Shooting on the red carpet

May 27, 2010

By Eric Gaillard, Vincent Kessler, Jean-Paul Pelissier, Yves Herman and Christian Hartmann

Each year in May dozens of stars and photographers converge on the French Riviera at Cannes to attend what is recognized as the biggest film festival in the world. Since 1985, a Reuters Pictures team has taken part in the extravaganza.

Jury member and Italian actress Asia Argento is pictured by photographers during a photocall at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2009.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

This year, a team of five photographers from France, Switzerland and Belgium set up their headquarters in the basement of the Festival Palace on the eve of the 63th Cannes Film Festival. With the help of Paris-based editorial technicians Gilles and Sylvain, the 15 square meters cell was quickly transformed into an editing center as well as a stock room for equipment and a changing room to put on tuxedos.

Reuters photographers Eric Gaillard (L) and Jean Paul Pelissier prepare before shooting the red carpet during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2009.   REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

As soon as the office was ready, photographers cruised the Croisette (a prominent boulevard in Cannes) looking for illustrative pictures for the upcoming Festival. Eric Gaillard, a festival veteran with 27 appearances to his credit, started to prepare his traditional and famous photo of the Jury President posing with a cinema clapper. This year, Tim Burton kindly accepted to pose for Eric on the balcony of his suite at the Carlton hotel. The picture was widely used by newspapers and internet sites.

Director Tim Burton, Jury President of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, holds a film clapper in Cannes May 11, 2010.   REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

A combination photo of Jury president's posing with a clapper.  REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Photocalls, news conferences, red carpet arrivals…. Each day is the same routine program in which we try to propose different picture ideas and find new angles. On some occasions this year one of us took up a position on a stepladder among the public and amateur snappers. It goes without saying that it wasn’t easy to be accepted at this spot as some of them get into position hours or even days before the start of the festival. On May 15, a picture of French actor Alain Delon and actress Claudia Cardinale taken from this uncomfortable position was used on the front page of the French Daily newspaper Le Figaro.

A combination of two pictures shows cast member Lambert Wilson kissing director Xavier Beauvois (L) and Sabrina Ouazani during a photocall for the film Des Hommes et des Dieux (Of Gods and Men) in competition at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 18, 2010.   REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Actress Fiona Gelin arrives on the red carpet for the screening of the film "Fair Game", in competition at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 20, 2010.   REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Director Mathieu Amalric (R) and cast members Dirty Martini (C) and Mimi Le Meaux (L) arrive on the red carpet for the screening of "Tournee" by director Mathieu Amalric at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2010.   REUTERS/Yves Herman

Director Woody Allen attends a news conference for the film "You will meet a tall dark stranger" during the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2010.    REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Remote cameras are also used trying to find different angles and unusual pictures. Minutes before the start of the red carpet arrivals, a camera and its 14 or 15mm fisheye lens is put into position. Two years ago as Jack Black and Angelina Jolie were joking on the red carpet one of these cameras took an unusual picture.

Photographers set up their cameras on the red carpet during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 14, 2009.   REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Voice actor Jack Black (C) leaps high as he stages a mock fight near Angelina Jolie during arrivals on the red carpet for the screening of the animated film "Kung Fu Panda" by directors Mark Osborne and John Stevenson at the 61st Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2008.       REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Twenty years ago, we shot on film, developed and printed at the Festival Palace. Some 20 pictures were transmitted on a big day. Today, with digital cameras and top technology some 150 to 200 pictures are sent each day to our clients. The latest development is the use of wireless transmitters on cameras combined with personal wi-fi routers using 3G technology, not bigger than a packet of cigarettes. This system allows photographers stuck on the red carpet, away from the Festival Palace or even away from Cannes to send pictures to be edited and sent to clients by the photographer in charge of the editing process at that time.

While some red carpet arrivals attract hundreds of photographers, other less glamorous ones such as a Thai film at 10pm will attract only the most dedicated. A Reuters team is always among them. Now, we must begin to get our tuxedos ready for next year.

Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul attends a photocall after winning the Palme d'Or award for the film Lung Boonmee Raluek Chat (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives) during the award ceremony of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival May 23, 2010.  REUTERS/Vincent Kessler


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Thanks for the insight and congrats for your work!

Posted by Photoluc | Report as abusive

very interesting photo’s….I like it.

Posted by choirhuda | Report as abusive

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Love the post. BTW, if anyone can help me, I’m shooting my first red carpet this week and can use any tips. thanks!

Posted by SteveS | Report as abusive