Festival tribe, do you have emerging filmmakers on your radar who would benefit from the 2016 IFP Filmmaker Labs? If so, please spread the word…
IFP’s unique yearlong mentorship program supports first-time feature directors when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their films. Focusing exclusively on low-budget features (<$1million), this highly immersive program provides filmmakers with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch their films—and their careers. Through the Labs, IFP works to ensure that talented emerging voices receive the support, resources, and industry exposure necessary to reach audiences.
Open to all first time feature documentary and narrative directors with films in post-production. Twenty projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) are selected for the annual program. All Lab projects also automatically participate in the Project Forum of IFP’s Independent Film Week.
Lab alumni projects include Charles Poekel’s Christmas, Again(Factory 25), Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s (T)error(The Film Collaborative), Darius Clark Monroe’s Evolution of a Criminal (Independent Lens), David Thorpe’s Do I Sound Gay? (Sundance Selects) Aron Gaudet & Gita Pullapilly’s Beneath the Harvest Sky (Tribeca Film), Stacie Passon‘s Concussion (RADiUS), Alexandre Moors‘ Blue Caprice (Sundance Selects), Penny Lane‘s Our Nixon (CNN Films and Cinedigm), Daniel Patrick Carbone‘s Hide Your Smiling Faces (Tribeca Film), Lotfy Nathan‘s 12 O’Clock Boys (Oscilloscope), Dee Rees‘sPariah (FocusFeatures), and Terence Nance‘s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Variance Films).
Greetings! Just a few weeks ago, many of us gathered pre-Sundance at the Art House Convergence to share camaraderie, best practices and new ideas for how to be better film festivals. For those who were there, thank you for making this our largest, best-attended event yet. A record number of festival professionals attended this year, our third as an AHC partner. We programmed close to 30 festival-specific panels and events, and our members and attending festival professionals participated in a wide range of productive activities throughout the conference.
For those who could not be with us, no worries. We will start our monthly webinars again soon, and are already planning our next regional event, so stay tuned!
Originally founded in 2010 as a program of IFP, we are excited to remind you that we are now a stand alone, not-for-profit organization: the first and only such group dedicated to Film Festivals and the dedicated individuals who make them happen. Our new website is up and running, which we will be adding to and updating often, so poke around and see what is new.
Many festivals graciously renewed their memberships or joined for the first time last month. Thank you all! If you were a previous a member of the IFP Festival Forum—our former entity—but have not renewed, expect a letter soon from our Treasurer, Anne Chaisson.
If you have not yet joined, we ask that you join today. The rates are reasonable, and soon many of the tools and benefits we have provided will be available only to paying festivals and professional members. Do you work for several organizations or run a volunteer festival? Join as an individual! Rates start as low as $100, but the benefits to the field are innumerable.
Lastly, our board formed working committees at the Art House Convergence. If you volunteered for a committee, or if you wish to join one now (and are a paying member), please contact the relevant committee chair, get involved and help these groups undertake their important work in the weeks to come. Have a festival coming up? Please just let your chair know when you will be available. We know better than anyone how seasonally your workload shifts.
That is why the Film Festival Alliance is special: no one knows what gets you out of bed to do the mission-driven work of running a film festival better than we do. The Film Festival Alliance is your tribe, and we are here for you.
On behalf of all of us, thank you, and we look forward to seeing you all again—and working together!—soon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2015 ANNUAL FESTIVAL FORUM AGENDA September 23-25
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Convergence, January 18-21 in Midway, UT, and we think you will find the far-ranging topics to be right up your alley.
One notable area of growth is among film festival leadership. Brian Tamm and Nancy Campbell, who respectively head up the executive function and program of the Independent Film Festival Boston (IFFBoston), attended this year’s Art House Convergence because of its track designed for festival staff by another national group, this time of film festivals, called IFP Festival Forum.
Festival Forum (currently a project of Independent Film Project; this fall it will become an independent nonprofit called Film Festival Alliance) joined forces with Art House Convergence and began programming at the annual gathering in 2014. This week marks the first time the entities will partner for a regional conference.
Collaborating with Festival Forum makes a lot of sense to Collins, who explains, “There’s karmic overlap and practical overlap, in terms of most festivals are housed in art house venues.”
We had a fabulous time in Boston—special thanks to the Brian Tamm, Nancy Campbell, and Anna Feder for making local arrangements (dinner! karaoke!) on the ground. And the entire Coolidge Corner Theatre staff made us all feel welcome in their classically cinematic digs.
One highlight was the Festival Track Mixer, where we saw some old friends and (hopefully!) forged some new collaborations.
In the meantime, follow the Alliance on Facebook and Twitter for ongoing conversations, and check out the Film Festival Organizers private Facebook group, where pertinent questions are asked and answered everyday. Join us!
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…
The IFP Festival Forum will be out in force August 12-13 at the Art House Convergence Regional Seminar in Boston, an opportunity for Festivals to sample Art House Convergence and Festival Track programming, and also forge deeper relationships with other festival organizers participating in Seminar.
What’s more, AHC has planned a terrific agenda, including pre-seminar tours of local art house institutions (Brattle! Coolidge! Somerville! Emerson!) and even the legendary Fenway Park (!).
Specific Festival track events are highlighted (highlit?) below.
Click here for full details and registration information.
Evening: As part of the Festival Track, join festival organizers from DC Shorts, Hamptons, Film Society of Lincoln Center, SXSW and regional festivals to socialize, learn more about each other’s events and the forum. Please email email@example.com if you would like to participate in this dinner (location TBD; pay your own way, first drink on us!).
