Film Festival Alliance

Category Archives: Best Practices

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Earlier this fall, 60 festivals participated in FFA’s first salary survey. The results are in — and instead of a dry report with graphs and numbers, we are allowing you to play with the data.

Using Airtable technology, you can sort, group, and filter to work your way through the data to see how other festivals compensate Executive Directors/Sole Operators and other main staff members. There is a table of all relevant data, and each position is also detailed in separate tables accessible by clicking the dropdown menu on the upper left. By default, the data is grouped by festival budget size to compare numbers and benefits within a cohort of similar organizations. For best viewing, click on the “View Larger Version” button at the bottom right. Note: This works best from a computer screen. The mobile view is limited.

Let us know what you think — and please participate in the 2017 survey which will launch during the summer.

Thank you to all of the festivals who participated.

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Now that the Film Festival Alliance is a stand-alone organization, we have a lot of work to do as a community. As such, we are pleased to announce the initial Committee structure discussed at the Art House Convergence. These committees will certainly shift and shimmy over time, but we identified these topics of immediate concern.

For the time being, acting board members will chair these committees; over time, however, we plan to engage a broader range of members in leadership positions. As well, we expect that each Committee will refine its individual mission over time.

Please note: Committees are open to Film Festival Alliance members in good standing.


Board Development, Governance & Membership

As the Film Festival Alliance transitions into a fully independent nonprofit, issues around governance and board development become more critical. We are currently considering new candidates for board of directors seats and looking to put a committee together to create a strategy around composition, recruitment, and duties and responsibilities. This committee would also be involved with researching and recommending governance policies and discussing and recommending potential amendments to the current bylaws.

Want to join? Contact Chair Colin Stanfield.


Ethics/Advocacy

This far-reaching Committee will focus on issues that cut across film festivals both internally and externally. Some areas of focus will be standardizing how attendance is reported; ensuring that FFA member festivals have procedures to ensure fair treatment of filmmakers; and establishing base best practices for venues, submissions, and festival operations.

The Committee will also address external issues that film festivals, as a whole, need to respond to, such as AMPAS grant or qualification changes for festivals; ADA compliance in art houses or make-shift festival venues; theater safety concerns; and more.

It is important to note that the FFA currently neither requires nor has the resources to police these issues festival by festival. Therefore, this Committee will come up with a list of best practices that member festivals can agree to implement according to their budget level and resources; we will then determine if any reporting of errors on behalf of the festival can take place.

Want to join? Contact Chair Deirdre Haj.


Development

Made up of film festivals nationwide, this Committee seeks to find funds for the Alliance and our member festivals, and also to identify and outline ways that festivals of all sizes can get access to much needed funding from national resources.

The Committee will also offer educational forums on development, detailing how to market your festival to patrons, members, sponsors, foundations and individuals.

Want to join? Contact Chair Anne Chaisson.


Membership Benefits

By working with partner festivals, companies and sponsors, the Benefits Committee seeks to create and establish a ongoing structure of membership benefits, opportunities, and privileges to be enjoyed by participating and current FFA members.

Want to join? Contact Co-Chairs Tom Hall and Rosie Wong.


Programming

This Committee will brainstorm, plan and develop diverse and wide-ranging programming—identifying topics and recruiting participants for panel discussions, presentations, roundtables and more—for the annual in-person gatherings of the Film Festival Alliance. These events currently include the annual Art House Convergence in January and IFP Film Week in September.

The Committee will also work with AHC to plan and develop regional conferences, which offer terrific opportunities for local festivals and theaters to connect and collaborate.

Throughout the year, the Committee will work with the Communications and Professional Development Committee to develop monthly webinars, white papers on best practices, and members-only forum discussions.

Want to join? Contact Chair Jon Gann.


Communications and Professional Development

This Committee will develop internal communications for the Alliance—including newsletters, website, social media and publicity. The Committee will also manage external communications, including press releases and broader public-facing messaging, on behalf of the Alliance’s ongoing organizational and advocacy work.

