Category Archives: News

Film Festival Alliance to Receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Film Festival Alliance has been approved for a $20,0000 Grants for Arts Projects award from the National Endowment for the Arts to support our efforts in our work in accessibility, advocacy, and community building. FFA is among 1,125 projects across America totaling more than $26.6 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2022 funding.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation with these grants, including Film Festival Alliance, providing opportunities for all of us to live artful lives,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD.

“The arts contribute to our individual well-being, the well-being of our communities, and to our local economies. The arts are also crucial to helping us make sense of our circumstances from different perspectives as we emerge from the pandemic and plan for a shared new normal informed by our examined experience.”

“I am thrilled that Film Festival Alliance has been approved for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Project award from the National Endowment for the Arts,” said FFA Executive Director Barbara Twist. “We look forward to directing it towards our work in accessibility, advocacy, and community building as our festival membership continues to evolve and grow.”

Film Festival Alliance would also like to congratulate our members Ashland Independent Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Cucalorus, Chagrin Documentary Film Festival, Milwaukee Film, Montclair Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, New Orleans Film Society, Sidewalk Film, and SIFF for their grant support from the NEA for their respective projects.

For more information on other projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

Nominations Now Open for FFA Board of Directors

Film Festival Alliance is seeking new Board Members to begin service in January 2022. A slate of candidates will be presented to the membership for voting in January, and they will be announced at the Annual Meeting. Nominations are open now through November 18th. 

Every year, we are excited to welcome a new group of Board members to serve on the Film Festival Alliance Board. The FFA Board members participate in, and advocate for, moving the organization forward, especially as film festivals and the film exhibition industry in general moves towards recovery. The Film Festival Alliance has been a crucial and driving force in the industry, and especially recently as the recovery efforts have also led to discussions of change and sustainability.

You can nominate yourself or another person (with their approval) here.

About joining the board:

• As a non-profit organization, our bylaws state that Board Members must reside in North America (USA, Canada, Mexico) and be at least 21 years-of-age.
• Term of service is 3 years, with an optional second term.
• Meetings are held monthly (12 per year) over zoom.

• Attendance at 75% of monthly Board meetings.
• Participation in one or more Board / event committee(s).
• Recruit or fundraise at a minimum $500 yearly level.

October 18, 2021: Nominations open
November 18, 2021: Nominations closed
December 1, 2021: Proposed slate sent to membership
January 2022 TBD: Announcement of 2022 Board Roster

We are actively looking for Board members to continue to evolve the board makeup to be reflective of various diversities (both of organizations represented – size, geography, scale, form – and humans – race, gender, sexuality, ability). As we move forward into 2022, facing both challenges and incredible opportunity, assuring equity and inclusivity, the fiscal stability of a growing organization, and promotion of the great work we are doing, become even more central.

If you have any questions about board nominations, please feel free to reach out to the FFA team here.

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: El Paso Film Festival

The El Paso Film Festival’s mission is to support and empower the growing community of filmmakers in our bi-national, tri-state region by building a professional foundation of storytellers and artists from which to learn, network, and collaborate. The 4th annual festival kicks off on October 14-17th. Check out or questionnaire below with EPFF’s Artistic Director Carlos Corral.  More details on EPFF are available here.

Tell us a little bit about your festival?

The El Paso Film Festival (EPFF) is the preeminent film festival at the far edge of Texas. The EPFF is the only Texas film festival to showcase emerging filmmakers on a bi-national stage. As one of the fastest-growing film festivals in the state, it provides an inclusive platform where film lovers of every stripe can discover and support the next generation of regional moviemakers. EPFF is among the few festivals in the nation that brings the film’s directors to the audience they entertain. In our short history, we have attracted a diverse audience of film aficionados, passionate storytellers, and filmmaking executives.

What are some things that set your festival apart?

As the flagship film festival in far west Texas, we are leading the growth of a bi-national stage that empowers the new faces of filmmaking. Not only are we the fastest growing festival in the state, we are also the hardest working. Every festival year is an opportunity to create engagement and awareness among professional filmmakers, artists, and audiences across a national platform for filmmaking executives.

How has being a Film Festival Alliance member impacted your organization?

Being a part of the FFA has helped us connect with other festival professionals and programmers and serves as one of the best ways to develop our vision, mission, and goals.

What should every filmmaker know about your festival/organization?

EPFF elevates the creative voice and vision of all filmmakers as they make their path towards the film and television industry by connecting them with seasoned professionals for mentorship and collaborative opportunities. Our efforts are creating a destination event for the region that can stimulate the economy as well as the arts. Bringing films from outside the traditional studio system bucks the status quo with stories and perspectives that challenge us as much as it entertains us.

What kind of programming can someone expect at your festival?

Our festival attracts a diverse audience of film aficionados, passionate story tellers and filmmaking executives of every stripe to the rugged desert of El Paso, Texas. EPFF showcases independent films created in or about the Paso del Norte region. Our bi-national stage provides a platform for emerging directors, writers and actors from West Texas, Southern New Mexico and Northern Mexico.


FilmEx July Sessions Schedule

Join us for two days of thought-provoking, challenging conversations with industry peers and allied thinkers.

Day One: Wednesday, July 14th presented by Eventive

9:30 AM: NEA Accessibility Workshop

The National Endowment for the Arts Accessibility Team, along with filmmakers and festivals, presents information on accessibility standards for film fests.

11:00 AM: WHY-brid? Returning to An IRL Fest

How do we migrate back to in-person events and maintain the importance of physical connection around cinema?

11:00 AM: Definition: Executive Director

Becoming an Executive Director can be the chance of a lifetime to understand your community and how art serves it. In reality, the job description often differs from the actual responsibilities of the role with an ED being expected to wear many more hats. What are the core functions of this leadership role and the universal truths about marrying service and business? As we see a greater turnover of ED positions across our industry, what can we learn from the old guard and how can we look at new models of leadership to ensure that we are educating and nurturing the ED’s of our future?

12:15 PM: Framing the Future: Hiring Your Next Executive Director

With a large number of ED vacancies, we’ll examine best hiring practices from HR and hiring professionals across our own and other industries, about what organizations should be looking for in filling this leadership role.

2:30 PM: Who Should Alan Hire? Designing An Org Chart From the Ground Up

In this hypothetical exercise, Alan LaFave (Hell’s Half Mile) has been given various sums of money to make the first hires for his all-volunteer-run festival. This workshop will allow participants to create a dream org chart from the ground up.

4:15 PM: Peace Out: Do You Believe in Life After Fests?

Leaving a festival, or even the industry, on your own accord or through the decision of others, can be fraught with fear, confusion, and doubt. How do you transfer the incredible skill set developed while running a festival, and learn how to present and adapt them for other sectors of our industry or other industries altogether? We’ll hear from festival folks who’ve made the decision to move on!

5:45 PM: Short Circuit: Maintaining the Spark/Avoiding the Burnout

Join us for an off-the-record conversation around what contract workers hope will change (unionizing?!) as our industry moves forward?


Day Two: Thursday, July 15th presented by Eventhub

10:00AM: Show Me The Money: A Case Study

FFA and New Orleans Film Society will discuss the implementation of payroll and transparency-pay within their organizations.

11:00AM: Actualizing Safety & Belonging: A Case Study From the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

12:15 PM: Accessibility: How to Build An Organizational Culture

1:30PM: Show THEM The Money: Why Filmmaker Compensation Matters

A conversation about the results of FFA & Dear Producer‘s Filmmaker Compensation Survey and why we need to be paying attention to this topic if festivals want to remain critical to independent film distribution.

1:30PM: Bang for Your Buck: The New Social Media

We’ll hear from festivals who’ve gone beyond the traditional socials and are using platforms like Clubhouse, TikTok and Letterboxd to build and engage new audiences. Has it been successful and is it worth your time?

2:45PM: FFA Vendor Roundtable + Bingo

Hear what our vendor partners have been up, what discounts they’re offering to our members, and win some prizes!

4:00PM: Both…And: Thinking Outside the ‘Category’

A continuation of our FilmEx January conversations around programming categories and awards. Are we alienating audiences and filmmakers with tags and labels?

5:15PM: Speed Networking presented by Eventhub

Get to know your fellow FilmExers and film festival folks!

New Ways to Reach FFA

Dear FFA Community,

Our friends and partners at Full Spectrum Features recently introduced us to a book that has changed our lives: Cal Newport’s A World Without Email. In it, Newport outlines many reasons that email is a disastrous distraction for knowledge workers. “People now confuse answering emails with real work,” he writes, and notes that the “hyperactive hive mind” model that we’ve all become so accustomed to (spending most of our days in our inbox or in a tiny Zoom square) actually reduces our capacity to get to work!

The book outlines many ideas and processes for streamlining our communications that should allow us all to become more productive thinkers and workers. After a hectic and exhausting 2020 (but also very focal year for us), we’ve decided to make ourselves a case study and implement some of Newport’s suggestions. (We’ll give you an update at FilmEx in July if we’ve noticed any big changes!) So without further ado, please see below for some of our new processes.

We look forward to increasing the productivity sustainability of our industry together!

Lela, Barbara, Gray

Our new processes for…

Scheduling a meeting with the FFA team: Reach out to us to schedule time to meet within our external meeting hours by coordinating with our Calendly Team account. We’ll also have these linked in our team signatures going forward for easy access.

Dropping in to chat with us:  Have a question for the staff, a general inquiry about the org, or a specific question you’d like to talk through? Spare your inbox and come say hello to the team. One or more of us will always be on hand to chat on Wednesdays from 1:30 – 3:00 P.M. central.

Promotional Requests: We’re happy to promote industry initiatives, partner events, and more. If you have something you would like for FFA to share on our social media, please complete this form. 

Submit a job posting: Are you hiring? Let everyone know by posting your position in our Film Festival Jobs Facebook Group. Paid jobs only!

If you notice something missing or would like to talk to us more about these changes to our culture, feel free to take advantage of these new policies and stop by our office hours this Wednesday to chat!

FFA Endorses Documentary Producers Alliance Letter

The Film Festival Alliance is proud to endorse the Documentary Producer Alliance’s (DPA) initiative to provide a more equitable festival experience for film producers.

The letter below from the DPA outlines the importance of producers, their requests, and why they are valuable members of film teams who deserved to be recognized.

It is our hope all FFA member organizations will consider taking these actionable steps toward change to help improve our industry for all filmmakers. Read the full letter below.


