Cannes – Meet the Funds and Drones

The Producer’s Network in Cannes this year has been dynamite. I’m meeting a ton of super-talented producers from all over the world, and the panelists and moderators every morning have been amazing. This afternoon, we had a session of “speed dating” called Meet the Funds — four sessions of 20 minutes each, where producers go to different tables to meet representatives from different film funds around the world (i.e., the Irish Film Commission), and you learn how to apply for and get the financing, subsidies and tax rebates that are becoming increasingly important in international film production.

For whatever reason, I feel like the lightbulb has gone off in terms of international co-productions over the last two days. I’ve produced international films and as an attorney, I have drafted, negotiated and closed a ton of international film transactions of every flavor. But I feel as if I suddenly have a better understanding of the schemes and mechanisms of combining equity financing with so-called “soft money” to get an international film financed and off the ground. Which is a good thing.

After the morning session, I had 90 minutes to kill, so I went to a marketing screening of a new film called Drones, the story of two US Air Force drone pilots in Nevada, and the conflict they go through when they have to kill a “HVT” (High Value Target) with a hellfire missile, when that HVT is surrounded by family members in Afghanistan. I don’t know how Drones will do when it comes out, but I found it to be a well done film, with superb acting.

As you can imagine, Drones raises the current hot-button topic about the ethics and morality of warfare via drones, and it made me think about the issue a bit. But truth be told, when the credits rolled, I felt no sense of revulsion or sadness about drone warfare as compared to any other type of conventional warfare. Of course, no one wants war, and if there is a war, no sane person to the left of Hitler or Boko Haram type psycho-child-stealing-lunacy wants to see innocent people killed. But radical terrorists are still doing their best to kill Americans, and the drone is one of our most successful weapons employed against them in this conflict. It’s as simple as that. Frankly, I see no moral difference between a drone strike initiated by two video game nerds in the Nevada desert, a salvo fired by a Navy destroyer off the coast into a city, or a B-52 carpet bombing an enemy city. How is “not” using drone technology in a war somehow superior to dropping napalm, launching cruise missiles, or running into battle with swords and pikes? It’s the same thing … an ugly and sad reality about the death, destruction and collateral damage that comes with all wars. Wars suck, and they need to be avoided at all cost, but it is what it is.

If drones are effective in killing terrorists, I would use more, not less, it’s a far better option that taking the so-called moral high ground and waiting until a sequel to 9-11 brings us back to reality. The counter argument is that drone warfare simply creates more terrorists and does nothing to win the hearts and minds of anyone, but that would be true about any successful weapon system. The answer is to fight hard, while praying and working for peace — not to tie your left hand behind your back so the fight is more palatable for observers and adversaries. Real time HD video of the battle scene changes nothing, IMO.

Anyway, Drones is a really good film, and maybe I just inadvertently proved that the filmmakers achieved what is presumably their mission — to get the discussion going. Then again, my view is probably not what they want to hear, because there is no dramatic movie in my version, the red button gets pushed.

Okay, that’s enough my my rambling. Thanks for checking in, have a nice day.








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