Julian Schreiber, executive creative director at Special Group is representing Australia on the Cannes Film Lions jury. Schreiber, along with most of the other Australian and NZ jurors, writes exclusively for CB.
One thing I didn’t know about film judging is that it can make you feel incredibly sea sick. But at least that’s what I know happens now when you strap a very jetlagged Aussie, fuelled on a mix of different flavoured Nespresso coffee shots and a chocolate croissant into a VR headset, early on a Sunday morning. I just remember looking down, not seeing my feet, then walking into a nearby table. Which in front of your fellow jury members that you’ve just met, isn’t a great first impression.
But unsurprisingly, there’s many many things that I didn’t know about the film judging. Philip Thomas, the Festival CEO began our day with an incredibly inspiring history lesson about the whole festival, reminding us that we were the first category ever and 66th Cannes Film Lion jury. He showed us the festival’s first Grand Prix (it was a B/W animation) and explained what an important part we play in the legacy and future of the lions. I didn’t know that the locals who have lived here forever still refer to it as the ‘Advertising Film Festival’. It even still says that in French on all the deliveries to the event. And I certainly didn’t know that it took until the 1990s for them to even introduce a second category beyond film – Print. I think the point he was making is we’re the ‘OG’ jury so bloody make sure you do your job well. Message heard. Then Margaret Johnson (CCO, Goodby Silverstein & Partners) our Jury President asked us to judge well with our hearts and our minds, to go beyond the familiar and recognise that we’re not just setting the standard of work for our peers, but for all our clients as well. Daunting but inspiring words indeed. But, what I do know is we’ll give it our best. I do know I’m surrounded by incredibly impressive jury members from the UK, USA, Brazil, Spain, Japan, France and Germany. And I know we all want the same thing – for the best to rise to the top and be celebrated.
So after bumping into furniture blindly in the VR section, we very quickly got into the meat and potatoes of beginning to finalise the shortlist. We all did a mountain of pre-judging before we got here with an extended jury that wasn’t even in the room now – so a huge amount of work had already been culled before we even arrived. Which I see as both a blessing (less time in a small dark room) and a curse (did work I really like, miss the boat before we’ve even begun?). But weighing it up, I think it maybe a necessary evil of so many entries (over 2500) and all the new types of film that have now been entered. To even meet the show’s very live time line, they’ve had to add an extra day of film judging for the first time – so that tells you something right there. The spread of work is amazing, and we’re not nearly close to the discussion phase of judging. We’re just pressing numbers into keypads – but we’re all chewing at the bit to get there.
Write soon, J