Back Home from Cannes: Filmmaker Allison White Discusses Her Recent Big Contest Win

"“I got the chance to really connect with a lot of producers from around the world and Canada and have just nice, inspiring talks about potentially working together in the years to come."

Capitalizing on the momentum arising from Christian Sparkes’ award-winning Cast No Shadow (2014), producer Allison White is home in St. John’s from an all-expenses-paid-trip worth over $6000 to the 2016 Festival du Cannes/ Marché du Film. White pulled of this latest feat by winning a contest sponsored by Film Market Access (FMA) in partnership with First Weekend Club (FWC).

“I was a little giddy,” says White about the win. “I mean, as a producer you really need to attend the market at Cannes. It’s the biggest in the world. So I was thrilled to be going and honoured that I was selected.”

The contest was created to award one emerging Canadian producer the opportunity to attend the Marché du Film with a contingent of producers already participating in the FMA Networking Program.

“For the films that I’m putting together for 2017, I basically wanted to meet any potential international sales agents, distributors, and other potential partners,” says White. “But Cannes is a market where a lot of those people are just trying to sell their current slate, so you have to be careful about how you go about it. You want to make sure you’re catching their attention but not wasting their selling time. So you do a lot of those meetings very casually at networking cocktails and roundtables.”

White also took part in the competitive Producers Network, an event facilitated by the Marché du Film that opens opportunities to meet potential partners to move White’s current slate of projects forward. Those include Sparkes’ thriller Hammer and White’s comedic drama Poor Maggie – her first feature as writer/director – both currently in development under their Away Films banner.

“The way the Producer’s Network works is you get to sit at roundtables – if you arrive early enough to snag one – with very prestigious and well-connected people,” explains White. “So you get to have a really informative and hopefully transparent conversation with people you wouldn’t normally get access to, but you also connect with the other producers from around the world that are sitting with you at the table.”

Despite her jet lag, White was brimming with enthusiasm about the myriad of conversations she had with some of the film industry’s top professionals.

“I got the chance to really connect with a lot of producers from around the world and Canada and have just nice, inspiring talks about potentially working together in the years to come. I also met one of Ken Loach’s producers at a roundtable, and it’s just kind of amazing to have candid conversations with filmmakers at that level of expertise.”

White even managed to take a break from the whirlwind of roundtables and networking events to check out some films, including Andrea Arnold’s American Honey and Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake.

“Seeing movies, talking about the films you’re going to make, and meeting people and discussing how they are doing the same thing is just so inspiring and educational,” says White. “Doing this is crucial to keep making better and better films.”

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