Recently, Paul asked me an interesting question, one that I believe I may have come across the answer over my time at Cannes. He asked, “Can a successful film be made without passion?” My response is not as simple as yes or no.
A lot of people in this industry are in it only for the money, and they will do whatever it takes to ensure the next big paycheck comes. As much as I’d like to believe that the director of a film wouldn’t sacrifice the artistic and creative elements of their work, they still report to the studio, which expects it to earn money. I have heard many accounts of filmmakers, even large Hollywood names, who have had to sacrifice their vision for the sake of the studio. If you define successful as making a profit, then yes I believe that it’s completely possible for a filmmaker to create a ticket selling film without any passion for its subject. However, if you define successful as being proud of the work you accomplished, then I believe passion is definitely necessary. Creating a film is a long process, one that often takes many years to go from the initial idea to the final edited piece. It involves a tremendous amount of time, effort and people, and the cast and crew must believe in the director and the director’s vision if they wish to make a successful film. If the director doesn’t have passion for his subject, it’s hard to convince hundreds of people to follow you for an extended period of time. Along with passion, the director must appreciate the time and effort of those willing to work for them. When an entire cast and crew can believe in the piece, the work comes together and the final product is successful film.
One of my biggest frustrations at Cannes was that I met a lot of people whose visions I didn’t respect. Not simply because I didn’t believe in their ideas or appreciate their effort, but because of the way they treated me. It would have been a lot easier for me to enjoy my internship experience if I was working with people who appreciated my time and effort to help them achieve their goals. Yet, there were many who seemed without passion for their films, ideas and goals and were focused instead on the money. To me, it seemed that they were more concerned with successful in terms of profit, instead of successful in terms of pride. This thinking made it difficult me to find the passion in their work and align myself with it.
Overall my experience at Cannes was an enjoyable one. I learned a lot about the festival and if I ever want to return I definitely plan to come with a film of my own. Cannes is primarily a distribution festival, where people are looking to sell films and companies are looking to buy. Therefore, it makes the most sense to come with a film that hopefully you can get distributed. I was able to watch a lot of films that challenged the standards of filmmaking that I was used to. I was able to talk with many people who shared with me their own visions and ideas, hopes and goals. The experience has definitely taught me to appreciate everyone, especially if they are helping me to achieve my vision. If I am able to invoke my passion in others, they will be more willing to put forth their best effort to help me and when a bunch of creative minds come together, the results can only be superior.