“An Open Letter to Film Festival Programmers, Marketing Directors, and Publicists,

We are reaching out to you as the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA) in the hope that we can turn a new page.

Over the past five years, we have contacted many of you personally, to ask that you include documentary producers, for both features and shorts, in your festival announcements, press releases, and catalogs. While we are immensely grateful to all those who have responded to our requests—DOC NYC, Sundance, Tribeca, and others—we want more film festivals to include producers in their listings and in the full film festival experience.

Producers are the unsung linchpins holding documentary projects and the field together. This normalized absence of recognition for the role we play has wrought genuine harm to our careers, our livelihoods, our mental health, and our imaginations. Your collective recognition will go a long way toward supporting our profession and helping us to be seen as the filmmaking collaborators that we are.

Many people do not understand what producers do. Alongside directors—but often independently—producers develop stories; secure access to participants and locations; write proposals and create decks; raise money; hire DP’s, editors and other creatives; conduct interviews and oversee shoots; ensure that our productions are healthy and safe; mitigate legal risk; liaise with funders, advisors, distributors and sales agents; submit to film festivals; launch and manage impact campaigns, and more.

Producers Are Filmmakers Too.

To recognize the “day-to-day” producers who receive the “Produced By” or “Producer” credit at the time of submission, we ask that you:

  • Include producers in your festival announcements and programs – in advance of and during the event, in print, social media, on your website, and onstage
  • Extend us a badge or pass and include us in our films’ Q&As
  • Include us in your travel and accommodation budgets – we love to support our films in-person
  • Invite us on panels to speak with audiences about the work we do
  • Organize producer gatherings and meet-ups during your festival
  • Include producers in the awards announcements for awards like Audience Award and Best of Fest, and consider adding awards and/or recognition specifically for producers.

Producers and festivals are partners in this magical but messy field of documentary film, and we need each other, deeply, to survive. We are your loyal and faithful champions.

We hope that you will commit to standing with us, too.

With kind regards,

The Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA)”


To launch the initiative, DPA and FFA are jointly hosting a panel discussion with doc producers and a festival director The Festival Experience: Documentary Producers Are Filmmakers Too on April 14, 2021 at 2pm EST/1pm CST/11am PST (archived recording will be available).

Register here: https://bit.ly/3u9ZkdI

Joining the discussion are:
Thom Powers, Festival Director, DOC NYC
Sabrina Gordon, DPA, producer, Quest
Chris Renteria, DPA, producer, Whose Streets?
Rebecca Stern, DPA, producer, Tre Maison Dasan
Barbara Twist, moderator, Associate Director, FFA

2021 Film Festival Leadership Lab Now Accepting Applications!

The Film Festival Leadership Lab (FFLL), a partnership between the Film Festival Alliance and Full Spectrum Features, was created to cultivate a more diverse, informed group of film industry decision-makers, connecting a network of emerging leaders in a field that is often siloed.

Between the systemic inequities of the film industry and the fraught mechanics of nonprofit operations, there are many obstacles for folks who are committed to a career in independent film exhibition. The Lab seeks to offer emerging industry professionals opportunity, education, and connection.

With support from Stephen Sloan, founder of the Humane Leadership Institute (HLI) and board member of the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the FFLL curriculum was designed to equip participants with the techniques and core values of the HLI: fair strength, generative care, and wise balance.

Learn more and apply here. 

2021 Member Event Schedule

Monthly Member Happy Hours!

FFA Member Happy Hours will take place the last Wednesday of each month at 5:30PM CST. Catch up with your peers and mingle with our FFA sponsors as we continue conversations about the ever-changing landscape of 2021.

Happy Hours are scheduled for March 31, April 28, May 26, June 30, July 28, August 25, September 29, October 27, November 17, and December 29, 2021.

Working Groups 2021

The initial brainstorming meeting of the FFA’s Working Groups to Provide Best Practice Guides yielded excellent ideas from our membership. Designed to be living resources for FFA members, by FFA members, the group decided to begin with four main categories: Accessibility, Filmmaker Relations, Human(e) Resources and Logistics. Each of these groups will be spearheaded by volunteer co-chairs, who will meet as a group next to determine the best practices for each working group.

The goal of the working groups (by Dec. 2021):

  • Begin to compile Best Practices resources/documents for membership to live on FFA website members-only page
  • Refine Vision Statements which become the base-level standard for our members (and hopefully industry standard)
  • Identify key industry partners and stakeholders who should be part of these conversations/provide assets
  • Determine how we keep these working groups active and cycle on new members
  • April 2: 4:00pm EST/3:00pm CST/1:00pm PST: Logistics + Humane Resources
  • April 9: 4:00pm EST/3:00pm CST/1:00pm PST: Filmmakers + Accessibility

Learn more about the Working Group Vision Statements and sign-up to participate by visiting our Members Resources section.

2020 Film Festival Organizer, Audience and Filmmaker Survey Results

We’re thrilled to present some key takeaways from our 2020 Film Festival Organizer, Audience, and Filmmaker survey, conducted by Avenue ISR in partnership with The Gotham Film & Media Institute.

These results were initially presented at the 2021 FilmEx Conference.

The objectives of these surveys were:
1.) Understand how key film festival audiences are responding to the moment in 2020.
2.) Learn what is going well for festivals, filmmakers, and audience members…and where there are challenges.
3.) Identify actionable opportunities to strengthen festivals and the festival experience – both live and virtual.

A profound thank you to the 6 festival organizers and 5 filmmakers who participated in in-depth interviews to shape key questions, 18 film festivals who partnered to help field the audience survey, 61 festival organizers, 46 filmmakers, and 2,200 audience members who completed online surveys with detailed and thoughtful responses, and of course our partners at Avenue ISR and The Gotham Film & Media Institute for sponsoring this work.

View Festival Organizer Survey Results and Analysis.

View Filmmaker & Audience Survey Results and Analysis.

Film Festival Alliance Adds Three New Board Members for 2021

The Film Festival Alliance is happy to welcome three new board members, Bears Rebecca Fonte (AGLIFF), Terrence Stern-Enzi, and Leslie Raymond (Ann Arbor Film Festival).

Leslie Raymond, Ann Arbor Film Festival

Media artist and educator Leslie Raymond joined the Ann Arbor Film Festival as its executive director in August 2013. Before that, she founded a New Media Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio and served as assistant professor of art in digital video and new media art at Oakland University, where she was recognized with an Innovations in Teaching award. Raymond excels at organizing special projects that bring together practitioners to advance the conversation around contemporary cinema practice.

tt stern-enzi, Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival

Having spent 20 years as a freelance writer and film critic in the Greater Cincinnati region (covering the film industry & film festivals with the alt-weekly Cincinnati CityBeat and television affiliate Fox19, while earning distinction as an accredited critic on Rotten Tomatoes and membership in the Critics Choice Association), tt stern-enzi began curating film programs at the Mini Microcinema and other regional venues, serving on the advisory board for the University of Cincinnati Center for Film & Media Studies, and developing an educational curriculum for his WatchWriteNow initiative. These efforts have paved the way for tt to step into the role of lead programmer/curator for the rebranded Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival during its first two years before settling into the position of Artistic Director for the 2021 edition.

Bears Rebecca Fonté, All Genders, Lifestyles and Identities Film Festival (AGLIFF)

Bears Rebecca Fonté founded Other Worlds in 2014 after two years as the Director of Programming for AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL. In 2020 Other Worlds was named one of the World’s 50 Best Genre Fest by MovieMaker Magazine. Her SciFi shorts ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE, PRENATAL, and THE SECRET KEEPER have played 150+ festivals including Fantasia, SciFi London, Boston SciFi, FilmQuest, Austin Film Festival, and Dances With Films. Her LGBTQ Horror short CONVERSION THERAPIST made its world premiere at Inside Out in Toronto and US Premiere at aGLIFF. Her feature thriller iCRIME, which she wrote and directed, was released on DVD, VOD, and streaming by Breaking Glass/Vicious Circle Films in 2011. Bears Rebecca also was one of the producers on the Sundance Jury-Award Winning short THE PROCEDURE. Prior to arriving in Austin, she self-produced two web-series that were seen by a combined ten million viewers, wrote coverage for independent producers and coverage services in LA. She has served on the aGLIFF (the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival) for four years, taught for their Queer Youth Media Project, and in 2020, helped guide the virtual pivot as Technical Director. She also represents Northwest Austin on the City of Austin Arts Commission.

FFA Announces FilmEx 2021 Opening Speakers

From January 11-15 2021, Film Festival Alliance, together with our industry partners, will present FilmEx (#FilmEx21), a virtual gathering for film exhibitors of all kinds. FilmEx will present conversations exploring the sustainability and future of the independent film exhibition industry and how it can and might be reimagined. The conference is designed for film festival and art house cinema professionals and our stakeholders.

Today, we’re thrilled to share our line up of conversations that will set the tone of each day of the conference.


Monday, January 11th (10:45 AM MST)

Join Oscar-winning filmmaker John Ridley and his sister/business partner Lisa Caesar in a conversation about their efforts to shift from in-house programming at their Milwaukee-based NO Studios to virtual events over the past year. As we look towards the future, how can an arts organization maintain the audiences and partners around the world that have been cultivated during this unprecedented time while embracing live events again? What will the new normal for programming and events be in 2021 and beyond?


Tuesday, January 12th (10:15 AM MST)

FFA Board Member and Executive Director/Founder of California Film Institute Mark Fishkin, will chat with world-renowned epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant about what cinematic organizations can expect from 2021, a timeline for regathering around film, and his work as a consultant on the movie Contagion.


Wednesday, January 13th (10:15 AM MST)

From Art House to Film Festival, during a pandemic, we’ll hear from Gina, the Producing Director of the Sundance Film Festival, about the changing exhibition landscape.



Friday, January 15th (10:00 AM MST)

Join Gemma Gracewood, Editor-in-Chief of Letterboxd, along with filmmakers Jim Cummings (Thunder Road) and Isabel Sandoval (Lingua Franca), and screenwriter Keith Phipps for a conversation on the evolution of audience building and the changing  landscape of film (from distribution, criticism, and discovery) to be more inclusive and representative of film fans around the world


Along with these opening keynotes, FilmEx is hosting panels, happy hours, and general assemblies packed with some of the leaders in the industry of film exhibition. See the full program and details on registration here. 

