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Sightseers star and co-writer Steve Oram’s Cannes diary: part two

Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers premiered in Cannes in Director’s Fortnight star. Here,  co-writer Steve Oram shares his diary on the day the film premieres in Cannes…

The Sightseers crew get ready for their premiere

The Sightseers crew get ready for their premiere

Wednesday 23rd May

Day of premiere. Sunglasses at breakfast, then a swim in the hotel pool overlooking the sea. This is the life! Alice and I then took a wander. We tried to climb up to the castle but the road was too steep and we gave up. Brought to mind our sightseeing trip in the Lake District when researching the film. Alice doesn’t much like steep hills I’ve just remembered. I love em, or that’s the impression I like to give anyhow… Saw first film – Le Grande Soir. An anarchistic French comedy with the guy from Man Bites Dog in it. It was full of odd characters and great surprising gags and made me laugh a lot. About a punk with a dog and his brother who hang around a retail park. Right up my street. Not enough retail parks in movies, I say.

Pre-screening drinks with Claire Jones and Andy Starke on the roof terrace of the hotel. Rich Glover and Bobby Entwistle turned up. Everyone dressed up and smart. Alice looking beautiful and glamorous in designer dress and self-made caravan handbag and nothing like her character, Tina. Me looking like a serial killer in a suit.

Dinner with producers, Manuel, and assorted Sightseers lot outside a lovely restaurant… Waves of nerves when eating ravioli as the reality of it all hit me. But confident. The whole Cannes Sightseers campaign inspires confidence. Old hands and experienced heads and the mood is not tense at all. Then we’re off to the theatre for more drinks with the Director’s Fortnight organisers. Nerves kicking in. Then in to the venue. There’s no red carpet entrance, we’re ushered in quietly and unfussily and stand outside the auditorium. Then the door opens and then we can see the 800 or so people in there. Like a mass of humanity waiting for us. I have the nerves, like before a big gig. Then we’re called up on stage one by one and the audience goes mad. I have to help Alice up the steps cos she can’t walk in her shoes. She wouldn’t wear the sensible hiking trainers I suggested, for some reason. On stage Ben introduces the film. His only words are ‘bonjour. Enjoy.’ Which I thought was brilliant. The audience is excited and the the whole thing is euphoric…

The opening credits get laughs. I know it’s prob gonna be ok. Massive laughs in the opening scenes. And then throughout the film. A French audience laughing in some different places to the Brits. But basically no lulls and what a big face I’ve got. It’s an astonishingly big screen. At the end people clap and we stand up. The clapping doesn’t stop even though we sit down, so we stand up again. A spotlight comes out and people start moving towards us. It’s an incredibly strange experience. Brilliant. Being British I feel like everyone’s being a bit silly and making a bit of a fuss. We’re sat in the middle of the room so have to keep turning around awkwardly. It goes on until the entire credits have run. Eventually we go. It’s a feeling of shell-shock, like after actually having performed at a huge gig. Really similar. People congratulate. Photographs. Hugging. Hugging. Then we’re away in a cab.

Sightseers standing ovation

Sightseers standing ovation

Party at Le Cercle. Really beautiful place. Good to raise a glass with Dan MacRae from Studio Canal and also Film4′s Katherine Butler and Sam Lavender who have been the guiding lights of Sightseers since the early days. Quite a moment for us to share after all these years of work! A whirlwind of people all being nice, it’s euphoric and insane. Wine flows, the adrenalin still pumpin… Me, Alice, Claire, Andy walk back to the hotel at 4am through some windy side streets. Meet some random filmmakers on a corner and get chatting. Exchange of cards etc. Quite unlike my 4am walks back through Brixton where I live…


Thursday 24th May

Up very early to do press, at breakfast about 9 with Nira, Matthew, Celia, Dan et all from Big Talk. Everyone really excited from last night. A job well done. Press is coming out and is very positive. I’m in a dream still from last night, I probably look like someone on an E, which is embarrassing. Andy tells us we’re not needed for press til the afternoon, so Alice and I take a wander. She has to go off to get her makeup done so I head to a film – La Playa DC. It’s very good, subtle Columbian film….

Click here to go back to Steve’s Cannes diary part one

Sightseers star and co-writer Steve Oram’s Cannes diary: part one

Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers premiered in Cannes in Director’s Fortnight star. Here,  co-writer Steve Oram shares his diary on arriving in Cannes…

Alice and I had a very cheery cab driver who took us to Heathrow airport and we spent ages reminiscing about Kenny Everett, Benny Hill and the Young Ones. Classic and inspirational comedies that, just thinking about them, had us in fits of laughter. An excitable mood to the day.

Then on the French side a cab driver who was very keen to show off his insanely fancy car which had a massage seat in the back and some sort of control deck up front which had a video camera which showed the back of the car when he was reversing. He got me to press various buttons and I ended up reclined horizontally with some kind of machine pumeling the small of my back through the seat.

Steve and his Cannes-bag

Steve and his Cannes-bag

We are staying in the Radisson right in the centre of Cannes which is beautiful, but similar in some ways to the cab driver’s car. There are lots of buttons and gadgets on hand and an electric toilet which has a heated seat and options to clean front, back and blow dry without you having to move. One of my mottoes is never trust a toilet that has to be plugged in. I would unplug it but fear that I might set off an alarm. The view from my window is a stunning one of the beach and loads of yachts. It is an amazing place to be staying. We are being royally looked after by Protagonist and my excited mood has not dimmed for a moment…

Alice and I went for a stroll through Cannes in the afternoon. Apparently it had been raining heavily for days but when we arrived the sun came out which we took as a good omen. Being a Brit abroad I was extremely drawn to the Irish pub next to the hotel, with its warm beer and dingy atmosphere, but Alice said we couldn’t go in there and instead we went to a beach café and had a chilled French lager and Alice had a kir royal which was better.

Stepping into Cannes is like being beamed onto a strange dream planet where everyone is off their head. As we walked around there seemed to be loads of big shouts going up and crowds of photographers rushing to take snaps of some unknown amazing thing that we never quite caught a glimpse of. Perhaps some sort of rare wildlife, like an elephant seal giving birth or a dog walking on water. But more likely an actor on their way to the cinema. It is hilarious and unreal. In Cannes people actually look different too. You see impossibly beautiful, tanned and hansome people with clothes that fit incredibly well and features that are just a little too handsome and big. And the well-spoken used car dealer type rushing around on a mobile phone doing deals and having power meetings. Later someone told me about the ‘market place’ where films are bought and sold as if they were fish or meat. I thought I’d like to go there and buy a Japanese sci-fi or something.

Alice and I then went to a pizza and beer welcome party at the Film4 villa. It was a lovely, gentle introduction to the madness of Cannes. It was great to hook up with Tessa, Katherine, Sam, Catherine and Anna as well as Ben and Amy and our Sightseers producers Andy and Claire, Nira, Matthew. Manuel Chiche was also there – the man who moved the earth to help get us in to the festival, so good to meet him for the first time. Everyone excited and maybe a bit wired from hard work and lack of sleep. Sightseers lot jubilant at having already secured US and Australian distribution. I have been astonished at the wide appeal of the film as I thought no-one outside the W Midlands would get it. Astonishingly Israel have bought it too…

Click here to read Steve’s diary for the day of the premiere onwards…


by Steve Oram

Steve Oram is the co-writer and star of Sightseers, a film directed by Ben Wheatley which premiered in Cannes in 2012