With the help of a bursary from the Film Hub South West, Becky Megson from Encounters Film Festival visited New Horizons Festival in Wroclaw Poland to attend the ICO’s Developing Your Film Festival course.
This year, ICO’s annual course Developing your Film Festival took place in Wroclaw, Poland during the New Horizons Festival 2019. Thirty film festival professionals from all over the world travelled to Poland to take part in this year’s course and to learn from each other and the speakers organised to attend.
The course was delivered by film festival professionals from a host of different festivals from KurzFilm Festival Hamburg to Toronto International Film Festival to International Film Festival Rotterdam. Days were split into sections focussing on different topics including: Festival strategy, Logistics, Sponsorship & Fundraising, Digital Marketing campaigns, Audience Development and Press & PR.
We had the opportunity to attend New Horizon’s Opening ceremony where they screened Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Girl on Fire, I was also able to make the screenings of Mr Jones directed by Agnieszka Holland and Dirty God directed by Sacha Polak.
Jennifer Free’s presentation on how to develop “Brand Partnerships” was insightful and provided lots of useful tips on how to plan your partnership strategy, outlining how to think about what areas/types of companies/organisations to approach, things to think about when creating your Sponsor Deck and how to follow up with potential sponsors.
The most useful sessions were when we were able to work in groups on projects for each of the speakers including: how accessible is your festival for audiences and who are potential new audiences, identifying potential partnerships, sponsorship pitches and press pitches. One session, which was particularly helpful, was during Jennifer’s presentation where we identified sectors who might match your organisations key goals. For example, if one of your goals was discovery you could look at airline companies, opticians or travel agents – it was a really useful exercise to get us to think about ways to approach identifying sponsorship outside of the usual sectors and organisations.
The case study from Jodie de Groot, Head of Marketing and Communications from the International Film Festival Rotterdam, on how to create campaigns that engage audiences gave insight into the tools the team at Rotterdam use to do this, using the “feel IFFR” campaign from the 2018 festival as an example. Jodie gave an insight into how the inclusion of audiences with the “feel IFFR” campaign increased their digital engagement with the festival and their platforms and how for her team the importance of setting KPI’s prior to the launch of the campaign helped them to track results and react to feedback from their audiences. This case study tied in nicely with a talk earlier in the day from Sarah Boiling on recognising who you audience is, what drives them to engage and what actions you can take as an organisation to engage them and maintain their engagement throughout the festival and year round.
Overall Developing Your Film Festival was an insightful and fun week which has increased my knowledge of film festivals happening all over the world. I’ve returned to work with more knowledge from both the speakers and my peers about how to develop areas of the festival, as well as inspiration for new ideas for the future.