Mark Damon is in Cannes this year with several films from his shingle Foresight Unlimited. The executive has been in the industry for nearly 50 years, and he helped pioneer the business of overseas sales/production via such companies as Producers Sales Organization. With deadpan humor, he talks about his work in Cannes.
My favorite night in Cannes is my last night there, when I know I’m leaving the next day. So we alternate between two favorite restaurants: L’Armenien, which is on the Croisette but a little farther down; and then just out of town, Le Bistrot du Mougins.
The food is incredible. At L’Armenien, they keep bringing out plates of appetizers and main courses; I think there must be about 25 plates of food. At Le Bistrot, I always order boeuf bourguignon; my wife changes her selection. Both are run by husband-and-wife teams. It’s nice to see them every year. And the whole mood of the restaurants is very social because they’ve been there for many years and the same customers keep going back.
How many years at Cannes?
This will be my 40th consecutive year. I went a few times before that, as an actor.
How many meetings?
We have four sales people there. I would say among us all, about 70 meetings a day. We go from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; it’s about 400 meetings during the festival for the entire staff.
Projects this year?
We have four big ones. “Inversion,” a $130 million science-fiction adventure directed by Scott Waugh, is currently being cast. Then there’s “Spinning Gold,” starring Justin Timberlake. It’s the story of a music entrepreneur Neil Bogart, who virtually invented disco. We have “One Night Stan,” directed by Bobby Farrelly, which was announced in Berlin. And there is a fourth one, which we will announce soon.
Do you go to parties?
Unfortunately, yes. I generally average one or two a night, for six nights. Fun? You’ve got to be kidding. It’s all business. We have about 17 hours of work a day; the first five days are most intense.
How many films do you see each year?
An average of zero to one, because I go to Cannes to market and sell our pictures, not to see films. My wife does; I make her go to keep her from shopping.