Media X student immersed in Cannes Film Festival for dream internship
Pacific Media X student HT Fleming’s recent internship was different than your average 9 to 5 job. His commute? A 40-minute stroll down the beach on the French Riviera. His office? The prestigious, star-studded Cannes Film Festival, one of the largest gatherings of film industry professionals in the world.
“I just felt in my element,” Fleming said. “I’d leave our hotel at 8 a.m., grab a croissant and walk down for work. We were literally living and working on the beach in the Mediterranean. It was like nothing I had seen before.”
Fleming and six other Media X students spent two weeks interning at the festival, where they got an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at how the film industry operates. Between their work duties, they attended film premieres, networked with industry professionals and even posed for paparazzi on the red carpet.
“The Cannes Film Festival and the Cannes Film Market combined are probably the most well recognized and prestigious festival and market in the world,” said K Pontuti, director of the Media X program and chair for the Department of Art, Media, Performance and Design. “The festival is at the forefront of promoting films, and the market itself is where films get bought, sold and financed. It’s a huge meeting point for people all over the world that come to do business.”
The students participated in an internship program provided through the American Pavilion, which serves as a hospitality center for American film professionals attending Cannes. Pacific covered the cost of the program, including housing and festival accreditation fees, and helped students pay for their flights to France. The interns participated in a wide variety of tasks, including filming festival events, assisting guests at the pavilion, helping coordinate festival programming, and working in the kitchen as culinary interns.
Fleming worked morning shifts at the American Pavilion as a bartender. He says the gig allowed him to network with a variety of people in the film industry.
“I was fortunate to work at events for big name sponsors like Variety Magazine and the Golden Globes,” he said. “I made a few connections through those events. I’m setting up a meeting with an international production company soon and I only met them because I was bartending at an event.”
Beyond online communication with influential industry professionals, Pontuti stressed that some of the most important networking students did at the festival was with their peers: fellow students and recent graduates in the early stages of their careers.
“When we think about networking, we’re often thinking of networking up,” Pontuti said. “But throughout their time in Cannes, the students realized that networking wasn’t necessarily about directly pitching or sitting down for a meeting but finding the people that you might want to work with and connect with.”
For Fleming, who dreams of working as a screenwriter and creating his own production studio, meeting fellow film students at Cannes provided an invaluable head start in building his network of future collaborators.
“It gave me an idea of the people that I’m going to need around in order to be successful,” Fleming said. “I met someone who I’m hoping will work with me as a publicist, and I met people who like doing things like set design—different aspects of the film industry that I did not understand or even know existed before going to Cannes.”
The Hollywood glitz and glamour was also a highlight. One of Fleming’s favorite Cannes moments was meeting Academy Award-winning actor and Grammy Award-winning musician Jamie Foxx.
“I was like, ‘Hi, I just wanted to say that Slow Jamz was my favorite song in high school.’ And he was like, ‘Cool.’ And he walked away,” Fleming said.
Fleming recommends other students take advantage of the opportunity to attend Cannes or other film festival trips sponsored by the university. Previously, Media X students attended the Sundance Film Festival, which was held virtually due to COVID-19, as well as regional festivals throughout California.
“The cohort building and bonding of meeting everyone that came there for different reasons was amazing,” Fleming said. “Everyone that I’ve spoken to and met through Cannes, we already have plans to try and meet up at some film festivals during the year, and then hopefully back at Cannes down the line.”