2021 SIO Diversity Pass Program Open for Submissions!

For the third year, through a partnership with the Film Festival Alliance, the Sundance Industry Office (SIO) will offer five complimentary and five discounted SIO Industry Passes for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. This opportunity is open to FFA members who identify as historically underrepresented festival professionals in an effort to cultivate diversity within the film festival industry. In 2020, all the recipients were women, four identified as queer, and the group represented African-American, Asian-American, Latina, Afro-Caribbean, Black-Canadian cultures, the Immigrant population, the over-50 population and the disabled community. Of the 10 recipients, 8 were first time Sundance attendees.

All applicants must be current members of FFA, or belong to an organization who is a current member; and may not have received a comp SIO Industry Pass for the 2019 or 2020 Sundance Film Festivals. Follow this link to complete the application by December 1st.

  • If your organization is already an SIO member, you will not need to register through the SIO office, and may still apply to obtain an SIO Pass after October 19th if you are not selected for the Diversity Pass Initiative.
  • If you/your organization is NOT an SIO member, you will also need to email SIO@sundance.org to in addition to filling out the Diversity Pass Program application. If you are selected for the Diversity Pass Initiative, you will automatically be enrolled as an SIO member. If you are not selected for the initiative, you will need to wait for your SIO membership application to be approved in order to purchase a pass
  • For current SIO members, please wait to register for your SIO pass until you have received a decision about your Diversity Pass Initiative application.

2019 Salary Survey Results

Earlier this year, 55 festivals participated in FFA’s second salary survey. The results are in — and instead of a dry report, 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 staff members. There is a table of all All Positions, and each position is further broken down by 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.

Thank you to all of the festivals who participated.

FFA Elects Four New Board Members

The voting membership of Film Festival Alliance has elected four new members to its Board of Directors. Introduced at the 2019 FFA Annual Conference at Art House Convergence, each member represents a varied geographical location and organizational size. Learn more about the new members below, and click here to read more about FFA’s entire Board and Staff. (Pictured clockwise L to R: Erica Thompson, Alyx Picard-Davis, Linda Broker, Kevin Sampson.)

Linda Broker, Rocky Mountain Women’s Film InstituteLinda’s passion for film started when she first volunteered for the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival 23 years ago, serving on the Programming Committee for the film festival, while raising her three young children. Fast forward to today, when Linda, as the Executive Director of what is now the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute, oversees three employees and heads up an active Board and highly dedicated corps of volunteers that provide programming throughout the year, three annual events (in addition to the Festival) and a Filmmakers Retreat. Most recently Linda led efforts to establish the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Institute Endowment, securing the largest single gift ever made to the institute, allowing the organization to expand and plan for its next phase of growth.This year marks the 31st anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, making it the longest-running women’s film festival in North America. The Institute recently moved into a new, expanded location that provides expanded office space and accommodates community screenings.

Alyx Picard-Davis, deadCenter Film Festival: Alyx  is the Festival Director and Director of Operations for deadCenter Film. In its 19th year, deadCenter has grown from a one-night screening of Oklahoma short films to a year-round organization with award-winning programs that provide free film classes to 3,000 high school students each fall, free film seminars for hundreds of working professionals each quarter, free film screenings every month, and an annual film festival that brings 33,000 people to downtown Oklahoma City for the most exciting weekend of the year. A long-time volunteer for the festival in host, events, transportation, and programming, Alyx was hired full-time in 2013. She has worked with budding rock stars at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma, and she currently serves on UCO’s Alumni Board where she graduated with a BA in English-Creative Studies. She worked in the production office on “The Killer Inside Me,” the star-filled serial killer film made in Guthrie, Oklahoma. She co-produced Lance McDaniel’s award-winning film “Swirl,” and the 2017 OKC48 film “Previously on Alley Cats.” She continues to produce and advise on a few short films every year.

Kevin Sampson, DC Black Film Festival: After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, radio show/podcast, and hour long film review TV show. He has served as the director of the Rosebud Film Festival since 2013. He created the DC Black Film Festival in 2016 in an effort to create a space to exhibit quality productions by and about people of African descent. In 2017 Kevin launched Picture Lock PR to represent some of the many great independent films he sees on a regular basis. Kevin received the 2018 Donald H. McGannon Award for his work with women and people of color in media. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association, North Carolina Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. His weekly radio show can be heard on Fridays on WERA 96.7FM.

Erica ThompsonAshland Independent Film Festival: After graduating with a BFA in Film from Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Erica spent three years working in education and hospitality at the Milwaukee Film Festival. In spring of 2017, she took a seasonal role in hospitality at the Ashland Independent Film Festival in sunny Southern Oregon, where she promptly found her calling in festival management and mountain living. In two short years, she has risen to the role of Director of Operations at AIFF and continues to seek innovative opportunities for the organization. AIFF has found great value in the resources and connections FFA has to offer. Erica returns from each Regional Round table Event with a new wealth of knowledge to share with the team, as well as a deepened sense of connection to the field and a revitalized passion for the industry.

FFA Wants to Hear From You!


Following a successful 4th annual conference in conjunction with the Art House Convergence in January, the Film Festival Alliance (FFA) is building on its established foundation to become North America’s preeminent film festival service organization, strengthening this vital segment of the film exhibition industry, and providing even more robust resources to help mission-driven film festivals meet their community needs.

The newly elected Board of Directors includes President Dan Brawley (Cucalorus Film Festival), Vice President Andrew Rodgers (Denver Film Society), Treasurer Anne Chaisson (Hamptons International Film Festival and FFA founding member), Secretary Judy Laster (Woods Hole Film Festival, FFA founding member) and Jon Gann (Founder DC Shorts Film Festival, Past Program Director, FFA.) Members at large include Beth Barrett (SIFF), Clint Bowie (New Orleans Film Society), Mark Fishkin (Califiornia Film Institute) and Josh Leake (Portland Film Festival.)

FFA has hired Lela Meadow-Conner (Tallgrass Film Association) to serve in a consulting role as the Acting Executive Director. A founder of Wichita’s Tallgrass Film Festival, its former Executive Director, and current Creative Director, she brings her entrepreneurial spirit and love of film festivals to the FFA. FFA’s founding members created a strong framework and the group will focus on constructing a productive and valuable organization for all film festival folks. “It’s important to us that we are an inclusive group for all film festival professionals and that we recognize our common threads, and appreciate those characteristics that make every festival unique,” said Meadow-Conner.

“Along with developing the best programming for our 5th annual conference in January, 2018, we’ll be focusing on learning from our members how best we can help service our industry and advocate for film festivals of all sizes and genres across the country,” said Brawley.

We want to hear from you! Tell us how you’d like to see the Film Festival Alliance evolve and better serve your organization. Email Lela @ filmfestivalalliance.org, or 323.810.6909, or email  Dan @ cucalorus.org.

FFA’s 2016 Salary Survey: The Results


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.

Summer 2016: FFA Updates and Transitions



Happy Summer from the Film Festival Alliance!

We have some updates and news we’d like to share, and we’re also looking ahead to our upcoming in-person gatherings, including IFP Film Week in September in Brooklyn and the annual Art House Convergence in Utah in January.

First of all, we’d like to thank Colin Stanfield for the transitional leadership he provided as Interim Executive Director. Over the past eight months, he has guided us through our transformation into a stand-alone entity, creating a framework for membership, sponsorship and board development.

As Colin moves on to new endeavors, we are excited to share that as our new Program Director, Jon Gann will take the lead on (among many other things) both year-round programming and conference planning over the next six months, taking us through Art House Convergence in January. As usual, he is working with a crack team of organizers—if you’re interested in helping out, please let him know.

Over the next six months, we will be transitioning in other ways as well. The current members of the Executive Committee are ready to hand the reins over to those of you ready to step up and take our place. We feel a strong sense of pride in what we have achieved together, but we are excited to bring in new ideas and fresh enthusiasm—we will be looking for people with a broad range of skills to manage our multiple areas of need. So… If you are eager to take on a leadership role within our community, please let one of us know. (Some of you already have, and we will be reaching out!)

We hope to see you all and further our ongoing conversation at the following events:

IFP Film Week (September 17-22, 2016)

Among other programming for festival organizers, we will be hosting an event specifically for our colleagues:
Film Festival Alliance Breakfast and Diversity Talk
Thursday, September 22, 9:00am – 10:30am
All IFP Film Week registrants from film festivals are welcome at this breakfast, which will be followed by a conversation about ensuring diversity across the board at film festivals. We will also be providing more updates on Film Festival Alliance. More details to come!
Learn more about programming for festival professionals and register today!

Art House Convergence (January 16-19, 2017)

For the third year in a row, in conjunction with our art house colleagues, Film Festival Alliance will provide three days of programming with a specific eye towards film festivals. We are very eager to receive your thoughts and ideas on topics, panels, and participation, so please let us know if you’ll attend and how we can shape this conference to best serve you! As we hope you will agree, each year just keeps getting better and better.
Registration is now open!
Early Bird Rate: $525 through December 1
Special rate of $450/pp if you register yourself and two new participants (either from your organization — or others)

We look forward to connecting with you all in the months to come.
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Jody, Anne, Jon, Tom, Deirdre, Kristin & Rosie

FFA at IFP Film Week 2016


What is IFP Film Week?
A week of meetings, screenings, talks, meet ups, exhibitions, and tours centered on cutting-edge independent content for the big screen, small screen and Internet. It’s a neo-post-trans-screen film project and marketplace.

As usual, the 2016 IFP Film Week will include programming of interest to Film Festival folks. Registration is now open! Click this link, use the drop-down “Company Type,” which allows fest programmers to register for a special rate of $250.

Note the exciting new location! This year’s events will take place at IFP’s home base, the Made in NY Media Center, and all over Brooklyn.

IFP Film Week 2016
September 17-22

Brooklyn, NY

Bowling Night Hosted by Amazon Studios

Monday, September 19 (Brooklyn Bowl)
Join fellow industry members and filmmakers at the one and only Brooklyn Bowl!

IFP Filmmaker Labs Showcase

Tuesday, September 20 – 8pm (location TBD)
IFP’s annual outdoor screening, in partnership with Rooftop Films, features excerpts from the twenty films taking part in this year’s Filmmaker Labs. All projects come from first-time directors and are currently in post-production. Last year’s participants went on to premiere at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival, HotDocs, Locarno Film Festival, and many others.

