Pull the Trigger executive producer Max Brady tells her story of reluctantly learning to love and value Cannes Lions
Ireland hasn’t traditionally attended Cannes, particularly production. Many people don’t see the relevance. Just another awards festival… But this one is a complete ‘jolly’ on the beach, in the South of France.
I have to admit to being one of those people once, but then things changed.
January 2014: Set up Pull The Trigger, merging two other companies.
June: Decide to go to Cannes, for the first time in 15 years.
(Note to newbies - it was a very different festival back then!)
Register for the festival and somehow end up being asked to sit on the jury of CPF-E Young Director Awards.
(Agree to do this, because… well why not!)
Sunday of the festival: Arrive, unpack, sweat.
Go to the local convenience shop, stock up on food, wine and water.
(Did not realise how steep the hill was for walking back.)
Monday: register for the festival.
(Burn in the searing, not Irish sun, without a hat, while I queue up to get my pass.)
Late for the jury session start. Kristyna from the APA, desperately trying to find me.
Go home, lonely, to my apartment after judging completes. Why did I come here?
Tuesday: Attend some workshops. Sweat, melt, feel a bit ‘lost’.
Why did I come here?
Wednesday: Still wondering what the hell I was doing there. Melting in the heat. And remarkably, now that I know how Lions works, I am still sober.
Attend the World Producers Summit, and start to think that maybe I’ve walked into a parallel universe.
Wednesday night: I find my Cannes stride. Taken under the wing of Kristyna, of the APA, I ended up with a group of amazing producers from around Europe, thanks to CPF-E. Suddenly it all started to click.
Thursday: Meet up with Harry Tracosas from Global Production Network, and convince him that Pull the Trigger should be the Ireland partner.
(There wasn’t an Ireland partner before then.)
Decide that I don’t want to go home from Cannes early after-all, and get into the swing of it.
Friday: Disappointed that it’s all over and I have to go home.
Since that first year, it is my regular annual business trip. Cannes is just one big giant networking, Rose drinking, competition.
I’ve perspired my way through numerous World Producers Summits. Stood on sand for hours on end in the pursuit of the love of the industry, chasing down new business, and paid for it through old lady ‘cankles’.
(I now bring along my supply of diuretics and barter them off for favours from other producery type people.)
I’ve found my little studio apartment (no hill to climb!) behind the Carlton that I fly into for a quick spritz and change. I rebook every year as I walk out the door.
But most importantly, I’ve found community.
In our business, it is so important to find community.
Those ‘normal’ people who don’t work in advertising just don’t get what we do. To discover kin who completely understand that you are not being rude when you take out your phone to start a long and convoluted response email; who get it when you have to run off to do a budget; who accept that you are going to rant and rave about uneducated client requests, talking you off the edge by telling you their own stories: sounds hellish, but it brings normality to our little bubble.
Community is important. It’s important to connect with others around this globe in a fast changing, increasingly connected, industry.
For me, Cannes hasn’t just put our company on the global map, but Ireland.
Our partnership with GPN means we are now a serious location contender. Producers and directors come from all over the world to film in Ireland, for our castles, lakes, beaches, mountains, cities, and excellent crews.
We at Pull The Trigger now have a true global reach, with a client database of people who try to find any tenuous reason to come back and film with us.
So for me, Cannes has been a success story. It started out as “well, why not?” and has grown into “why wouldn’t I?”
But more important than all of the business that is generated, all of the schmoozing and the endless, endless plastic glasses of rosé. I found community. I found lifelong friends. I found people I see once a year, but can call anytime. I found support, solidarity, and a rich vein of experience, skills and ingenuity that I can tap into, and contribute to, any time.
Cannes Lions is still ‘just’ another awards festival, but it also a place to discover new people, new trends, new ways of working, to mine for new business, to see the very best of creative advertising from around the world and be inspired to work harder, smarter, more creatively.
I found a tribe.
Max Brady is executive producer at Pull the Trigger.