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By Hammad Zaidi | May 19, 2013

Hey filmmakers. Welcome to the second Cannes 2013 Special Report! Today’s article, “Wham, Bam, Thank You Scam” exposes one of the most egregious tactics practiced here at Cannes; preying on college students by charging them a silly amount of money to be an intern. Now, before I get going, let me just say that I am not talking about the American Pavilion Internship Program. In fact, if you are a college student looking for an internship at Cannes, The American Pavilion Program,, is clearly the best one. They are very well run, and they offer quite an enriching experience for the students who participate in the program.

However, I’m not talking about AMPAV.  I’m talking about the low-life, scum of the earth “internship” programs that are ripping off otherwise broke students. One such program scams students for about $600,000 per year at Cannes! That’s right, these cinematic gangsters loot about 200 college students per year, to the tune of $2900 each, plus a $300 festival pass, plus airfare!  What’s more, these guys have some of the biggest talent agencies, studios and public relations firms in Hollywood sponsoring them, but I highly doubt those sponsors have any idea what scam they’re being looped into-all they know is that they’re getting free interns…

Now, I’ve been attending Cannes since 2003, and I can tell you that if you wanted to enjoy this festival on a budget – it can be done. With a little bit of planning, strategy, and time spent comparing prices, you can enjoy Cannes for about $3,500, including meals and airfare. Thus, charging students $3200, without airfare or food, is just like charging them about $5500. This, my friends, is criminal, and so today I’m doing my part in trying to help eradicate the “Wham, bam, thank you scam.”

So, here are some tactics to look out for when looking for an internship to Cannes, or any other major film festival.

Faking Production Companies To Get Accreditation
One way to know that you’re being scammed is if your internship provider asks you to make up a fake production company to get your accreditation at Cannes. You see; Cannes is a “closed festival,” meaning you have to be accredited to attend. This is because this festival is meant for film professionals to conduct business, not for students to learn the business. Now, I’m all about helping students. In fact, I’ve been an adjunct professor and/or lecturer and several universities since 1995, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop helping students. But, asking a student filmmaker to make up a fake company in an effort to slip it by the Cannes registration experts, so they can attend the festival, is not helping them. It actually puts the students in danger because once caught, the students will be banned from Cannes. The only thing worse than getting banned from the world’s biggest film festival, is getting banned from the world’s biggest film festival before your professional career even starts. Thus, student filmmakers, be warned!

Discouraging Students From Seeking Red Carpet Tickets
The single funniest (and most disgusting) complaint I’ve heard from students who are trapped in internship scam programs, is their supervisors are actually discouraging them from trying to get tickets to premiere “red carpet” screenings. Now, if you know anything about Cannes, you know that one “bucket-list” thing to do is to get all spiffed up in a tux or evening gown, and walk up the red carpet for a premiere screening of an feature film that’s in official competition. Experiencing it never gets old, even for someone like me, who has been doing it since 2003. However, sadly, the only reason a supervisor would encourage students not to attend the red carpet screening, is because the supervisors don’t want to students to compete with them for the tickets. As funny as that may seem, I find it to be really sad, and quite telling about how useless the “supervisors” are. This is because any person in a supervisory role should have more important things to do than tricking their students out of getting the most coveted ticket at the most substantial film festival in the world.

$2900 Buys Me What?
For the cool cost of $2,900 each, plus a $300 fee for the “fake accreditation,” plus airfare, plus food, these 200 students or so students get to share about 40 rooms. That’s right, these kids are shacking up five students to a room! Now, that would be fine if this program cost about $600-$750 each, but a $2,900 each, these students could be getting their own rooms! Again, it irks me when the unethical sharks of this industry prey of the wide-eyed guppies. Thus, here’s to the sea of guppies biting back!

Okay, filmmakers. This concludes my second Cannes 2013 Special Report. Please look out for one or two more of these, before our big “Three Year Birthday Party” edition this upcoming Tuesday. I thank you for lending me your eyes, and I’ll talk to you soon! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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