IFP Screen Forward Labs Showcase

Wednesday, September 21 – 8pm (location TBD)
For the first time, IFP presents a new showcase (also done in partnership with Rooftop Films) dedicated to highlighting its newly-created program: the Screen Forward Labs. Beginning in November 2015, the Screen Forward Labs selects groundbreaking serialized content that pushes storytelling forward. Past participants have already gone on to be featured at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, among many others.

Film Festival Alliance Breakfast and Diversity Talk

Thursday, September 22 – 9 to 10:30am (Brooklyn)
All IFP Film Week registrants from film festivals are welcome at this breakfast, which will be followed by a conversation about ensuring diversity across the board at film festivals. We will also be providing more updates on Film Festival Alliance. More details to come!

Meet the Programmers at IFP Film Week

Thursday, September 22
Each year, festival programmers who register to attend Film Week are able to take ten-minute meetings with projects hoping to be on the festival circuit in the coming year. Register now to ensure access to these meetings!

Last Call to Submit to the 2016 IFP Filmmaker Labs

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‘s Pariah (FocusFeatures), and Terence Nance‘s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Variance Films).

Deadline to Apply:  Tuesday, March 1

Join an FFA Committee!


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.


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.


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.


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.

Countdown to Art House Convergence!

The countdown to the 2016 Art House Convergence is ON!

We’re looking forward to seeing SO many of you Monday in Midway, UT. To make sure you are fully prepared for the jam-packed agenda put together by the stellar Film Festival Alliance Programming Team, please study the following, and make room in your carry-on for the requested “bring-alongs.” It takes a village festival to raise a convergence… or something like that.

Download the agenda here.

Or click to see the entire agenda (only first page displayed):


Click to keep reading…

AMPAS Relaunches Grants Programs

Excellent news! The Academy for Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) has announced that its grants programs for film festivals, educational programs and film scholars are back in play.


FilmWatch grants support curated screening programs at North America-based film festivals, film societies and other film-related organizations…

FilmCraft grants support high-quality educational programs that identify and empower future filmmakers from nontraditional backgrounds…

Academy Film Scholars grants are awarded to previously published individuals who are pursuing significant new works of film scholarship…

Read all about it on the AMPAS site!

2015 Film Festival Alliance @ IFP Film Week Agenda Announced

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.

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. 

AFI DOCS Seeks Head Programmer

The American Film Institute is seeking candidates for Head Programmer for its annual documentary film festival, AFI DOCS. AFI DOCS is a five-day international documentary film festival that takes place at landmark venues in Washington, DC, and the world-class AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, MD.

The Head Programmer is responsible for curating film programs for the annual festival and year-round programming, overseeing the festival’s film submissions and selection process, as well as editorial content for AFI DOCS publications and other communication. The Head Programmer also collaborates with the AFI DOCS team on special events during the festival and throughout the year.

For a detailed job description, qualifications and application information, please visit this link.

Festival Alliance Programming Set for Art House Convergence 2016

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!

AHC flyer 2AHC flyer 3AHC flyer 4

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

The ARTery Previewed Art House Convergence in Boston This Week!

Thanks to The ARTery for previewing this week’s Art House Convergence Regional Conference, held at the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA.


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.”

Read the whole article here.


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.

AHC Boston 1 AHC Boston 2 AHC Boston 3

We look forward to seeing many of you at IFP Film Week and the national Art House Convergence in January.

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!

WATCH: Case Study Webinar on Annual Report as Ultimate Marketing Tool

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…

Registration Still Open for IFPFF @ Art House Convergence Regional Seminar

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.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Pre-Seminar Events

Daytime: Tours!

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 jodyarlington@mac.com if you would like to participate in this dinner (location TBD; pay your own way, first drink on us!).

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Regional Seminar

8:00AM – 9:00AM: Check-in and Register

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
 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.

Registration is now open. Hope to see you in Boston!

On the Horizon: IFP Film Week, Art House Convergence 2016

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

Member Profile: Jacqui Lofaro, Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Festival

Jacqui Lofaro

Jacqui Lofaro is the Founder and Executive Director of the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Festival (HT2FF). 

An award-winning documentary filmmaker based in Bridgehampton, Long Island, New York, Jacqui Lofaro produced/directed The Empty Chair: Death Penalty Yes or Nothe recipient of the 2006 prestigious Thurgood Marshall Broadcast Journalism Award. The companion documentary 70 x 7: the Forgiveness Equation was invited for screening at the National Coalition Against the Death Penalty conference, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and the Global Peace Film Festival. In 2009, The Last Fix: An Addict’s Passage from Hell to Hope, a feature documentary on drug addiction, a problem of epic proportion, premiered at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

What are you working on?

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.

A-Ha Moment

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.

In Training

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.

My Mentor

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.

Biggest Challenge

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.

Best Advice

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.

About HT2FF

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.

Member Profile: Anisa Raoof, Providence Children’s Film Festival

Anisa Raoof

Anisa Raoof is the Executive Director of the Providence Children’s Film Festival (PCFF). 

Anisa has a passion for film, design, community, and education. A firm believer in the power of collaboration, Anisa brings her entrepreneurial experience, social media savvy, and love for storytelling and moving images to her new job as Executive Director of the Providence Children’s Film Festival.

What are you working on?
Planning the 2016 festival: everything including the marketing, scheduling, new venue logistics, special event planning, fundraising, forming new community partnerships, grant writing, training new contract staff and finding a way to make an 8-day week.

A-Ha Moment
My a-ha moment was deciding whether to apply for the job as Executive Director of an organization that was in transition, moving from an all working volunteer board to a more sustainable model of staff and board just six months before the 2014 Festival. I had been a media partner of the festival since it started and a board member for 2 1/2 years.

Nervous about the challenges of limited resources and a festival to plan, but excited by the unique opportunity to help lead an organization and popular family film festival that was poised to make long lasting impact on the community, I seized the moment and applied for the position. Less sleep these days but no regrets.

In Training
Having no formal film or business training, I gathered my experience along the way from past entrepreneurial community building projects and learning from others in formal and informal settings. I have been passionate about film and creative storytelling since I was child.

Equipment/Software Must Haves
Laptop, iPhone, Dropbox, Vimeo, and a good cup of coffee.

My Mentor
My elementary school art teacher was joyful, colorful, and passionate about art. She created a space in her classroom that was welcoming, educational and inspiring. She shared her enthusiasm for life, her knowledge of the craft, how to work well with others, and the behind-the-scenes responsibilities needed to make the magic happen. The skills I learned from her—a good work ethic, a positive attitude, her creative energy and the fact she seemed to live and do what she loved—have stayed with me.

Biggest Challenge
My biggest challenge was trying to plan the 2014 festival after being officially on the job six months while navigating an organizational change… while raising money to cover staffing and the festival. It was crazy, but in the end the festival was a success and the attendees thought everything was flawless!

In general the challenge is doing what we do on a shoestring and learning the job along the way. We have relied mainly on volunteers since the beginning and only within the last 2 years have we added some part-time staff (who technically do not work part-time…). We do not own our venues for the festival but rely on renting spaces, working with other organizations and dealing with crazy winter weather.

Best Advice
Surround yourself with smart, passionate, enthusiastic people who love what they do and good things will happen. Life is too short to be around negative people who do not believe in what they do or strive for excellence whenever possible. Also: partnerships are important—when paired well, collaborations can elevate / amplify what we do rather than compete / detract from our mission.

To broaden the reach of our programming beyond February, we have cultivated and expanded collaborations with peer organizations in Rhode Island to provide screenings and other opportunities for youth to learn from and engage with film. Youth-oriented partner organizations include AS220, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence, Providence Children’s Museum, Providence CityArts, Providence Athenaeum Children’s Library, Rhode Island Museum of Science and Arts (RIMOSA), Providence Community Library, RIOLIS, and the RISD Museum.

About PCFF

PCFF presents the best of independent and international children’s cinema to inspire, delight, educate, and connect a diverse community of children and families from Rhode Island and throughout New England. The annual festival takes place in February at multiple venues within walking distance of downtown Providence, with over ten days of screenings, film-making workshops, and free activities, along with post-film conversations that help deepen the film-watching experience and foster critical thinking skills. During the festival, PCFF screens an average of 18 feature-length and over 100 short films—including live-action, documentary, and animation—made by filmmakers from around the world.

Beginning in 2014, PCFF added the Youth Filmmaker Showcase, a juried program of films made by youth, followed by an opportunity for young filmmakers to talk about both the fun and the challenges they face during the creative process.

In addition to the annual festival, the organization partners and/or collaborates with a growing number of community youth organizations to offer year-round educational opportunities, where children and families can learn about the history of the medium and its critical context, as well as the craft of filmmaking, through after-school programs, hands-on workshops, and film-related presentations.

Read This: ‘Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Arts Management’

“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.

WATCH: Wrap Reports Webinar

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…

Membership Case Study: Advocacy (Woods Hole Film Festival)

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!

WATCH: Sponsorship Webinar

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!):

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…

Takeaways: Art House Convergence 2015

If you weren’t able to join us at the 2015 Art House Convergence in Midway, Utah (or even if you were!), please check out the following takeaways from our roundtable discussions, panels, and more. (More materials will be added as they become available.)

Roundtable Discussions (downloadable PDFs)

♦ Social Media & Guerrilla Marketing (& Merchandise!)

♦ Board Issues

♦ Staffing Issues

♦ Small Budgets, Big Events

♦ Ticketing Solutions

♦ Publications

♦ Sponsorship

Legal Clinic

♦ Listen on Soundcloud

Social Media Documents

Social Media for Filmmakers (sample)

Social Media for Sponsors (sample)

Social Media for Staff (sample)

Join us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for ongoing learning and conversations…

WATCH: Wrangling the Rush Line Webinar

In our February webinar, Tom Hall (currently at Montclair Film Festival, formerly at Sarasota, among others) walked us through the delicate balance of line wrangling, including rush ticket policies, volunteer training, etc.

Wrangling the Line: Rush Tickets, Waitlists and More

Tickets, passes, packages, VIPs and sold out screenings—making sure you maximize your audience and keep them happy is the key to a successful festival. This discussion will focus on decisions and strategies for helping you manage your lines and patrons, making sure you have smiling customers and full theaters!

