end of January to the end of May 2023, I had the pleasure of studying abroad in Cannes, France for my Spring Semester. We arrived in late January, and were eagerly welcomed by Aude, who would be our AIFS Residential Advisor for the next four months. While vast majority of us were from Chapman, our group was quite diverse – with students coming from schools in Vermont, Kentucky, Texas and North Dakota. Outside of our daily French classes and seminars, we had lots of free time to explore Cannes and its neighboring cities as well as paid-for excursions by the AIFS board. Some highlights of these excursions included the boat tour along the Seine that we took in Paris, the tour of the Monte Carlo Casino and Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, the wine tasting in a chalet in Grasse, and kayaking in the Gorges of Verdon. When we were not doing AIFS excursions, we were encouraged to make the most of our long weekends to explore other European countries. Over my time in Cannes, I got to visit Berlin, Amsterdam, Leiden, and London.
Over the 76th Cannes Film Festival, I had the privilege of being one of four interns working under Arclight Films. Our responsibilities included greeting guests, scheduling meetings, attending and monitoring Arclight screenings, showing and supervising the showing of Arclight’s film promos, office administration, interacting with vendors, chaperoning celebrities (Gene Simmons and Renny Harlin), as well as setting up and tearing down the office.
Some of the highlights of this internship experience included interacting with all of the guests coming in for meetings because we got to network with them and learn about their own production companies. Additionally, we got to meet the director of one of Arclight’s completed films that is currently being sold for distribution in the US and various parts of Europe and Asia. We also had the privilege of assisting the pre-production pitch presentation for an upcoming film to be produced by Gene Simmons and to be directed by Renny Harlin. It was interesting to see first-hand what occurs during such pitches to help promote a film concept in the most effective and concise way to entice potential buyers to support the project financially.
In addition to many once in a lifetime work experiences, Arclight also invited us to multiple company dinners where our bosses would debrief with us about certain aspects of the day that had or had not worked. They always encouraged us to ask as many questions as possible and offered invaluable insight on how the sales and distribution part of the film industry works. Since Arclight has both a U.S. and an Australia-based office, we got to see how they operate in both the U.S. and the international film market.
Something that really stood out to me was how different the real-world experience of what it means to be a producer was from what I had learned in my Creative Producing class fall semester. Our supervisor would always remind us that while it is true that the hypothetical that we learn in school are a good foundation to begin with, it more often than not doesn’t manifest itself that way in the real world. He encouraged us not to discount what our professors had taught us, but to keep in mind that everything doesn’t exactly happen straight out of the textbook.
Since we had four interns, our bosses allowed us to coordinate schedules to ensure that we all had a chance to fully experience the Cannes Film Festival and market as well. We all got to attend both screenings and red-carpet events at the festival. I was able to see a total of nine films this festival season including Jeanne du Barry by Maïwenn, May December by Todd Haynes, and Monster by Hirokazu Kore-eda amongst other hidden gems.
I would not change anything about this internship experience because it truly thrust me into what the rat race is like for film vendors and distributors. As someone who wants to work in the film industry as a foley artist, it was enlightening to see first-hand what the producing side of the industry is truly like. It has even made me consider potentially working in the international film market. Upon returning to Orange, I not only have invaluable insight and experiences under my belt, but I have also been offered a job position working with Arclight’s LA office once I graduate from Chapman University.