This year’s Venice Film Festival will screen some of the fall’s most anticipated films! Starting with George Clooney’s Ideas of March, a political drama about a press secretary caught up in a potentially career threatening scandal. The festival goes through September 9, hosting big names such as Roman Polanki, David Cronenberg, and Steven Soderbergh. Visit http://www.labiennale.org/en/Home.html to view trailers and get more information!
Indiewire recently published a top-ten list of things that every film director should know. The list was written by Laurie Kirby, executive director of the International Film Festival Summit. “As a film festival executive, I have seen too many excellent festivals lose their footing by losing sight of the big picture,” she said. Click here for the original article on Indiewire.
1. Your mission is to boldly go where?
Nothing will destroy your festival faster than veering off course like an Indy 500 driver. Review and revise your mission statements annually, get buy in from the board or you will lose your direction faster than Columbus before GPS.
2. Location, location, location.
Do you really know your audience? Do they understand you and what a film festival is? Educate them and don’t assume they know anything about festivals unless they live next door to Lincoln Center. Don’t show three obscure and inaccessible Japanese films if they have never heard of “Rashomon.” Bring them along slowly and educate them and don’t make them eat broccoli if they have never tasted a vegetable. If you live in a community known for X… then exploit X. Local filmmakers score big points at festivals, not because they are the next Almodovar but because people think locally.
3. No good comes of deficit spending.
Living beyond one’s means is for reality stars and governments. Create a livable budget and stick to it. Measure it annually against what you really spent and retool. Be sure the budget contains a reserve for things that may go wrong and capture those contingencies. Don’t pay foreign licensing fees, celebrity pocket money, ridiculous theater rental fees or print high-gloss programs if you can’t afford it. Think twice before you spend money on things you can do without.
4. Board members need to understand their roles.
Contrary to rumor, they are not there to impress their friends or act as the surrogate executive director. Just as the ED must commit in writing to a job description, so should every board member. There are many good books and articles about the role of a board member. Have them sign a contract before agreeing to serve with the money to be raised, the roles they play (and don’t) and a thorough understanding of the mission. Let them evaluate you and you and the Chair evaluate them.
5. Never pay for what you can get in-kind.
This includes car rentals, off-season hotel rooms, radio, tv and internet, billboards, social media, local restaurants, printers, merchandise companies, airlines, digital advertising, mobile apps, screen companies, rental companies and human resources. They all can get a benefit from being associated with you. Have a nice sponsor deck ready to show them how, and barter for it. Always do a post-event report with the media impressions and get pictures and videos of their product in the mix.
6. It’s about the films.
Enough said on that.
7. What are you missing?
Are you analyzing your revenue streams correctly and building out those areas? Don’t keep buying T-shirts with your logo so they can sit in boxes for years to come. License out the merchandise (that’s not your business and as nonprofits it is unrelated business income), trade-out the program (or make it online or an app with just a bartered newspaper insert as your brochure). Don’t show 200 films where 50 will work. Theater you absolutely need charging you a fortune? Have them run a promo in all their chains as part of the fee for a month leading up to the festival. Have a contest for the trailer with a local arts school. Rent a really good copy machine so you don’t have to pay Kinko’s a fortune. Examine the theatrical formats and then pick the best for you. Partner with nonprofits that match movie themes for audience development. Have “Angels” sponsor a film and give them tickets, branding and accolades. Run specials for tickets, have contests, incentivize volunteers to sell tickets and build out restaurant-theater specials, create local retail decorating contests (winner gets tickets, but have twofers for those participating) and movie theme parties. Engage the community and local businesses and they will feel the love.
8. Be organized.
Every staff member needs a job description. Every volunteer must sign a worker’s comp release and waiver of employment. Every film should start on time! Have backup systems; batteries for wireless speakers and Plan B ready if the weather doesn’t cooperate for the outdoor screening, the projector doesn’t work and the star doesn’t show up. Have a bible for continuity with all systems enumerated in all places (with a management bible and a staff one).
9. Be kind.
Don’t assume you know everything. Yes, you. We are all works in progress and no one has all the answers. You got there because you were smart, but a fool thinks he knows it all; a wise man or woman, not so much. Be open to new ideas and suggestions, but make sure the buck stops with you. If you make a colossal mistake it isn’t the end of the world, but you should take the heat. There is no room for egos in this job and the staff deserves the credit as you are the face, but they are in the trenches. Thank each one personally for a job well done (or explain if not) and you will get greater results every year.
10. This is truly a labor of love.
There are many perks: Enthusiastic and appreciative filmmakers, finding that gem of a movie, lively Q&As. It is our passion and we are responsible for educating and entertaining our audiences. Many films are a call to action that engage audiences to think and perhaps act to improve our society. And at the end of the day, what greater contribution is there?
Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in United States will begin on September 22nd and end on September 29th. The shorts lineup includes many films ranging from 2 minutes to 30 minutes. For more information, click here.
At the Zurich Film Festival next month, Sean Penn will be awarded the 2011 Golden Icon award. He is recognized for his award winning feature films, his outstanding journalism on the middle-east, and his humanitarian work in New Orleans and Japan. Previous recipients of this award include Morgan Freeman (2009) and Michael Douglas (2010). The Zurich Film Festival will begin on September 22nd and continue through October 2nd. For more information, click here.
Want a behind-the-scenes look at one of famous and creative restaurants in the world? The new film El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, about the acclaimed restaurant in Catalonia, Spain, will delight foodies around the world. El Bulli, directed by Gereon Wetzel, has been released in theaters.
The film follows owner and head chef of the restaurant, Ferran Adria, on his quest for the perfect new selection of dishes. Adria, with the help of his assistants, searches for innovative ways to combine ingredients, such as sweet potato meringue and hazelnut cocktail. The film also includes an inside look at El Bulli, the restaurant the serves 30-course meals to wealthy patrons that made reservations years in advance. More information about the film can be found here.
On July 24th, 2010, the whole world participated in creating a major motion picture. With 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries, Life in a Day is the story of life on earth from sunrise to sunset. Produced by Ridly Scott and directed by Oscar-winning Kevin Macdonald, the film Life in a Day was the official selection of Sundance Film Festival. The incredible clips filmed by regular people answer questions presented to them by Macdonald, such as “What do you love?”, “What do you fear?”, “What’s in your pocket?”. Edited down to a T and sequenced in chronological order, the footage shows everything from the live birth of a giraffe to skydiving. For more information about this incredible film, click here
The 31st Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival began on July 21 and has been screening throughout the Bay Area. The three week festival is approaching its final weekend with screenings this Saturday, Aug. 6 - Monday, Aug. 8 at the Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center, in San Rafael, with over a dozen vibrant and compelling glimpses of the Jewish world from around the globe.
Experience the passionate storytelling, moving images and courageous spirit of independent Jewish cinema in a vibrant contemporary celebration of a culture 5771 years in the making.
For more information about the SFJFF and to purchase advance tickets please visit www.sfjff.org.
The 68th annual Venice International Film Festival will kick off on August 31st and will run till September 10th. As of last Thursday (July 28) the film festival released some of the films that will be competing in this years festival. Some of those films include: The Ides of March, a suspense drama directed and staring George Clooney, as well as Roman Polanski’s new film Carnage, starring John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz. Carnage is about two sets of parents and how they work through their kids fighting at school.