In case you missed it, check out the full webinar, archived on YouTube (scroll to 3:17 for the actual start!):

Takeaway: download the PDF presentation here.

Check out the full range of our archived webinars here, and please join us for our next webinar:

Sponsorship: Finding the Right Partners

Tuesday, March 31
2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT
Moderator: Anne Chaisson, Hamptons International Film Festival

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

Indiewire: Essential Festival Tips for Filmmakers

Indiewire recently posted a round-up of all their advice for filmmakers when it comes to festivals, including the application process, preparing for your first festival, and even what to do if you want to start your own fest! It’s worth checking out…

There are countless film festivals out there, but which one is the right one for you? And once you get accepted to a film festival, what’s the next step? Let Indiewire serve as your resource to film festivals. Below you’ll find articles covering everything you’ll need to know from how and where to apply, to what festivals expect from you and how to follow-up after the festival’s over.

Read the whole post here. 

Indiewire: Why Filmmakers Need the Festival Forum

In a recent post for Indiewire, IFP Festival Forum Executive Committee member Deirdre Haj outlines the work that we do and makes the case for why festivals are a crucial piece of the filmmaking ecosystem. We’ve excerpted a few key quotes below, but please find the entire article here.


“I am proud to say that the 200 members of the IFP Festival Forum (soon to be a stand alone organization called the Film Festival Alliance) believe in collaboration, not competition, and this is a very good thing for filmmakers on the festival circuit and for the audiences who come to see films.”


“Up until now, there has been no formal way for film festival professionals to communicate and learn from one another on a consistent basis.”


“The film festival circuit in the United States is vibrant, healthy and a more powerful distribution tool for independent film than a short run in New York or LA.”


“The plethora of established and humming film festivals in the United States is testament to the fact that audiences still want to see films together in a theater, and if they can hear from the filmmaker firsthand, they will come and pay to do so.”


“The Festival Forum will work to make sure that the filmmaker experience is the best one possible, and that our fellow festival organizers have the tools and resources to deliver the best event for them and their audiences. That’s why we do our jobs in the first place.”


More from Indiewire.

Film Festivals Converged with Art Houses at High Altitude

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? If you’re like us, you’re still on a (re-oxygenated) high from the jam-packed trip to the mountains of Utah—a double dose of Art House Convergence and Sundance. If you’re lucky, you avoided the Park City Flu, and came back refreshed and ready to tackle another productive year of festival planning…

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we want to thank you all for your enthusiastic participation, your friendly good nature, and your endless stream of ideas. We always learn so well from each other—our collective knowledge is unstoppable—and we are energized by the camaraderie that comes from sharing our experiences. (It’s so good to know we are not alone!)

What came out of our Convergence? In addition to friendships forged and renewed, we have a few big announcements to share:

1. In the coming months, our organization will make the transition to an independent and vocal organization with a new name: we will soon become the Film Festival Alliance. As a community, we will benefit from strength in numbers as we advocate for best practices and symbiotic relationships with filmmakers and distributors.

2. What’s more, membership in the Film Festival Alliance just got a bit sweeter: entertainment legal eagles Michael Donaldson and Corey Field have offered their services as a first line of defense, should any of our member organizations face an unforeseen legal hurdle. This is huge.

Reminder: If you have not yet officially joined the IFP Festival Forum, what are you waiting for? (Membership will transition to the new organization automatically.)

During our time together, our panels—including a legal clinic from Donaldson and Field—covered the gamut, from rush lines to hospitality to Oscars to board management and beyond. Our roundtable discussions were especially fruitful this year, centering on topics such as social media, sponsorship, ticketing, tech, the (dreaded) program guide, and making the most of a small budget.

Once we got to Park City, we of course reconvened in line for Press & Industry screenings, and gathered more formally at what has becoming an annual tradition: our colleagues at the Sundance Film Festival showed off their terrific hospitality, hosting festival organizers at an intimate brunch last Tuesday. (Thank you!)

All of these conversations will continue throughout the year; we’re just getting started. In the weeks to come, we will compile the learnings from our various sessions, sharing the wealth with those who weren’t able to attend and serving as a concrete refresher (and to-do list) for the rest of us. Please stay tuned, and keep in touch on Facebook and Twitter, in addition to the comments selection below.

We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it’s easier to do it together. Happy New Year!

Join the Forum!

We’re looking for a few good festivals.

If we’ve learned anything over the past several years, it’s the fact that our power comes from our diversity: small festivals, large festivals, year-round showcases, three-day events. Each and every one of our member festivals brings something to the table, and we all learn best when learning from each other.

As we move into our next phase of existence (as the Film Festival Alliance; read more here), we know that strength in numbers is key. That means we need YOU.

Click here to join today!

What are you waiting for? Join today. Note: Membership will transition to the new organization automatically.

We can’t wait to have you (officially) on board!

Webinars to Dive Deeper into Roundtable Topics: Save the Dates

Are we all in agreement that the roundtables at Art House Convergence gave us barely enough time to scratch the surface on the juicy topics we tackled? We hope so, because we’ve lined up our next couple of webinars, where we hope to dive a little deeper and share some of our best practices around popular issues.

Please mark your calendars and look for further details in your inbox in the coming weeks.

Wrangling the Line: Rush Tickets, Waitlists and More

Tuesday, February 24
2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT
Moderator: Tom Hall, Montclair Film Festival

Sponsorship: Finding the Right Partners

Tuesday, March 31
2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT
Moderator: Anne Chaisson, Hamptons International Film Festival

Registration for all webinars is free; detailed instructions will be mailed when you RSVP.

Festival Operational Survey: Initial Findings + It’s Not Too Late to Participate!

Last fall we launched our first Annual Festival Operational Benchmark Survey, designed as an invaluable tool for our organization as we move forward into our new iteration as the Film Festival Alliance (read more!). Most importantly:

Who are we? What do we value? What can we learn? What can we contribute?

So far, we’ve started to see some interesting trends. We are curious to see how these change as we gather more data:

While we have gathered initial findings from our first round of participants*, we would like to round out our sample even more. To that end, we have extended the survey deadline to April 15. If you have not done so, please complete the survey before that date. .

The survey results will be an invaluable tool as the Alliance moves forward, and we need maximum participation. Though most industries conduct surveys of this kind, our industry never has, and the results will be instrumental for many of you to apply for grants, negotiate with sponsors, build your boards, and drive strategic and operational decision-making.

Remember, we are only looking for only one submission per festival. While you are working on the survey, you can stop at any time and come back to it later. The survey program will resume wherever you last stopped.

Click here to go directly to the survey!

*Thanks a million to those members who participated in the first round. Initial participants were eligible for festival passes and cash awards, and winners included Napa Valley Film Festival, Berkshire International Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Human Rights Watch Film Festival and Frameline!

Transparency Project Announced: How Can We Help?

As the landscape of the business side of filmmaking—distribution, platforms, revenue streams—becomes more and more murky, Sundance Institute, Cinereach, and other organizations have launched The Transparency Project to counteract the complexity. Recently previewed at Art House Convergence and launched at Sundance, IFP Festival Forum has come on board as a collaborator in this nonprofit initiative, which explains itself with the following motto:

We empower filmmakers by creating tools to analyze independent films’ financial data.

As Anne Thompson outlines in her detailed piece introducing the project, the “goal is to collect and share current data on both revenue and expenses for independent film distribution in order to help filmmakers be more creative and efficient in funding, marketing and releasing their work.”

For the project to actually work, the filmmaking community (filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors—including film festivals, where applicable) needs to participate by submitting data about individual projects, specific production factors, and detailed revenue numbers.

So far, the following non-profits have come on board as collaborators, in addition to IFP Festival Forum:

Arthouse Convergence |Austin Film Society | Britdoc | IDA | IFP | ITVS | The Film Collaborative | FIND | POV | San Francisco Film Society | Tribeca Film Institute |WGA East | Film Society of Lincoln Center

In addition, the following “for-profit distributors and industry leaders have expressed their support of mission”:

Alchemy | Amplify | Bond 360 | Brainstorm | Cinedigm | Cinetic | Film Movement | Ocilloscope | Paladin | Preferred | Premiere Digital Services | Radius | Roco | Tribeca Film | Vimeo | VHX

For the project to take root and succeed in empowering the film community, all parties must agree to provide input. “The website is still being designed and updated,” Thompson explains, “but the idea is to fill in your budget and cast levels and genres, and when relevant, reviews and festival exposure, to see what numbers comparable projects obtained using different release platforms. The numbers will not—initially—reflect individual returns on iTunes, Hulu, Amazon etc., but rather throw them all into the same online platform bucket.”

We encourage all IFP Festival Forum members to become more acquainted with the project. Together, we can make a collective difference.

First step: Please read Anne Thompson’s full article by clicking on the following image.

Second, sign up for their mailing list, and get involved.

And please: let us know what you think, either via the comments section below, on Facebook or Twitter, or via email.

Happy Holidays!

Happy holidays to all our festival friends and family!

In the coming year, we look forward to many more opportunities to learn, grow and network together.

Wishing you and your colleagues a fruitful 2015 of healthy growth, increased budgets, enthusiastic audiences, and award-winning films… What more could a festival ask for?

— IFP Festival Forum

WATCH: Budgeting Webinar

In the August 2014 webinar, we tackled the intricacies of budgeting for your festival, and we enlisted two of the best in the business to give you the lowdown:

Budgeting Essentials: Making it All Add Up

The Festival Forum budgeting webinar helps to demystify the world of budgeting and provide participants with the techniques and confidence to manage and control their budget effectively. Financial terms and budgeting concepts are explained in a way that festival professionals will immediately be able to apply to their own organizations.

Lesli Klainberg, Executive Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center, and Colin Stanfield, Producer, New York Film Festival, uses “real life” examples and case studies in this interactive seminar.

Watch the archived version of the webinar here:

Have an idea for a future webinar? Email kristin@mccrackhouse.com

The IFP Festival Forum was founded in an effort to connect members of the film festival community in a dynamic and engaged conversation around the work we do. In order for us to develop a tried-and-true set of best practices—allowing the smallest festival to be just as successful as the behemoth—we have to talk to each other and share our knowledge. Independent Film Week in September and the Art House Convergence in January are two places where these conversations happen, but how can we keep talking all year long?

Please check out the IFP Festival Forum on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Are You Deploying Effective Practices for Successful Audience Engagement?