Throughout the year, the Committee will work with the Programming Committee to offer professional development, including but not limited to monthly webinars, white papers on best practices, and members-only forum discussions. In monthly calls, the Committee will identify areas of development of interest to our members, and recruit presenters, authors and moderators for these topics of discussion.

Want to join? Contact Co-Chairs Jody Arlington & Kristin McCracken.

We have finalized the agenda for the Film Festival Alliance @ IFP Film Week, including seminars, presentations and networking opportunities. While Film Week runs from September 20-25, most of the festival-specific programming is scheduled for September 23-25; we hope you can join us!

Festivals receive 40% off the registration fee for IFP Film Week. Visit ifp.org and use code ah$s to generate the discount.

Questions? Contact Industry Manager Jennifer Carpenter at jcarpenter@ifp.org.

2015 ANNUAL FESTIVAL FORUM AGENDA
September 23-25
Lincoln Center
144 West 65th Street (map)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Festival Forum: Should Festivals Care About TV?
2:00 to 2:45 pm

Bruno Walter Auditorium – 111 Amsterdam Avenue
As filmmakers seize upon the creative and professional opportunities provided by episodic storytelling, both on network TV and online, film festivals have only just begun to incorporate this shift into their programming. But with the small screen often considered a traditional enemy of the big screen experience, can festivals find a meaningful relationship with TV storytelling? Does a festival’s mission of “serving the filmmaking community” extend to small screen content? And if so, how can festivals build a meaningful, competitive platform for TV while preserving the collective film-going experience that is at the heart of their missions? This panel examines the opportunities and issues surrounding the rapidly changing landscape of ambitious, cinematic storytelling.

Panelists: Terence Gray, Founder and Exec Director, NY Television Festival; Randi Kleiner, CEO of SeriesFest; Janet Pierson, Head of Film, SXSW; Amanda Warman, producer of The Outs and Whatever This Is; Moderated by Jody Arlington, Festival Forum

Meet the Festival Programmers: Narrative
Note time and location change!
3:30 to 5:30 pm (also on Thursday, 2:30-5:30) 

Rose Room | Rose Building: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 10th Floor
Meet with narrative feature, doc and web content creators, discovering them first before they’re on the circuit. These are filmmaker-selected meetings, so contact Zach Mandinach if you would like to represent your event at these small group meetings, which last approximately 15 minutes. Not all festivals can participate, and you must sign up for participation in advance of August 25. Register now for your festival to be considered for the roundtables. For more information, email Zach Mandinach at zmandinach@ifp.org.

Rooftop Films + IFP Labs “Sneak Peek” Showcase
7:00 to 10:00 pm

The Labs Showcase gives audiences a first-look at exciting new films before their festival premieres. This outdoor screening features excerpts from the 20 new films from the emerging talent of the 2015 IFP Labs, the nation’s only program that supports diverse feature filmmakers when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their first features. Invite with details will be sent to registrants.

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Gilman Theater, Film Society of Lincoln Center

Welcome and Association Updates
9:00 to 9:30 am

Introducing the Film Festival Alliance and our 2016 programming and member-driven initiatives!

Love, Money, Youth: Your Festival’s Strategy Here!
9:30 am to 12:30 pm

While each film festival is unique in its own way, we all share similar challenges and opportunities. No matter what a single festival might look like, most are grappling with the same questions: how can we grow in esteem in the eyes of filmmakers and the industry? How can we secure more financial support to deliver on our best ideas and capitalize on creative opportunities? How can we reach younger audiences and build for the future? This two-part session will ask each attending delegate to introduce what makes your festival special and share your festival’s greatest challenge, followed by an open discussion of strategies and tactics that can help your organization become all that it can be.

Space is limited, so please register soon. Registrants will receive further instructions and a presentation template ASAP.

