The champagne is still flowing in the beachfront lounges at Cannes, but this year’s festival is also shot through with a real sense of anxiety, thanks to the end of hedge-fund easy money, the rise of 3-D, the looming threat of piracy, and the rapid shift toward digital distribution. Mix said champagne with nervous producers whose jobs are on the line, and you hear some frank assessments about the state of the business that are typically watered down in the festival’s official “whither film?” panels.
At a bar near the Croisette, we bumped into one hard-drinking, red-faced British producer who had his own unique read of Robin Hood. Griping about filmmakers who demand to shoot on 35mm instead of embracing digital cameras — and theater owners who insist on using expensive physical prints of films, instead of embracing digital distribution — the producer (who asked not to be named) compared the traditionalists to Robin Hood’s arrow makers, about to be made obsolete by “guys selling muskets.”
“Well, half of the people out here are all just crying, saying: Please, don’t use the muskets—arrows have worked for such a long time!” he ranted. “What about all the men who pluck the feathers? Think of all the jobs lost: those poor women who make the bows? The men who make the quivers?”
This producer’s verdict? Change is inevitable: “In the end,” he said, downing another vodka, “everybody’s gonna get blown away by the fuckers with the muskets.”