Film Festivals, like arts organizations across the country, are experimenting with new ways to fulfill their missions and keep—if not expand—their audiences, at a time when consumers have more choices than ever before. The Wallace Foundation recently partnered with the American Alliance of Museums and six other nonprofit arts service organizations to share the principles for reaching and retaining new audiences in The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences, by Bob Harlow. Following are some excerpts from the report, courtesy of our AAM colleagues:

Recognizing When Change Is Needed.
Organizations saw a pattern of audience behavior that presented an opportunity or a challenge for their financial viability, artistic viability, or both. They recognized that change was necessary to seize this opportunity or overcome the challenge. In some cases, the urgency of the challenge or opportunity actually served the initiative by keeping it front and center, capturing and sustaining the attention of the entire organization over the years needed to build a following.

Determining What Kinds of Barriers Need to Be Removed.
Successful organizations identified the types of barriers impeding the target audience’s participation and shaped their strategies accordingly.

Thinking Through the Relationship.
Some case study organizations went so far as to spell out a vision of the relationship they wanted to cultivate with the new audience, including specific roles for the audience and themselves. By doing so, they gave their audience-building initiatives structure and a sense of purpose. Leaders and staff members understood how they wanted the audience to interact with their organization and developed programs to fulfill that vision.

Providing Multiple Ways In.
Staff expanded the ways people could access their organizations both literally and psychologically. Many organizations provided gateway experiences to acquaint newcomers with their activities. Others generated interest by making connections to things that their target audience already knew or by showing them different sides of their institutions.

Check out the full report: The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences.

Have a success story? We’d love to share it with the wider festival audience.
Drop us a line at info@ifpfestivalforum.org.

IFP Festival Forum Responds to DOJ Proposal on ADA Compliance in Movie Theaters

In response to the recent proposal by the Department of Justice that “would explicitly require movie theaters to exhibit movies with closed captioning and audio description at all times and for all showings…,” the IFP Festival Forum has submitted the following comment. 

(You can download the full comment here.)

Before the
Department of Justice

In the Matter of Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations—Movie Theaters; Movie Captioning and Audio Description 



)   CRT Docket No. 12

)   AG Order No. 3449-2014

)   RIN 1190-AA63






Submitted By:
Jody Arlington
Acting Director
IFP Festival Forum
3121 South Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
November 29, 2014


The IFP Festival Forum is a professional association that advocates for the needs and interests of Film Festivals and their organizers. We provide a collaborative platform for members to develop and share operational and curatorial efficiencies, set professional standards, and establish best practices. The Forum serves the collective priorities of its membership while leveraging its leadership, expertise, and vision within the international film community and the broader cultural landscape. Founded in 2010, the Forum serves more than 200 U.S. & International festival programmers and executives.

We are also tightly knit with a coalition of filmmaker organizations devoted to the support and advocacy of independent documentary and narrative filmmaking and the media arts, which serves over 400,000 filmmakers and media professionals nationwide.

While there is not a definitive number of Film Festivals in the United States, a recent study calculated 2,000 US Festivals, representing 40% of the approximately 5,000 global film festivals[1].

Similarly, the definition of a film festival is also not settled, but for the purposes of this comment, a festival can be as ambitious as a month long event screening hundreds of films in twenty theaters across a city or region, to a one to three day event in a library, university, convention center, hotel ballroom or outdoor tent.

The current proposed rule would explicitly require movie theaters to exhibit movies with closed captioning and audio description at all times and for all showings whenever movies are produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with captioning and audio description unless to do so would result in an undue burden or fundamental alteration to serve patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing or blind or have low vision.

Film Festivals by their very nature want to attract the widest audiences possible, and are supportive of the widest availability of technologies and training that will support accessibility to cinema for all Americans. But as written, without clarity for film festivals, the order could potentially create undue financial and logistical burdens on festivals, or result in destabilizing uncertainty among the field, non-traditional theatrical venues, filmmakers and audiences.

Film Festivals often provide a platform for independent filmmakers to find an audience and distribution. Therefore the Film Festival exhibition can take place before the film has received funding. Once a film has attended a Film Festival and is fortunate enough to be acquired by a distribution entity the film may go through several edits before being ready to present in a commercial setting. We laud the DOJ for not requiring festivals to bear the cost of encoding for closed captioning nor place this cost on independent filmmakers, which could lead festivals to reject most films due to time and finances. In any of these circumstances, this would represent an undue burden on both the Film Festivals and independent filmmakers.

We respectfully urge the DOJ to consider the following actions to ensure the new rules, which we support for commercial theaters, do not inadvertently stifle film festival culture, or create needless misunderstandings within the film festival industry, their vendors and audiences.

The DOJ should consider explicitly exempting film festivals to prevent undue logistical and financial burdens, or confusion about compliance for temporary exhibition events.

Most film festivals, even those that are presented under the direction of a year-round non-profit film society, institute or even art house theater, face intense logistical challenges as these events come together at the last minute, usually four to five weeks before opening, with short term temporary and volunteer festival staff. Most films are presented before they have been acquired for distribution and are not encoded with closed captioning and/or audio. But sometimes they are encoded. While every effort might be made to schedule an encoded film in an accessible-ready theater, the realities of scheduling are based on filmmaker availability to attend, size of theater appropriate for the anticipated popularity of the film, and even managing different exhibition capabilities and film lengths across multiple venues. The rule as written would not exempt a festival from showing an accessible coded film in a non-accessible theater, which might result in the film not being programmed, or otherwise unduly influence the artistic choices of programmers who are best suited to cater to the interests and needs of their local audiences.

The DOJ should make explicit much earlier in the rule its definition of a movie theater to include only “facilities used primarily for the purpose of showing movies to the public for a fee” to prevent festivals, temporary venues and even audience confusion.

Currently, festival organizers, venue operators and audiences discover that the rule doesn’t apply to temporary venues only after reading through the DOJ’s history of the moving image, analysis of audiences, financial models, and technical descriptions of equipment and systems for the blind, deaf, low-vision, or low-hearing audiences.

The majority of film festivals rely on more than just movie theaters. They utilize hotel ballrooms, armories, convention centers, tents, outdoor screens and even cafés for venues. We applaud the DOJ for recognizing and exempting these temporary venues, so that libraries, hotels and convention centers that rarely show films will continue to make their venues available to festivals and other exhibitions without undue burden. More clarity on this point ensures that these venues continue to make themselves available to festivals, and festivals make films available to the widest audiences.

The DOJ should calculate audiences by average attendance, not available seats, when determining how many devices a venue should purchase.

Festivals work hand in hand with their venues, whether art houses, commercial theater chains or alternative venues. We echo the Art House Convergence and National Association of Theater Owners concerns on the formula that the DOJ currently deploys to determine number of devices for theaters. It should not be based on number of seats, but on average daily weekend attendance, to reflect actual audiences, not maximum potential audiences. The current calculation by number of seats per theater to calculate number of required devices leads to unnecessary expenditures without providing any real enhancement of accessibility for the disabled. Yet that money is critically important to Festival groups and art houses that have small budgets and need more money to promote their important mission.

For its part, the Festival Forum will explore best practices for our members to better communicate on accessibility issues with their audiences, and train temporary staff in the use of equipment in venues where they might be called upon to assist with the operation of such devices. We would support any efforts to help independent filmmakers afford encoding so that larger audiences can experience their films.

[1] See Fallows, Stephen, The Truths Behind Film Festivals (2013), available at stephenfollows.com/film-festivals-pt1-the-truths-behind-film-festivals/

Art House Convergence Schedule Live Today!

The Art House Convergence full schedule is now live, and you don’t want to miss this year’s event. We’ve programmed the sessions based on your interests and are commingled across the conference. We’ve pulled out some of the festival-specific programming below.


Festival-Specific Programming

Welcome Keynote
Tuesday, January 20 | 9:00 – 9:50 a.m.

New to the Conference? New to the Art House and Festival Forum world? Come meet some of your fellow colleagues in this informal session about how to get the most out of your four days of the 2015 Art House Convergence.
With Russ Collins (Michigan Theater), Stephanie Silverman (Belcourt Theater) and Jody Arlington (IFP Festival Forum).

Festival Roundtables
Tuesday, January 20 | 10:00 – 10:50 a.m.
Join your peers at one of the structured Roundtable discussions. Every day, topics will be discussed at multiple tables, each moderated by a member of the Festival Forum. Notes will be shared among all Art House Convergence attendees. Bring your best tips and suggestions, as well as the tough issues you want addressed.

•  Social Media and Guerrilla Marketing
•  Tech and Projection Issues
•  Board Activation and Staff Motivation

Festivals and Oscars: A Dynamic Duo
Tuesday, January 20 | 3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

Festivals have become the default distribution model for most independent films. Learn how the Oscars, together with key events, help to extend the buzz for many films—and how your event can benefit from the national exposure.
With Tom Oyer, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Festival Roundtables
Tuesday, January 20 | 4:00 – 4:50 p.m.
Join your peers at one of the structured Roundtable discussions. Every day, topics will be discussed at multiple tables, each moderated by a member of the Festival Forum. Notes will be shared among all Art House Convergence attendees. Bring your best tips and suggestions, as well as the tough issues you want addressed.

•  Ticketing Solutions
•  Big Events with Small Budgets
•  Mastering the Beast: The Program Guide
•  Sponsors and Partnerships

Beyond the Hospitality Suite
Wednesday, January 21 | 10:00 – 10:50 a.m.

What does being a “filmmaker-friendly festival” really mean? Come learn how to win the adoration of filmmakers, and you’ll discover the key to strengthening your festival’s reputation, increasing submissions, and attracting new sponsors.
With Clint Bowie (New Orleans Film Festival), Dan Brawley (Cucalorus Film Festival), Tracy Lane, (True/False), and moderator Jolene Pinder (New Orleans Film Festival).

Mastering the Rush Line and Managing Audience Expectations
Wednesday, January 21 | 3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

You programmed so many fabulous films that there are no seats remaining! The challenge of managing audiences goes far beyond queuing them in line. And for those who can’t get in, or did and were disappointed, your ability to accommodate might be the key to future successes. Panelists to be announced. Led by Gary Meyer, Telluride Film Festival.

Legal Clinic
Wednesday, January 21 | 4:00 – 4:50 p.m.

