Cannes 2015 Red Carpet Gown by Veronica Scheaffer

First of all, YES.  I know how deeply lucky I am to have had another beautiful gown made for me to wear on the Red Carpet in Cannes.  I am such a fan of fashion, love being the canvas, and know that these experiences are treasures!

For this year's Cannes Film Festival, I knew much earlier than last year that I would be on the Red Carpet!  Hosted by Hewlett Packard, I was asked to speak on the panel "Cutting Edge Collaborators: Women Achieving in Film." Our day would finish with the entire panel walking the Red Carpet together.  PERFECT!  I reached out to Veronica Sheaffer, having appreciated her work on instagram, pitched the opportunity and we immediately hit it off!  

Over the next three weeks and four fittings this stunning gown came together!

Grace McPhillips in Red Carpet Gown by Veronica Sheaffer

Grace McPhillips in Red Carpet Gown by Veronica Sheaffer

Aside from the stunning and dramatic effect the dress gives, it was so completely comfortable and made me feel regal, distinguished, and most importantly matched the accomplishment I was feeling.  Starring and producing in a feature film, The Other One, then seeing it through a year of festivals, and into distribution, was no easy task.  Excitement and stress come in equal doses during that process, so to then to be highlighted as a "Woman Achieving in Film," at Cannes, was just AWESOME!!!

Me, Kyle Flavell, and Komal Minhas encouraging the industry to be more than a fan!

Me, Kyle Flavell, and Komal Minhas encouraging the industry to be more than a fan!

One of the things I love about Veronica is that she is all in.  After knowing what fabric we would be working with, and the feeling of the gown, she began e-mailing me links to shoes and jewelry.  More than a gown designer, she is a stylist!  Her vision is all encompassing.  Check out all of the options in this video shot by Chris Rejano of the final fitting the day before we flew to France!

The shoes, that couldn't have been more perfect, were by Adrianna Papelle. Can you see that sparkle on the inside of the stiletto? LOVE!

While you can't beat a custom gown, Rent the Runway is my go-to for other fun, fancy occasions.  In Chicago they now have a store (YES!) and they treated me to amazing jewelry to complete the look.  Working with Veronica at the final fitting we decided on the DANNIJO Avril Earrings and the aptly named Jones Bracelets from Chamak by Priya Kakkar.  

And a note about Flatgate, (not the football debacle, but the female producers being ushed off the red carpet for wearing flats,)  this year, my mother joined me in Cannes and she rocked some silver Sam and Libby's Flats with no problem.  We had a great time, incase you can't tell from the picture. 

Now... it is called the Cannes Film Festival, so what film did we see and what did I think about it?

We saw Valerie Donzelli's fourth feature, Marguerite and Julian, a tragic, incestuous Romeo and Juliet.  The reviews were mixed and interestingly when I spoke to women about it, they understood the modern touches inserted into the film as hinting towards this story being a timeless one, but the men I spoke with were mostly confused by the helicopters, electricity, and modern cars in a story taking place in the 17th century and didn't like the film.

Personally, I thought there were many commendable moments.  The children's performances were so touching and beautiful. I liked the scenes being started in tableaus, not freezing the footage, but freezing the actors, and the sense of play with which she directed the brother and sister lovers was spot on.  

The music, however, was too american for me and when Marguerite is  captured, Valerie chose to "celebrify" the moment by showing it in paparazzi style, still photography.  This felt off.  It's the only time she choses to do this in the film and it feels pushed and insincere.  It took me out of the story immediately and removed the actors from their performances for me.  Aside from that it was beautifully made and a nice story to explore.  Worthy of Cannes? Absolutely.  Groundbreaking?  No, but I think Valerie Donzelli has it in her and I'll be curious to see what is in her future. #SEEHERNOW

There was a lot energy around female filmmakers this year, but there were only two female directors in competition.  Directors of films certainly have the least representation, but the numbers across the board for female filmmakers isn't great, particularly in the upper echelon of filmmaking.

I'd like to see more women working with bigger budgets and will continue to be an advocate for women in film.  It's what I am, so why wouldn't I?  Also the best idea I've heard for creating real change is quotas.  People, and I think, Americans in particular, don't like to be told they have to do one thing or another, but when a history of injustice needs to be corrected, we MUST do things that, at the time ,feel uncomfortable or even unfair.  

Maybe you saw the film Selma?  Blacks had the right to vote, but it didn't mean it was going to happen.  Affirmative action was also an uncomfortable thing for many people, and at times, yes, it was unfair, but the culture wasn't going to change without demonstrative action.  This is the place we are at with female filmmakers.  If you haven't yet, please sign the ACLU petition for investigation into discriminatory hiring practices in Hollywood.  I'm on it.

Red Carpet Cannes Fun!

Getting onto the Red Carpet during the Cannes Film Festival is a bit of a mystery, and unless you have studio or French filmmaking connections there's no guarantee your trip to the festival will include a walk down that beautiful carpet into the Palais.  

Our short film Eclipse was in the festival, and I was set to present on my recently completed feature The Other One at The Majestic with our film's supporting partner HP. However, this didn't guarantee an invitation and as I've learned twice now, sometimes an invitation to a premiere can arrive without much warning. One week before heading out to Cannes, I was invited to attend the Red Carpet for Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner, his directorial swan song!  