9:00AM – 9:30AM: Tour of the Coolidge Corner Theatre
9:30AM – 10:30AM: A Conversation with Technical Wizard Chapin Cutler
10:30AM – 11:30AM: Building Fundraising Muscle Within Your Organization From capital campaigns to membership drives, fundraising is a necessity for non-profit art houses (and festivals!). Learn from several theaters on how to build and manage your development staff effectively, leverage your community impact, and cultivate your audience in order to build up your fundraising muscle, and increase your fundraising dollars.
11:30 – 12:30 PM: Festival Track Mixer Bring a stack of your festival programs, brochures, post cards and stories, to share with other Festival organizers from around the region and beyond, for this informal meet-and-greet and information sharing session replete with refreshments and materials on upcoming Festival Forum activities, and an exploration of greater regional collaboration. Representatives from at least a dozen festivals in attendance!
11:30AM – 12:30PM: Single Screen Theaters: Making The Most of Your Single Screen
12:30PM – 1:30PM: Lunch
130-1:30PM – 2:30PM: Building A Culture of Great Service ZingTrain will be back again for a one-hour session focused on customer service. Learn how customer service begins within your organization and find out why it’s crucial to treat your staff with as much care as you treat your customers. With great techniques and new tools, you’ll leave with a refreshed perspective on your customer service and some plans for creating a more effective culture at your theater or festival.
2:30PM – 3:30PM: Session Five (TBA)
3:30PM – 5:00PM: Case Study of the Coolidge Corner Theatre
5:00PM – 6:30PM: Cocktail Reception at Osaka sponsored by Art House Cinema Solutions Join us at Osaka Japanese Sushi & Steak House, across the street from the Coolidge, for drinks and sushi following the day’s sessions. Stop in for a drink before dinner or before heading back to the Coolidge for Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
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.
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…
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!
Right now we are screening submissions for our early December film festival. Also, my Advisory Board is selecting the honoree for the ‘Career Achievement” award presented at our Gala event. In the past we have honored Richard Leacock, Susan Lacy, D A Pennebaker / Chris Hegedus, and Barbara Kopple.
Eight years ago, along with many other hopeful artists, I submitted my documentary film to a major film festival and it didn’t make the cut. But there were no sour grapes. It was just the motivation I needed to launch an alternative festival—a more inclusive one that offered a ‘second chance’ to filmmakers whose work deserved a screening, a ‘take 2’ as they say in the movie business. And so the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival was born.
I founded and ran a boutique advertising agency in New York City, where our expertise was creating and producing corporate promotional video films. I believed then, as I do now, that moving images communicate better and more effectively. Several of our films won industry awards. So I didn’t need any convincing about the medium of film; it was the subject matter that changed.
When I left NYC and relocated to the East End of Long Island I began making short environmental pieces, and that shift in focus led me to social justice issues. My first feature documentary took up the subject of the death penalty: The Empty Chair: Death Penalty Yes or No. It went on to receive the prestigious Thurgood Marshall Broadcast Journalism Award.
Equipment/Software Must Haves
The single most important tool in the toolbox to have if you are running a film festival is a strong belief in the genre. Our humanity is the raw material for documentarians to shape into films. Whatever the subject, they reach the frontal cortex of the brains, an area that moves people, sometimes into action. Other tools are the same everyone needs for success: leadership, perseverance, good budgeting skills, and even better people skills.
Gandhi. He was a creative thinker who solved problems by thinking outside the box. A few of his strategies and virtues resonate with me: faith in oneself, resistance and persistence, learning from mistakes, truthfulness, and finally, take the first steps and do it.
Always, raising enough funds! To expand, bring filmmakers to the festival, pay consultants, advertise and promote. The list expands as our festival expands. The challenge is to persuade sponsors that supporting the arts and independent filmmaking is as important as any other investment. The profit from investing in the arts is more intangible. It doesn’t always show up in the bottom line. But it does show up in helping shape a richer society.
As a filmmaker, I was struggling to end a documentary. It was a question of letting go of ‘my baby.’ One day when a fellow documentarian said, ‘Just end it,’ I realized that was the push I needed.
The best advice for a film festival is to understand that it takes time to build a loyal and committed audience. It takes several years for people to know you’ll be around. A consultant said, ‘Be patient.’ I learned to be… but also to be persistent.
Greatest Accomplishment as a Festival
To keep this festival going and thriving for eight years, and holding it at a time of the year when folks need a really good motivator to leave their warm homes and come out to the movie theater, especially when it snows. But they come.
The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival, now in its 8th year, builds community around the art of visual storytelling. The festival celebrates the documentary genre and supports documentary filmmakers both upcoming and established. Community response assures us of a preference and appreciation for quality documentary films. We are known as the ‘art house’ festival presenting 4 days of emerging premieres and award-winning documentaries, shorts, features and student submissions. These fill our “all docs all day” mission coupled with insightful and stimulating Q/A talks after each screening.
Our annual gala event honors legendary documentary filmmakers and have included luminaries such as Richard Leacock, the master of direct cinema; Susan Lacy, creator of WNET/PBS American Masters and currently producing for HBO Documentary; the dynamic and pioneering documentary team of D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus; Barbara Kopple and her 40+year career of Academy-award winning films.
Our Filmmaker’s Choice Award is a peer selection that celebrates one of its own esteemed documentarians. And our Audience Award presents a sponsored cash prize to both the best feature and short films in the festival.
The Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival has carved out a special segment in the film festival dedicated exclusively for middle school and high school students to document and share stories. Screening their films in a theater, on the big movie screen with a live audience is our festival’s way of sprouting careers in media arts.
We are a year-round community presence with seasonal screenings of important documentary films in Spring and Fall. We also launched a very successful Library Outreach program providing festival films to East End libraries to screen for members.