From human resource issues in your office to verifying music clearances to protecting your event from feuding filmmakers, all festivals need to consider the legal ramifications of their actions. Learn from festival-savvy attorneys about recent challenges—and bring your own concerns for discussion. With Corey Field, Ballard Spahr (Sundance); Michael Donaldson, Donaldson + Callif, LLP (Los Angeles Film Festival); and Deirdre Haj (Full Frame Documentary Festival).

Festival Roundtables
Wednesday, January 21 | 5:00 – 5:50 p.m.
Join your peers at one of the structured Roundtable discussions. Every day, topics will be discussed at multiple tables, each moderated by a member of the Festival Forum. Notes will be shared among all Art House Convergence attendees. Bring your best tips and suggestions, as well as the tough issues you want addressed.

•  Topics TBA
•  (Will repeat most popular ones from prior sessions)

Festival Forum’s Future
Thursday, January 22 | 10:00 – 10:30 a.m.

The annual meeting for the Festival Forum allows for paid members to nominate and vote on new Board and Committee members—and for all in attendance to have the opportunity to comment on what YOU want from the organization.

Other combined Festival Forum-Art House Convergence panels include:

Social Media Metrics
Tuesday, January 20 | 3:00 – 3:50 p.m.

Twitter and Instagram have become some of the fastest growing platforms for local business marketing. We will be going over 9 in-depth strategies for using Twitter and 17 in-depth strategies for using Instagram in your theater. There will be case studies presented from both the exhibitor and the film festival point of view on the topic. We will also allow time at the end for questions and answers. With Sean Wycliffe (Dealflicks); Chris Collier (Renew Theaters); and Jon Gann (DC Shorts).

A Different Audience: Managing Your Board
Wednesday, January 21 | 2:00 – 2:50 p.m.

As a non-profit, your interactions with your Board are much different than your interactions with your daily audience and yearly donors. How do you manage these Board relationships effectively to yield the Board involvement you would like? With both festival and art house representation, hear from four panelists on how they manage expectations, encourage involvement, and build trust with their boards. With Colin Stanfield (New York Film Festival) and Dylan Skolnick (Cinema Arts Centre).

Check out the full schedule here.

Hope to see you in Utah!

Remember to use code IFP2015 to receive the early bird registration rate through December 31. Register here. 

BE COUNTED: Last Chance for the Film Festival Operational Survey

Only 12 days left to fill out the First Annual Festival Operational Benchmark Survey and be eligible for the drawing for complimentary Sundance or Toronto Film Festival Industry passes, Art House Convergence passes and five $100 cash awards.

The survey results will be an invaluable tool as the Forum moves forward, and we need maximum participation. Though most industries conduct surveys of this kind, our industry never has, and the results will be instrumental for many of you to apply for grants, negotiate with sponsors, build your boards, and drive strategic and operational decision-making.

Please complete the survey no later than November 30th in order to be eligible for the giveaway. While you are working on the survey, you can stop at any time and come back to it later. The survey program will resume wherever you last stopped.

Click here to go directly to the survey!

WATCH: Ticketing & Data Mapping Webinar

If you missed the November 5 webinar on Ticketing & Data Mapping, you’re in luck! We’ve archived it for posterity for all to enjoy.

In this webinar from IFP Festival Forum, Jon Gann, impresario for Cine and DC Shorts, provides tips and tools to to mine the data you (don’t know you) already have for insights into how to better reach and serve your audience. Take a deep (and we mean deep!) look into data gathering from your ticketing software and audience surveys to create interactive maps, which can be used to plan for effective marketing and secure sponsors.

Topline? In this session, Jon walks us through:
• Online tools that will give you insights into customer management
• How to use the data you know to better target people more likely to attend your event

Enjoy! And please leave a comment below to let us know what you think. Thanks!

Want more webinars just like this? Visit our YouTube channel for archived editions, and sign up for our IFP Festival Forum Newsletter (scroll to the bottom of this page) to stay in the know about upcoming events. 

Not a member yet? Join IFP Festival Forum today!

IFP Festival Forum Asks Academy to Reconsider Festival Grant Freeze

In an exclusive post, The Wrap reports on IFP Festival Forum’s open letter to The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences:

IFP Festival Forum asks Academy to reconsider its freeze on grant programs that fund almost two dozen festivals.

The Independent Feature Project’s IFP Festival Forum has become the latest group to protest possible cuts in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ grant programs, sending a letter to the AMPAS Board of Governors asking the Academy to continue its grants and recognize “the critical role of festivals.”

As TheWrap reported exclusively on Oct. 9, the Academy has halted almost all of its educational, grant and internship programs and is considering cutting back or eliminating programs as it gears up to break ground on its expensive Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

“We cannot overstate the power and impact of the AMPAS imprimatur on festivals’ ability to leverage that stamp of approval for greater engagement from sponsors, donors and even local and state governments,” reads part of the IFP Festival Forum letter, which was signed by eight festival directors and given exclusively to TheWrap.

“Concomitantly, we cannot stress enough the positive impact for the field by festivals striving to attain the standards of excellence, professionalism and artistic vision to be considered eligible for an AMPAS grant.”

The Festival Forum letter has been emailed, mailed and faxed to the Academy between Friday and Monday. It is signed by the forum’s executive committee, which is headed by acting director Jody Arlington and made up of directors at the Sundance Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival. It follows a similar letter sent to the AMPAS board by 22 recipients of Academy Film Scholar grants.

When that letter was revealed by TheWrap, an Academy spokesperson released the following statement:  “We’re taking this year to re-evaluate some of our grant-giving to ensure that each of these programs has the greatest benefit to the Academy and the communities it serves. No organization supports film education, programming and emerging talent more than the Academy — it’s part of our core mission and always will be.”

Currently, grant applications are not available at the Academy website.

Click to read the entire IFP Festival Forum letter and the rest of the article on TheWrap.com. 

We want to hear from our members. Please share your feedback in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page.

Best Practices: Securing and Calculating City Support for Your Festival

Film Festivals, like all cultural organizations, are well served by demonstrating their economic impact. While some festivals have sophisticated and third-party-generated economic impact studies that are public and promoted, others develop their own internal tools.

The IFP Festival Forum envisions a codified system of data collection and presentation, so that individual festivals and the industry as a whole can make the case for their economic and cultural value to their communities. While the Americans for the Arts and other state and regional organizations conduct arts organization economic impact studies, film festivals are not measured separately.

A year ago the IFP Festival Forum was proud to offer a session at Independent Film Week with the CEO of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) Shelly Green on how she quantifies the economic impact of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. This model is one that the industry might develop as a best practice.

Read the White Paper here.

Once you’ve read the document, please share your thoughts with us at info@ifpfestivalforum.org.

Member Profile: Melissa Silverstein, Athena Film Festival

Melissa Silverstein is a writer and speaker with extensive expertise in the area of women and filmmaking. She is the founder and editor of Women and Hollywood, one of the most respected sites for issues related to women and film as well as other areas of pop culture. Women and Hollywood educates, advocates, and agitates for gender parity across the entertainment industry.

Melissa is the Entertainment Correspondent for WMC Live with Robin Morgan and was selected to be a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, the major film diplomacy program of the U.S. Department of State. And she recently published the first book from Women and Hollywood, In Her Voice: Women Directors Talk Directing, a compilation of over 40 interviews that have appeared on the site.

Women and Hollywood's Melissa Silverstein
Melissa Silverstein

In addition, Melissa is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Athena Film Festival—A Celebration of Women and Leadership at Barnard College, a four-day festival of feature films, documentaries, and shorts dedicated to highlighting women’s leadership in real life and the fictional world. The Festival, which includes conversations with producers, directors and talent, as well as Master Classes, will take place at Barnard College in New York City from February 5-8, 2015.

What are you working on?
Right now we are in the process of making decisions on the films we want to screen at Athena, finding panels and panelists and securing our awardees.

A-ha Moment?
The festival began following an event that I put together for Jane Campion for the film Bright Star at the home of Gloria Steinem. Kathryn Kolbert (Kitty) had just arrived at Barnard College to create the Athena Center for Leadership Studies. There were women directors at the event talking about how they were having very difficult times getting their films made, and so we decided to combine forces and start a film festival that focused on women’s leadership. We screen films directed by men and women, but all must focus on women’s leadership in some way. 

In Training
I come from the theatre and have an MFA in Theatre Administration. But my best training was working in women’s non-profit organizations.

Equipment/Software Must-Haves
Couldn’t survive without Google Docs and Gchat. 

My Mentor
I stand on the shoulders of all the women who came before me. 

Biggest Challenge
Fundraising is a challenge, but so is getting filmmakers to take a shot and come to Athena rather than a bigger or more well-known festival. But that is also an advantage, because we can allow the filmmakers to stand out and garner lots of publicity because there are not hundreds of titles vying for press.

Technology is also a challenge. We are small and we can’t afford DCP, so this will continue to be a challenge for us.

Best Advice
Trust your gut. 

Greatest Accomplishment
Getting the New York premiere of Belle at last year’s festival.

What is the Right Thing to Do?
Be true to your mission. Respect everyone who gives their time to come and participate—from the volunteers to the audience members—and remember how lucky we are to be doing the work we love.

Follow Melissa on Twitter @melsil and check out Athena Film Festival on Facebook and Twitter.

Festival Forum at the 2015 Art House Convergence

Annual Conference For Festival Organizers

For the second consecutive year, the IFP Festival Forum is partnering with the Art House Convergence (AHC) to offer a series of panels, events and professional development opportunities for film festival leaders and staff during the 2015 AHC, January 19-22, 2015 in Midway, Utah. The AHC provides a unique opportunity to meet with colleagues, film industry professionals and leaders in the non-profit film exhibition community, and to discuss our shared challenges and successes.

Set during the days before the Sundance Film Festival, the AHC offers a relaxed atmosphere for meetings and conversations before the business of Sundance begins. It is also a chance to combine a terrific conference and Sundance into one plane ticket, an efficiency we can all appreciate!

This year, the Festival Forum will offer a set of panels integrated into the AHC’s overall agenda, with a diverse group of speakers, experts and panelists on hand, allowing delegates to focus on issues specific to film festivals as well as broader issues of non-profit management in the film community.

If you have a panel idea you would like to propose, or if you are interested in participating on a panel as a panelist, please download the submission form here (festivals may ignore the deadline).

Also, if you are willing, please take a moment to share this post with your colleagues, as we would love to expand our pool of attending festivals.

