05/21/2012 01:08 EDT | Updated 07/21/2012 05:12 EDT

Slummin' it at the Cannes Film Festival: How to Crash a Yacht Party

2012-05-17-cannesDanielle.jpg It was Friday night in Cannes and my friends and I were determined to get into a yacht party. We strolled the pier of millions-of-dollar yachts after millions-of-dollar yachts and found four with exclusive looking parties. The first one, flashing blue and purple lights and blasting club beats, was swarmed with paparazzi taking photos of Amanda Seyfried leaving.

On Friday night, I met four wonderful Brits, screenwriters, directors and production managers, also staying at the campground. They have a couple of films in the Short Corner (a marketplace for short films where you pick from a catalogue of about 2,000 films from around the world and view them in private screening booths). After dinner at "Le Petit Martinez," a popular Festival hangout, we were determined to get into a yacht party. We strolled the pier of millions of dollar yachts after millions of dollar yachts and found four with exclusive looking parties.

The yachts by day.

The first one, flashing blue and purple lights and blasting club beats, was swarmed with paparazzi taking photos of Amanda Seyfried leaving. Here, there was a mini red carpet leading from the yacht bridge to a port-a-potty on the pier. Sadly, we were not on their guest list. The next one, playing smooth reggae, was located near the end of the pier. We chatted a bit with the owner as he got off the yacht and into his custom-designed speedboat. He was very friendly and explained he was going to pick up more guests, but did not take pity on our party-less souls.

Lining up at one of the "exclusive" port-a-potties.

So onward we went to discover a smaller yacht serving free hot dogs and champagne to passersby. Picking up on the generous vibe, we stuck around and chatted up one of the captains taking a hot dog break. A dockside dance party ensued followed by him chanting, "Dance on the boat. Dance on the boat." With his help, we were led past the bodyguards and on to the boat. Here we discovered walls of candy and popcorn -- apparently a movie concessions company owned the boat. The music was terrible and the dance floor crowded and uneven, but the champagne and candy were free. We also discovered a wood-paneled dining room filled with, again, candy and champagne, but absolutely free of people. We sat down and enjoyed the fruits of our party-scrounging labours.

After we had enough gummy strawberries, we trekked to the beach where they screen older films at night. Tonight, Jackie Chan lit up the sand. Beside the beach theatre, bars and dance clubs stretch along the waterfront for about a kilometre. Again, the parties thrown at these beachside establishments are by invitation only; Cannes seems to have a bit of an exclusivity complex. But we decided we would like to go.

We took off our shoes and casually strolled around the barrier between the beach theatre and the strip of clubs, and then Gemma (one of the Brits) and I walked straight from the ocean into the patio lounge of the first club. The security guard didn't bat an eye. We continued inside, told the drink ticket girl "my boyfriend" had lost our tickets and she happily gave us "new ones." The other Brits, Lucy, Chris and Michael, had stayed on the beach, so we decided to bring our champagne cocktails down to them for sharing and dancing in the sand. As the night wore on, Gemma and I continued to ferry drinks back and forth and the dancing moved more into the surf.

Although the club was glamorous and the people were beautiful, I much preferred being out in the sand with my new campground mates. We had a lot more room to dance, and could hear each other as we swapped stories about future and past projects, and possible future collaborations!

The best pre-Cannes advice I was given about the dreaded word "networking" was not to worry about, "What can this person do for me," but rather, just to have a good time and get to know people whom I believe in. After our party-crashing adventures, the Brits and I spent more of the weekend together having meals, watching each other's work at the Short Film Corner and getting to know each other. Hanging out with them proves the advice right. I would love to work with all of them not because they have achieved x and y and can give me z, but because I think they are fantastic people to spend time with, and have a lot of passion and talent for what they do. I look forward to spending more time with them, and with other filmmakers I have randomly met this weekend--at the Quebec Pavilion, film screenings, on the bus... What a wonderful job to have: to get to know people.

Update on my low-class status: sitting on the carpet, in the basement of the Palais des Festivals in order to get internet because it wasn't working at the campground. On my way up!

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