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Cannes Profile: Meet Wendy Mitchell

May 26, 2013

Photograph by Amy Binns ©

I’m here in Cannes for the 66th Film Festival as a runner for Picturehouse Cinemas. During my time I’ll be meeting up with several industry heads to get an insight into the Film business and to hear what film they’re looking forward to most at the festival.

I spoke to Wendy Mitchell, editor of Screen International.

Amy Binns: How would you describe what you do?

Wendy Mitchell: I’m in charge of all editorial products across Screen International, from the website to the magazines, conferences, moderation panels etc. Here in Cannes we do nine print magazines. For the first couple of days I was editing them all myself, I would get all the copy from the reporters, try to figure out what goes where, what picture to use and those kinds of things. But then we had a news editor come out who has been with us for about 10 months. He trained up on how we do the dailies beforehand, because they are mental and we do them in such a specific way. But there is only so much you can prepare, I’ve kind of pushed him off the cliff. You can’t really just ease into it, you have to start doing it yourself. So from day two or three he’d do more and more of the pages himself, and then eventually, all of them. This means that I’m able to go out and have more meetings, see a few films and do some different kinds of interviews because I know that he is taking care of things here, of course I will proof read everything before it goes to press. Our days are busy throughout, we have a news meeting at 9am every morning, that’s when we decide what is going where in the paper for the next day. That changes drastically throughout the course of the day because news will be announced so we have to keep updating everything and holding stories. Sometimes we don’t go to press until 9 or 10pm, it’s busy.

AB: How did you get into the industry?

WM: I studied journalism at the university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I’m from.  I always new I wanted to live in New York so I got a job doing business reporting at Dow Jones who do The Wall Street Journal. Then I started writing a lot, sometimes about film, but mostly about the music industry. So then I got job at some music magazines like the Rolling Stone, from there I just segwayed over to film because I got a job at Indie Wire. I had known somebody that was a publisher there. I didn’t study film or anything, but he said ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re not an expert of film, you’re a good editor so come and do this’. Now I’ve been doing film stuff for 15 years and I can’t imagine doing anything else or even any other kind of journalism. I think if I was to ever move on from Screen one day I would go into the industry. It feels like I’ve found my niche.

AB: What advice would you give to someone trying to get their foot in the door?

WM: I think the thing we look at is somebody that is professional from the very first moment you talk to them. Yeah, we are laid back, but you want somebody who if they‘re sending you an email, everything is spelt correctly and it’s addressing you in a way that you can tell they’ve done their research. Whoever you are contacting, know what they do so you can say something relevant to them. We get a lot of blanket emails and you can tell. We get emails with typos in them and it is not really the best first impression. Be outgoing, confident and persistent, but don’t be obnoxious. Showing initiative is also good. Sometimes actually picking up the phone and calling, because we get so many emails a day so if somebody calls you or maybe even suggest a coffee it stands out a bit more. Even if you don’t end up getting a job, you could still just meet people in the industry. Networking is important.

AB: Which film are/were you looking forward to seeing most at the Festival and why?

WM: I think I’d have to say the Coen Brothers’, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. I like their work, but I wasn’t quite sure if this one would be dull. Having seen it, I was not disappointed. It had such life and spirit, the music was great and it really blew me away. It was nice to see something that people were laughing at. To be in a room with all of those critics and being able sense the love for it was great. It is such a good feeling to see an amazing film like that, with a group like that, and have everyone really getting into it. I loved the film and the atmosphere.

AB: What film do you predict to be the talk of Cannes this year?

WM: I don’t think I can say just one film. Broken record, but the Coen brother’s again. That will stay with people for a while and I think it has potential to go through to award season, it will have a long life and be remembered here in Cannes. But the festival is quite back heavy this year, so it is hard to tell. James Gray, THE IMMIGRANT is one I was looking forward to. Also the Alexander Payne, NEBRASKA could have longevity. Another one, which is slightly off the radar is THE LUNCHBOX, the Indian film by Ritesh Batra. I haven’t seen it yet but that is what I also love, the Coens’ are here, everyone wants to see their film, but for this small Indian film to be hailed as this potential hit is wonderful. People give discovery a chance here which is really encouraging!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Clare permalink
    May 26, 2013 5:42 pm

    nice picture of Wendy, and good answers she gave!

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