Finally, it is important to say that the Festival Forum receives no financial support from the AHC and receives no money from this event. Your event registration fee goes directly to the AHC, covering the cost of putting on the conference, and includes your meals. The AHC itself is a non-profit conference; our shared goal is to keep costs low and the event accessible to as many organizations as is possible while still putting on a meaningful event.

As such, The AHC is offering Film Festival delegates the $450 rate until December 31, 2014. This represents a significant savings and gives delegates time to plan their trip.

If you are interested in attending, please click here or check out the flyer below to register.

We look forward to the opportunity to spend time together with our festival colleagues and hope you will join us for another wonderful conference.

See you in Midway!

IFP Festival Forum Executive Committee

P.S.  If you weren’t able to join us at the IFP Festival Forum at Independent Film Week, check out our Takeaways post, including full presentations and contact info for the presenters!


2014 IFP Festival Forum Agenda Announced

We have finalized the agenda for the 2014 IFP Festival Forum, two days of seminars and presentations at IFP Independent Film Week (September 16-17), with sessions looking at festival budgets, marketing and social media, the new tools and services for submitting films to festivals, “Meet the Programmers,” where fests gain access to this year’s filmmakers and their new projects, and more.

Festivals receive 40% off.  To register for IFP Film Week, visit ifp.org and use code ah$s to generate the discount.
Questions? Contact Industry Manager Jennifer Carpenter at industryreg@ifp.org or 212.465.8200 x222.

Click to download 2014 Festival Forum Agenda in PDF form.


Tuesday & Wednesday, September 16 & 17, 2014
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center Amphitheater
144 W. 65th St. (map)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM

The 5th Annual IFP Festival Forum Roundtable (11:30 AM – 11:55 AM)

The IFP Festival Forum Executive Committee will discuss with attendees the organization’s achievements and new initiatives for the year, including the operational survey and nomination process for new leadership in 2015.

Festival Budgets: Best Practices (12:00 – 1:15PM)

Creating an accurate budget for your film festival is one of the most important steps in building an effective, lasting organization. It also serves as an expression of your organization’s values, allowing a snapshot of priorities and managerial success for donors, sponsors, granting organizations, auditors and artists to review. But given the nature of festival production, where events and screenings often cost more than ticket revenue can provide, how can festivals develop budgets that showcase their priorities while also satisfying the need for transparency and fiscal responsibility? Join Film Society of Lincoln Center Executive Director Lesli Klainberg and New York Film Festival producer Colin Stanfield for an examination of best practices available to festival leaders looking to build a better budget.

Advocacy Tool Kit: Harmony Institute/Festival’s Impact (1:20 – 2:00PM)

How effective are films and film festivals at fostering positive change? How can that change be tracked over time with data that fosters new strategies for audience engagement and action? Join us for a presentation by Harmony Institute as they preview StoryPilot (storypilot.org), their forthcoming interactive platform for measuring the impact of film. It will be followed by a discussion on how film festivals can become more effective partners in tracking impact, delivering measurable outcomes for social transformation and leveraging impact metrics to demonstrate organizational effectiveness with sponsors, donors, distributors and other stakeholders.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Everyone is on the Marketing Team…and Other Things Your Co-Workers Don’t Want to Hear! (11:00 – 12:15PM)

As social media tools continue to present inexpensive and effective opportunities for building audiences online, film festivals have developed all manner of ways to keep an ongoing connection with their audiences. But how can organizations continue to thrive in a constantly evolving social media landscape? Atlanta Film Festival’s Chris Holland, and Tribeca Film Festival’s former VP of Digital Media Kristin McCracken join forces to expand on their popular webinar to show how your Festival can reach potential customers all year long and make them fans for life. From programming to sponsorship to customer service, learn how to engage staff in all areas – and at all levels – to amplify your Festival’s message through embedded marketing strategies.

Festival Tools: Submission Survey (12:30 – 1:30PM)

In a world where everyone with a cell phone might be considered a filmmaker, the tremendous increase in film festival submissions has been fraught with mistrust between artists and festivals. As costs increase and the number of film festivals expands rapidly, the film festival submissions process has grown, vexing fests and filmmakers alike. But with new services and terms, expanded offerings, and emerging opportunities, festivals and filmmakers have more choices than ever before. DC Shorts impresario Jon Gann will present a survey of new services and strategies to increase your reach, find more diverse films, reduce the requests for fee waivers, and make stronger connections with filmmakers.

Community Discussion (1:35 – 2:00PM)

To close the day, we’ll open the floor up to our festival colleagues to discuss the issues covered during IFW – and the role that they’d like to see the IFP Festival Forum play in the community moving forward.

Thursday, September 18, 2015 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Each year Festival programmers gain access to the IFP’s Project Forum filmmakers at Meet the Programmers, one-on-one 10-minute “speed dating” meetings set up exclusively for festival programmers attending Film Week.  Details provided upon registration for IFW.  Meet the Programmers is held at the Kaplan Penthouse, 165 West 65th Street
, New York, NY 10023.

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

IFP Festival Forum at Independent Film Week-Save the Date!

IFP Festival Forum will present two days of seminars and presentations at IFP Independent Film Week (16th & 17th), with sessions looking at festival budgets, marketing and social media, the new tools and services for submitting films to festivals, “Meet the Programmers” where fests gain access to this year’s filmmakers and their new projects, and more.   Festivals receive 40% off.  Registration code and more details below.

Festival Forum IFW Mailer

WATCH: Marketing Webinar

In case you missed it, we’ve made our recent webinar, entitled Everyone is on the Marketing Team (and other things your co-workers don’t want to hear), available on YouTube. Please enjoy this archived presentation, and make sure to RSVP for future events.

To learn more, please check out the IFP Festival Forum on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Thanks!

Just a reminder: once you’ve watched the webinar (or if you were one of the original attendees), don’t forget to complete our survey here. We need your feedback in order to plan future events that will meet the needs of our growing community. Thanks!

IFP Festival Forum Webinar on 7/22: Everyone is on the Marketing Team…

The IFP Festival Forum was founded in an effort to connect members of the film festival community in a dynamic and engaged conversation around the work we do. In order for us to develop a tried-and-true set of best practices—allowing the smallest festival to be just as successful as the behemoth—we have to talk to each other and share our knowledge. Independent Film Week in September and the Art House Convergence in January are two places where these conversations happen, but how can we keep talking all year long?

We are pleased to announce the first in our series of monthly webinars around topics of interest to Forum members. The inaugural webinar, hosted by Chris Holland (Atlanta Film Festival), will uncover the mysteries of marketing your festival.

You are invited to join us online at 2pm ET / 11am PT on Tuesday, July 22, for an informative and interactive hour-long session entitled:

Everyone Is On The Marketing Team
(and other things your coworkers don’t want to hear)

In the language of film festivals: “If the house is packed, programming did a great job. If the seats are empty, marketing must have screwed up.”

Specialization and the compartmentalization of duties in any company — film festivals being no exception — disguise the fact that every decision you make about your event affects how the members of your audience see you. That means that every decision is a marketing decision, and every person who works for you must be aware of the marketing impact their actions have. Everyone, whether they want to admit it or not, is on the marketing team.

Want a sneak peek? Here are a few examples of tidbits we’ve learned:

* Programming is marketing. You must show movies that YOUR audience wants to see, and accept the fact that “good programming” may defy your own tastes and the tastes of others.

* Customer service is marketing. When it comes to new customers, trusted word of mouth has the power to override your other marketing efforts, so treat everyone well.

* Other areas traditionally not thought of as marketing that really are: budgeting, education, sponsorship…

You will also learn key concepts and ways to bring your entire staff onto the marketing bandwagon (and keep them happy once they are on board)!

The event is free to IFP Festival Forum members and friends, but space is limited. Please RSVP using EventBrite. Detailed instructions will be sent upon RSVP.

Chris Holland is the Operations and Marketing Director for the Atlanta Film Festival. He is also the author of Film Festival Secrets: A Handbook for Independent Filmmakers and a consultant on marketing and festival strategy for independent filmmakers around the world. Chris has worked on all sides of the festival circuit, including time spent at B-Side Entertainment, Slated, IFP, and the Austin Film Festival.  

Have an idea for a future webinar? Email kristin@mccrackhouse.com

Join us in Uniting and Supporting the Film Festival Field and Promoting its Importance

All of us at the IFP Festival Forum—a small core of volunteers—are grateful for our members faith in us as we work towards creating a sustainable, national organization that can serve the field.

Look what has been accomplished in this transformative year!

  • Partnering with the Art House Convergence to present programming at their annual conference, we have found a permanent home for substantive professional development.
  • Launching our website complete with moderated discussion group, which is populated with useful materials from previous presentations.
  • Building expanded and member sourced programming for this year’s Independent Film Week in September and…
  • We are weeks away from launching our Industry Organizational Benchmark Survey.

We’ve been busy, and so have our members, serving their communities in diverse and creative ways.

As we transition to a paid membership model, we have negotiated terrific benefits for our members almost equal the cost of joining.  Those who already joined as Founding Members will receive the same Founding Member benefits retroactively. Thank you!  For new members, please go to http://www.ifpfestivalforum.com/membership/how-to-join/ for a complete list of amazing member perks.

Our work has just begun! We are buoyed by the great support and enthusiasm we’ve received from our community thus far.

Join us as a Founding, Organizational or individual member now…

We look forward to working with you!

–Festival Forum Executive Committee


IFP Festival Forum at Art House Convergence A Success!

For the first time the IFP Festival Forum partnered with the Art House Convergence to present a Film Festival track at the annual conference January 13-15 in Midway, Utah.  The IFP Festival Forum at the Art House Convergence conference featured inspirational speakers, informative sessions and panel discussions that provided productive tips about programming, marketing, fundraising, technology and industry trends to help improve the quality and effectiveness of festivals. Over 50 film festival organizers attended the inaugural event, and over 70% of the art houses in attendance present or host film festivals, creating a vibrant exchange of best practices, curatorial efficiencies, research and advocacy discussions.  Plans to make next year’s Festival Forum at the Art House Convergence even more meaningful and accessible to members are underway.

Following the Art House Convergence, more than 150 festival organizers had the opportunity to convene again at the annual Sundance Film Festival Organizer Brunch, held during the Sundance Film Festival.  See photos below from the conference.  We hope to see you at both events again next year!