From Fluke to France to FilmsCrystal Bourbeau FR'00's entrance into the film world wasn't quite the stuff of movie magic, but the culmination of chance and determination. Attending a film festival the summer before her senior year of college, she got the contact information of a director's girlfriend, who was working for Fox Searchlight at the time. Knowing she would have to differentiate herself from any other potential applicants, Bourbeau reached out and asked if she could take her out for coffee. "I think she was so surprised that I would fly from NYC to meet her," she says, "that she thankfully agreed." And the end result? Bourbeau met her first boss at Orange Entertainment.
After her stint at Orange Entertainment, Bourbeau worked in the International Division of GreeneStreet Films and then moved to Lionsgate. She's been with Lionsgate for over eight years, beginning as a director of international sales in 2007, moving her way up to executive vice president of international sales.
Based out of London, Bourbeau is responsible for Lionsgate's film licensing and distribution initiatives in the U.K., Spain, Eastern Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States, Latin America, Australia and Canada. She's played a key part in foreign sales of over 100 films at Lionsgate, helping to launch the global blockbuster Hunger Games franchise as well as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 and Now You See Me. She also assists in managing the company's third-party international sales business, which has included the Academy Award-winning Best Picture 12 Years a Slave.
It's not just her career that Bourbeau jumpstarted with chance and absolute resolve. Attending SYA was also somewhat of a fluke. "My French professor at Loomis Chaffee, David Goff, mentioned the program almost haphazardly during class. Despite my being extremely late in the application process, I was absolutely fixated on getting into SYA."
Once there, she found she had underestimated how strange it would feel to live in a country without the basic tools to communicate. "But then you just adapt. Sometimes even the smallest success gave me such a huge sense of accomplishment."
Settled into the daily life of Rennes, she and her classmates competed to see who would be the first to dream in French. While other students watched TV to pick up French vernacular, Bourbeau's family refused to own one. Instead, her host mother would read Bourbeau poetry after school or go to the theater with her. While none of this propelled Bourbeau into first place of dreaming in French, it did help fuel her love for the arts.
Bourbeau's journey afterward also became a mix of chance and determination. "I became so infatuated with this year of constant discovery that I found myself slightly lost at university trying to find the right direction. It was only when I did an internship at the Cannes Film Festival that I was determined to incorporate an international component into my career path. Admittedly the south of France has an obvious appeal, but it felt like I could find a career that naturally fit my love for travel, various cultures, the arts and business."
In France, it was immediately apparent to Bourbeau that she was a guest in someone else's home and that she needed to acclimate to her new country. "My year in France provided the basic emotional tools to appreciate a culture that wasn't necessarily my own, regardless of my personal beliefs."
These tools, developed at SYA, have helped her tremendously in her current position. "I need to use that basic appreciation for another culture on a daily basis as I build relationships with clients from around the world. I enter into negotiations acutely aware of my clients' cultural perspective and the nuances of our conversation whether they're English, Russian or Brazilian." And they're tools that have been useful in other aspects of her life, as well. "When I moved abroad, I learned to observe and appreciate a culture that wasn't my own. I think there is a certain amount of humility in that process. When my current employer relocated me to London nearly two years ago, I was more than prepared to assimilate and start a new life in the U.K."