Kaplan Room | Rose Building: 70 Lincoln Center Plaza, 10th Floor

Note date, time and location change!
Meet the Festival Programmers: Documentary
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Meet with narrative feature, doc and web content creators, discovering them first before they’re on the circuit. These are filmmaker-selected meetings, so contact Zach Mandinach if you would like to represent your event at these small group meetings, which last approximately 15 minutes. Not all festivals can participate, and you must sign up for participation in advance of August 25. Register now for your festival to be considered for the roundtables. For more information, email Zach Mandinach at zmandinach@ifp.org.

IFP at Film Week 2015


We hope to see you there! In the meantime, please check out the Festival Alliance on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. 

The reviews are rave, the company is spectacular, and the shared knowledge is priceless.

Join festival colleagues from across the country (and beyond) for the only Festival Conference you need! Programming is set for the 2016 Art House ConvergenceJanuary 18-21 in Midway, UT, and we think you will find the far-ranging topics to be right up your alley.

Registration is now open!

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In the meantime, follow the Festival Alliance on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations…

Happy summer, fellow festival folks! As some of us find time to relax, others look at summer to find new ways to market the exciting work we do.

To that end, some of you may have noticed the stellar Annual Report recently disseminated by the Seattle International Film Festival. For our July 2015 webinar, we asked Carl Spence talk us through why the Annual Report is such a solid tool for SIFF.

Case Study Webinar: Annual Report as Ultimate Marketing Tool

Annual reports are all too frequently dry summaries presented to boards, then buried on a website. SIFF’s 2014 Annual Report is a masterful example of using the year-end report as a full bore marketing tool, hitting all stakeholder groups and utilizing all the visual and technical mobile bells and whistles. This was also SIFF’s 40th Anniversary. Carl Spence walked us through the strategy for this Annual report, and how it compared to reports in previous years.

In case you missed it, here’s the archived video of the online presentation. (Note: due to technical difficulties, some portions are missing; we apologize, but we think there’s still enough “there” there to give you the gist.)

Other things we considered included:

  • How long did it take to create? Did you outsource or go DIY style?
  • What service/design/web developer did you use?
  • What went into your creative brief/creative direction?
  • What other examples inspired you?
  • How involved was the board in the process?
  • What advice would you give to festivals for collecting and maintaining the data and details that count if they are doing something like this?
  • How important was the anniversary to the process?
  • What has been the feedback?
  • How are you using this beyond the blast?

We hope you can join us at our next webinar. In the meantime, follow the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations…

Though we’re deep in the throes of summer, don’t forget that the roller coaster of fall (into winter!) will be here before we know it. Please mark your calendars to join us at IFP Film Week and Art House Convergence. More info below. 

IFP Film Week logo

IFP Festival Forum at IFP Film Week 2015: September 20-25

Taking place concurrent to Independent Film Week each year, IFP Festival Forum is the leading gathering of international and U.S. film festival leadership. This professional association advocates for the needs and interests of film festival organizers and also provides a collaborative platform for members to develop curatorial and operational efficiencies, professional standards and best practices, and leverage their collective interests to the international film community.

Note: Key dates for IFPFF programming at Film Week are Wednesday through Friday, September 23-25. More details to come…

Forum Member Festivals receive 40% off registration! Use code ah$s to register today.

Art House Convergence photo

Art House Convergence 2016: January 18-21

As the largest annual gathering of Art House cinema and festival professionals, community leaders, service providers and suppliers, the conference attracts participants from across the world. By defining our field, creating a shared vision and vocabulary, and identifying best practices, the educational components of the Convergence’s annual conference strengthen efforts to sustain Art House cinemas and film festivals of various sizes, operating structures and programming philosophies.

Our tentative schedule includes programming around submissions, income, fundraising pitches, staffing, projection and much, more more!

Registration is now open!