I'm a proud Chicagoan, so if I could give a little PR bump to an amazing Chicago designer, I would absolutely do so. And, if I was fortunate to have that happen, I certainly would need the right shoes, jewelry and encouragement from a stellar stylist, to know it was all coming together.  A gal's gotta prepare.

Naturally I reached out to my film's make-up team Jen Brown and Martina Sykes.  Lana McAllister, a wardrobe designer for film who had just wrapped another film with Martina, set up a meeting for me with a fabulous Chicago designer! 

Enter Anastatia Chatzka! Click on her site and you'll see not only her amazing collection, but a familiar face!

This lady, who is a pocket dynamo and super cool, made this custom dress for me in three days!

Photo Session

Anastasia's dress is a work of art, yards of emerald teal material with gold thread, draped just so, and embellished with matching lace and bead appliqués.  The balance was then making sure it all came together in a tasteful and elegant way. I also needed a killer and comfortable heel to keep the dress and it's three foot train floating perfectly.  


To bring it all together the amazing Hanna Lee Ashbaugh, stylist and personal shopper, brought together the perfect options for my Red Carpet debut.  Hanna found three elegant options, but it was the gold four inch drop earrings, that tied it together, and she knowingly advised me to stay away from a necklace, which looking back at the pictures, I am so glad she did so! I have never loved my décolletage more!

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I've never been more comfortable and happy to walk with perfect confidence knowing Hanna had helped me complete and rock the Anastasia Chatzka gown!

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After debating clutches we went with my grandmother's vintage gold clam shell clutch and Hanna layered gold bangles on my wrist to finish the details.

 Shoes!  She found an amazing deal on a gorgeous pair of nude Stuart Weitzman platform wedges, which did not disappoint. They were the perfect height and perfectly stable for the uncertain pavements and roads of Cannes.

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Another huge surprise which didn't hurt the confidence, was the Hair and Make-up Artist HP treated me too for the event! THANK YOU, THANK YOU HP! Here's a few more fun views of the evening!  

This was my view while my hair and make-up was prepped!

This was my view while my hair and make-up was prepped!

One last look from behind to see the hair and thank the man, who's with me every step of the way!  I love ya Mr. Lunsford. 

And... when at the Cannes Film Festival always bring another dress, because you never know when another invite will fall into your lap!


Setting a New Bar in Cost Effective Filmmaking at Cannes 2014: Grace McPhillips’ Films The Other One and Eclipse

Unveiled at Sundance, “Concept to Completion in Ten Months” To Be Presented at Cannes at the Hewlett-Packard Studio

May 13, 2014 - CHICAGO - At last year’s Sundance film fest, actress/producer Grace McPhillips was electrified by a new tool that could make filmmaking faster than ever, and just one year later she was back at Sundance to present with Hewlett-Packard on the completed feature film The Other One. “Concept to Completion in Ten Months: The Future of Indie Filmmaking” is again being presented twice at the Cannes Film Festival, and shows off the innovations in technology, creative collaboration, and crowd funding that McPhillips’ company Sterling Rock Productions used to pull off this feat.

The HP Z820 RED Edition Workstation was the catalyst for McPhillips’ epiphany. “The greatest challenge to emerging filmmakers is funding, and time is money,” declares McPhillips. “Because of our partnership with HP, this computer allowed us to shoot for 13 days and walk away with a rough cut of the entire movie, plus a teaser trailer to take to Cannes 2013 a week later.”

After her discovery of the innovative new workstation, McPhillips returned to Chicago and wrangled director Josef Steiff and an experienced production team. They began collaboratively creating a screenplay and funding plan that could fulfill the promise of a finished feature in under a year. “We broke a lot of old rules making The Other One and its prequel Eclipse, but thankfully our partners at HP and our 276 funders supported us the whole way.”

Making its world premiere at Cannes in the Short Film Corner is the prequel Eclipse, produced simultaneously with the feature- effectively generating two films, each with their own purpose and distribution model, from one production schedule and budget.

Working with high-resolution cameras, like the RED, is a blessing and a curse. Shooting schedules are getting tighter, budgets are shrinking, and new cameras are smaller and better than ever, but the digital files are getting so big they drag most computers down. McPhillips points out that “for each day of production, the Z820 RED Edition Workstation eliminated hours of work and weeks of waiting, and was invaluable to meeting our aggressive deadlines.”

In “Concept to Completion in Ten Months: The Future of Indie Filmmaking,” McPhillips lays out all the tips and tricks used to produce these films with micro-budgets and uncommonly tight deadlines. The event will take place at the HP Studio at the Majestic Hotel in Cannes, on Thursday May 15th and Saturday May 17th at 3:30pm. Admission to the workshop is complimentary to accredited festival attendees.


Elizabeth Theiss


ABOUT THE PRESENTER: Grace McPhillips founded SRP because the movies she wanted to see were not being made.  She has served on the Boards of Directors of the Screen Actors Guild Midwest and the Illinois Production Alliance (which lobbies for tax incentives in the film industry), where she spearheaded an initiative to bring the production of major motion pictures and television shows to Chicago. She also founded the 501c3 Chicago Acting in Film Meetup, a professional support group of over 150 screen actors.