It made an incongruous sight on the main seafront drag of rather glamorous Cannes, a big Maori guy greeting my pal and giving me a hongi. Reminded of the Frankfurt Book Fair, a massive annual event, and seeing a group of Maori in the hotel foyer in Jandals, shorts and T-shirts greeting me with the raised eyebrows.
Our Maori mate took us to lunch at a pretty nice restaurant called New York, New York. He'd been coming to the TV conferences twice a year for the past 10 years, so he knew his way around. Our confident, larger-than-life host ordered sushimi with truffles as starters, and I ribbed him about his sophisticated taste, saying I'd prefer a boil-up. The dish was superb and I was glad he gave this writer of simple tastes the experience.
To see about 11,000 buyers and sellers of television content for the first time was almost overwhelming. But we'd got off to a good pre-start with a Sunday evening meeting with a producer, so we didn't quite get buried. I love the dynamics of capitalism, witnessing in the flesh the simple process of supply and demand meeting up and trying to agree on a project then price.
It's just another market except with one product: television programmes.
Paying the equivalent of $20 for a large bottle of water - and not Perrier, either - and the same for a small bottle of beer while waiting for a meeting at a five-star hotel meant no more drinks. We were told bars, restaurants and taxis in Cannes put their prices up when the MIPTV attendees arrive.
Near every restaurant was packed for lunch, and dinner even more so. We figured a lot of people had expense cards. As we didn't, it was supermarket food cooked at our Airbnb apartment. Speaking of which, it has to be one of the great business ideas of all time that allows ordinary people to let out their properties; a case of the market meeting a demand previously not considered. Airbnb takes a cut of a million rentals a week. Extraordinary.
Again, like the expensive, hedonistic lifestyle, it's not this writer's preference, not Champagne, super yacht or private jet.
There's the film festival in Cannes next month. The taxi driver to the airport told me the film folk spend more than the television people. I guess because most don't have to work as such, rather than promote, wine and dine, shop and gamble at the casinos. What would I know?
This is an interesting world we live in and for many, no doubt, so far from their home origins. We met a lot of people and had intimate chats with a few. What they had in common was spirit, manifested in enthusiasm and a never-say-die attitude.
We heard of impossible dreams coming true, of two-person teams coming up with a TV drama series that became a wild success sold to 160 countries. Of course, almost by definition, the converse stories of trying and trying again to no avail would only be heard in some dank bar and some never-was crying in his whiskey. That may be me. Just the dank bar setting won't be necessary, knowing he did his best.
As mentioned last week, the world's tastes in television and film entertainment has changed greatly. Now, TV series binge-watching is all the rage. Which requires content. That requires writers. The old tale of the Polish actress making the mistake of sleeping with the writer is no longer valid. In television drama, the show-creators sit at the top of the pile. I don't mean like horrible little dictators. Just their talent is now recognised as the first essential in making a successful series, like David Chase did with the sublime The Sopranos.
The venue was a massive building on the waterfront with yachts from 15m to - someone told us some cost 50 to 100 million. Again, like the expensive, hedonistic lifestyle, it's not this writer's preference, not Champagne, super yacht or private jet.
But there is one thing in which I would indulge: a French-style seafood banquet. I felt quite the poor man with nose pressed up against the window pane of dining establishments seeing customers feasting on lobster, oysters in the shell, big prawns, several types of shellfish, crab claws, washed down with a French - or New Zealand - white wine. Maybe on the next visit ...