Lynn film production students attend Cannes and Marché du Film in France

Last summer, Lynn University’s Eugene M. and Christine E. Lynn College of Communication and Design launched an exciting program for students pursuing a degree in film production. The program enabled eleven Fighting Knights to attend France’s prestigious International Cannes Film Festival. Students experienced the Marché du Film market for professionals, attended multiple film screenings, and sat in on various filmmaker Q&A sessions.

Lynn heads to Cannes

Accompanied by Lynn’s assistant professor in the College of Communication and Design and award-winning filmmaker Ben Orifici, the inaugural program provided students with exclusive access to the two-week festival, which was attended by A-list actors and Oscar-winning filmmakers alike. Lynn was one of only three U.S. universities that received full professional accreditation to attend Cannes and Marché du Film.

“The film market consists of various panels, seminars, mixers, and Q&A sessions featuring a significant number of filmmakers from around the globe. It’s the biggest film market in the world,” said Orifici, a French citizen.

Orifici says he was impressed by the proactive nature of his students to network and learn about the industry.

“There are so many films, panels and events to choose from every day. It’s a smorgasbord of offerings. You can’t realistically do everything, but they still tried!” said Orifici. “They were out early in the mornings to wait in line for premieres. Sometimes, they’d even camp out for six hours to try and make it in a standby line.”

As part of the program and experience, Orifici’s students researched a featured director in the competition and wrote a paper about them after seeing their film. Students also tried to meet the directors and filmmakers whenever possible.

“Our students did their research beforehand, so it was really gratifying for them to be part of the screenings and market,” said Orifici. “We’d meet up for meetings throughout the day and work on small, behind-the-scenes documentaries about the festival, which was another part of the curriculum. They wrote, shot and edited short films about their experience.”

Among the many impressive, world-renowned filmmakers at Cannes, students saw Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson. Students also studied marketing elements of film production—a key piece of the moviemaking experience.

“When people hear ‘Cannes Film Festival,’ they typically imagine red carpet events, A-list appearances, and screenings, but there’s a massive marketing component, too. Filmmaking is an art form, but it’s also a business,” said Orifici. “There are so many filmmakers trying to make deals, sell their films and showcase private screenings. It’s both fascinating and overwhelming. The small town becomes the epicenter of the film world for two weeks.”

Ben Orifici takes a smiling selfie with a group of Lynn film production students.
Orifici with a few of the Lynn film production students.

Orifici’s students would disperse themselves throughout the festival, breaking out into groups before regrouping with him to discuss different aspects of what they saw and learned, including the nuts and bolts of producing, marketing and distributing a film.

“There are a lot of mixers, which can be intimidating, but my students were great at networking and made contacts that are already serving them well,” said Orifici. According to the professor, there was a lack of filmmaking students at the festival, making Cannes even more accessible and exciting for presenting filmmakers to speak with Lynn’s eager, young creatives.

Until next time

Upon their return from France, Orifici’s students presented their short documentaries and papers analyzing the festival’s various directors and feature films.

For Lynn filmmaking student Ashantee Augustine—who is a twin and the youngest of ten siblings in a tight-knit South Florida family—attending Cannes was an invaluable educational and networking experience. The event also marked her first flight, as well as her first trip outside of the United States.

Ben Orifici and Lynn students in the streets of France.
Ashantee Augustine, right, in the streets of France with the Lynn film production team.

“Before my experience at Cannes, I thought of myself as shy and bad at networking,” said Augustine. “I’ve gained confidence, and it’s changed the way I see and present myself as a filmmaker.”

Cannes and Marché du Film helped Augustine realize she wants to work as an independent filmmaker compared to working with major studios.

“My students had the opportunity to learn the backstory of how directors and cinematographers create and market their films, while educating each other on the various themes and motifs used in each film,” said Orifici. “It was a truly immersive, co-learning experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.”

Prior to his role at Lynn, Orifici taught at The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan before moving from Brooklyn to South Florida amid the pandemic. One of his feature films, An Extraordinary Affair, recently premiered at the Long Island Film Festival and won six awards, including “Best Feature,” “Best Director,” and “Best Cinematography.”

“Lynn does a great job of supporting the arts. Everyone here is friendly and congenial,” said Orifici. “It’s a great environment for myself and these students.”

See more about Lynn’s film production program.

Source: Lynn film production students attend Cannes and Marché du Film in France