Film festivals provide new outlooks

Senior Melissa Hurley, right, interned at the Cannes Film Festival this past summer, where she met celebrities and worked with

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to walk down the red carpet, brushing elbows with some of Hollywood's top stars, while thousands of paparazzi cameras flash around you? Well, SOC senior Melissa Hurley doesn't have to wonder; she was there.

The Kodak-American Pavilion Intern Program selected Hurley as one of 100 students from schools across the country to participate in at the Cannes Film Festival in France this past summer. For Hurley, an aspiring film producer, writer and director, the experience proved invaluable. Selected students interned with a festival organization six hours a day and attended seminars, workshops and a number of discussions on the film business.

Hurley interned for the Hollywood Reporter, giving her access to some of the festivals biggest name directors, producers and, of course, movie stars. Her duties included spending three weeks meeting and greeting at the Hollywood Reporter's headquarters in the Majestic Hotel.

"Anybody who's anybody stays at the Majestic. The directors would come down to the information desk to promote their movies, hand out media packets, or even to find out which movies had the top ratings for the day. I basically served as a people person," said Hurley.

Through the course of her stay she met everyone from Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz to Ewan McGregor and "Good Will Hunting" director Gus Van Sant. Van Sant was, in fact, one of her favorite personalities there.

"He was very down to earth and willing to sit down and give me advice," Hurley said, who experienced a stroll down the red carpet when she attended the premiere of Van Sant's film "Elephant" in the Palais Theatre.

"My friend and I were walking up the red carpet when a photographer yelled for us to come over and began taking pictures of us. He must have thought we were someone famous," Hurley said. "The best part was the entranceway to the theatre that showcased a huge, gorgeous staircase. It was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience."

Hurley sat in front of Van Sant and his crew during the premiere and attended an after-party at the Majestic with the rest of the cast.

Yet despite all of that glamour, Hurley said the best part of the internship was learning about her future profession.

"I realized what a competitive business it is. You really have to be motivated, be confident, and have a lot of talent because it is one of the hardest businesses to break into."

The "cut-throat" aspect of the film industry doesn't intimidate Melissa, however. She said that she came into the program with the mind-set not to get discouraged.

"I knew I only had three weeks. I knew it was competitive ... my goal going into the program was to make the most contacts I could and learn as much as possible," said Hurley. "I was ready to take the challenge on"

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