We hope to see you at these invaluable events. In the meantime, please join our community on Facebook and Twitter, and check out archived webinars on YouTube

“Committing to diversity in arts organizations is not about checking off a box, filling up a diversity quota, or reaching out to the few people of color that you know. It is about establishing an organizational commitment to diversity advancement. Adopting an organization-wide way of thinking that welcomes diverse experiences and backgrounds will only uplift the potential an organization has to thrive.”

— Read more of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Arts Management: An Exposé and Guide on Howlround.com.

Every month, IFP Festival Forum hosts a webinar on a topic that will make your festival life easier, happier, and more productive.

This month: Rosie Wong (Associate Director of Industry and Alumni Relations, Sundance Institute) walked us through the best thing (daunting though it may be!) you can do for the future of your festival: how to assign, write and gather all-encompassing wrap reports.

Taking Down the Circus Tent: Wrap Reports 101

Having your staff write wrap reports is probably the most vital thing to planning your next edition. This is when they can include what they think went right, what didn’t, how to improve for next year—all crucial information for the year(s) to come. We discuss what makes a good wrap report and what kind of information you should ask for from your staff in order to ensure you’re on the right track for planning and improving upon future festivals!

Moderator: Rosie Wong, Sundance Film Festival

To receive access to sample wrap reports, please visit our Google Group. (If you are not already a member, please request access.)


We hope you’ll join us next time! In the meantime, join us on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations and updates…

Judy Laster
Executive Director, Woods Hole Film Festival
Cape Cod

Being a good advocate takes time and effort, but the results can be rewarding.

While we in the Festival world understand and value what we do and what we offer to our local, regional and state communities, we can’t assume that others share our enthusiasm or understanding. The best way to bring people along and to convert them into supporters is by first hand experience.

Invite them to your events and follow up afterwards to thank them for coming.

At the local level, it is important to know your civic leaders (Mayor or Selectmen) and business leaders and Chambers of Commerce.

If your town has an Arts or Tourism Council, get involved and stay involved. Become indispensable. In addition to providing them detailed information about the Festival, paint the picture of how your Festival fits into the fabric of the community from a financial, social and reputation perspective.

For example, in 2014, Woods Hole was deemed to be one of the best small towns in the United States for culture by Smithsonian Magazine, and the Festival was a determining factor in their calculus.

Understand the issues in the Community and try to develop programming that is responsive or complimentary to the broader concerns; this helps to create an ownership stake for residents and business leaders.

At the state level, understand that your local state rep or senator has many, many issues to consider. While an in-person meeting is a great idea, developing relationships with their staff is important as well. And keeping staff briefed will help to pave the way when it comes time for budget decision-making.

In Massachusetts, there are also several statewide advocacy organizations that focus on arts and arts funding. Mass Creative is a non-profit that helps inform legislators on issues related to arts and culture, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council—a state grant funding organization—does as well. We make sure their leaders know our story.

We also participate in the broader film community organizations, particularly the Massachusetts Production Coalition, which focuses on advocacy around film and the film tax credit.

We have and maintain a relationship with the state film office, and we keep emphasizing the importance of Festivals to them as well, although they don’t really have much ability to help financially. (However, at this past Sundance, they were able to make introductions to Massachusetts filmmakers whose work was in the Festival.)

Finally, when appropriate, be a thought leader through op-eds or other public forums.

Our philosophy: a rising tide floats all boats. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.


Have an idea for a case study? Email us with a proposal!

In our March webinar, Anne Chaisson (Executive Director, Hamptons International Film Festival) walked us through the year-round process of finding the right partners who can help our festivals reach their full potential.

Sponsorship: Finding the Right Partners

This roundtable discussion centered around creating tailored and lasting sponsorship partners for your film festival. Hear how other film festivals of all shapes and sizes have found local, regional and national partners and parlayed those relationships into multi-year sponsorships. 

In case you missed it, check out the full webinar, archived on YouTube (scroll to :35 for the actual start!):

Takeaway:
Download the PDF presentation here.
Sample Sponsor Wrap Report to come!


Check out the full range of our archived webinars here, and please join us for our next webinar. Details to follow…