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By: Weston Barnes
If you are part of a community of filmmakers, be they independent directors, activist documentarians, or even graduate students in film school, you have probably considered organizing a film festival to showcase your community’s talents and help launch careers. These five steps will guide you toward making your thoughts a reality.

Choose a Name for Your Festival

You want to select a name that tells people right away what your film festival is about while generating excitement among potential audiences. While it might be tempting to choose a silly pun, remember that you want a name that attracts filmmakers to participate, entices audiences to attend and looks good in media promotions from companies like Rogers & Cowan. Only choose a gimmick name for your festival if it also accomplishes all three of these goals.

Decide How Long the Festival Will Be

Will your festival be one day or several? How many hours will it last? Answering these questions helps you decide on a venue as well as how many submissions your festival will be able to accept. Be realistic in making this decision. If you know your target filmmakers comprise a very small community, don’t aim for a two week festival.

Select a Venue for the Festival

Depending on the content and focus of the festival itself, you have many options. If the films are academic in nature or created by students a university theater may be the perfect choice. Don’t overlook unconventional venues like bars when deciding. It’s very important to book your venue as early as possible to make sure you can claim the space on the day or days of your festival.

Solicit Filmmakers and Other Participants

Not only will you need films for your film festival, you will want to get film critics excited about the upcoming event. This is where a firm like Rogers & Cowan can help you generate buzz. As you select the films for your festival, you may also want to contact those involved with the making of the films such as actors, producers, directors and more. Not only is it courteous to invite these people to your festival, it opens opportunities for presentations and discussions after each film which gives audiences more incentive to attend.

Hire or Recruit Volunteers to Make the Festival Work

You can’t do it all alone. You will need people selling and collecting tickets, a catering company or people to prepare refreshments, someone with technical knowledge to coordinate the actual projection of the films and someone to control raising and lowering the house lights. Depending on the focus of your festival, these workers may be paid or you might be able to use volunteers. As for the important job of promotions, it’s often best to outsource it to a company like Rogers & Cowan that can assess your needs and apply their professional expertise to getting the word out about your festival.

Following these five steps will keep you organized and focused on making your film festival the celebration of film and filmmakers every film festival ought to be. Start planning early, keep your schedule organized and don’t try to do it all alone. May your film festival be a raging success for you and your filmmakers.

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