Dapper, drole, vigorous, Cannes Cinefondation president Gilles Jacob, now 84, kicked off Friday’s Cinefondation awards ceremony greeting festival president Pierre Lescure.
Jacob joked his life was now far easier. “As the former president of the Cannes Festival and president of Cannes Cinefondation, my situation was very difficult: I used to have to say, good day Cinefondation president, good day festival president, and I was talking to myself.”
Ex catedra, he delivered two-to-three tips to the audience, mostly made up of film school students. They are worth noting, the fruit of a long experience, and Jacob’s belief in and admiration for grand masters and auteur filmmaking:
1.“First of all, see as many films you can, good, not that good, it’s not that big a deal. Look attentively at how they’re made. François Truffaut, when he had a problem on set, when you don’t have time to think things through, would wonder how Hitchcock would have solved the problem, and it helped him.
2. Read, read whatever comes to hand on cinema: Great directors’ autobiographies, essays on film art, interview with masters, analyses, everything.
3. Choose very carefully your team: co-screenwriters, d.p.’s, etc.; 90% of work with actors is casting, the choice of the ideal actor for the role.
4. Keep the same editor if you are on the same wavelength with him, for several movies, maybe your whole career. [Cinefondation jury member] Joana Hadjithomas, who’s here, works that way and is very comfortable with that. Only the editor will resist you. Only the editor will say that you have to cut an image you fell in love with, an image that slows the movie down, distracts. He will be at the service of the film, not in your service. This profitable discussion will allow you to progress. You always need a dialogue. This can also be with the producer if he’s cultured – they exist – if money problems – they exist –have not put a gun to his head, and if he loves your work.
5. Last, and most important, after you have seen everything, understood, leant everything, forget everything, and be yourself.
This way you will one day be in competition, that’s the grace I wish you. Cheer up, good luck, and see you soon in Cannes.”