I am the director of a film festival, now what do I do?!

I am now one of the director’s of the 2005 Texas Film Festival. While the Texas Film Festival is already awesome (and thought I say that as a biased source, it is also true), there are always ways to make it more awesome. Therefore, I thought I would ask the Dopers what their favorite festivals are and what they liked best about them.

So, anyone who has ever been to a film festival, say what you liked or didn’t like, whether you were there as a director of a film, as a person putting on the festival, or an audience member, or whatever.

I’ll start another thread once our call for entries is up, but if there are any aspiring filmmakers out there who would like to ask me about submitting a film, you can contact me through my email or im which are in my profile.

Depending on how long you have until your festival starts, it sounds like your best bet is to start crying.

Whoops, I hit send too quickly (yes, I know you ahve a year, but that hasn’t helped any of the festivals I’ve been too). Here’s the rest of that answer:

Just make sure that there are bars are close by so that everyone can get there without having to navigate/spend money on cabs.

Keep director comments short, especially a short intro during the movie. Make sure that the lights at the back of the theater are low enough that people can sneak out and don’t feel compelled to stay and listen to the director/groupies afterwards. One of the things I’ve always wished for was to have a two or three minute pause after the film (and before the yapping) so that people don’t feel self-conscious about leaving. Better yet, have it in another room. Of course, it would have to be a big room in case everyone wanted to stay, so it might not be possible.

Kick off and finishing parties are definitely needed. If those suck, no one will come back to the festival.

Is it going to be held in one place? Over how long?

It’s kind of non-traditional for a film festival, but I’d be really interested in attending something on the intersection between film and the internet. Maybe it could be like a collection of shorts with a round table discussion afterwards.

There are more and more “film like” things on the internet using flash animation, etc. They range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Some of them, like the spong monkeys, are breaking through into the real world. It would be edgy to showcase them at an established film festival.

Well, our festival is somewhat unique in that it is held at Texas A&M and run totally by students. However, since we are all students, our showings only run from about 5-12 PM from Monday to Friday and then from 1-8 or so on Saturday. Next year it is March 28- April 2. It’s also a small festival in that we only have one screening going on at a time, but it is in a 700 seat theater. So that means we have usually about 12 features and several short programs screenings every year, with about 2000 or so people attending, though I plan on that number increasing.

Our festival site from this year should still be working if anyone wants to see what the Texas Film Festival is like: Texas Film Festival.
Thanks for the great advice Chairman Pow. One good thing about being on the Texas A&M campus is there are many bars in walking distance. And you also have a good point about letting people sneak out before the director talks. I would like for everybody to stay to hear a director, but I definitely don’t want them to stay because they feel too guilty to leave.

And while I am sure I will do my fair amount of crying before the festival, our advisor has been here for the past 11 years that we have had it, and I have worked with the festival before, so I pretty much know what I need to do. I just am trying to think of as many things as possible to make it better.
Anyone else have any film festival stories or advice? Or even want to tell about great movies they saw at a festival? Probably my favorite movie I saw at this year’s Texas Film Festival was The Movie Hero. It was a very funny comedy about a guy who thinks his life is a movie, and how he has to get the girl and fight the bad guy. Hmmm… doesn’t really sound good from a written description, but believe me, it is good. The web site could probably explain it better than I can.

That sounds really cool Truth Seeker. I have been looking at online film websites like Atom Films and Studentfilms.com looking for films to maybe try to get into our festival, but some screening to showcase only internet films thing would be something cool to try.

I have been to the Chicago Film Festival several times and I always enjoyed it.

A couple simple things:

Have more than one theater participating.

Show films more than once, preferably in different time-slots at different theaters.

Save a couple time slots near the end of the festival to re-show favorites.

Yeah. Just imagine 700 people sitting through 30 minutes of “Badger, Badger!” :cool:

My favorite film festival is the Gothenburg Film Festival - although I have not been to too many; this one is the biggest in Scandinavia I think.

Anyway, one really really great event they used to have is the “Surprise Movie”. This is a totally secret movie screened usually at midnight or something; and absolutely NO ONE knows what it is - except one or two people in the festival committee. It’s always a great atmosphere outside the theater waiting to get in, hearing all the discussions and guesses, and of course the “psst - I got an inside tip that it’s XXXXXXX”.

Some great surprises over the last few years at the festival have been : “Shawshank Redemption”, “Une Liaison Pornographique”, “Austin Powers” (!), and “Carlito’s Way”. Of course, one year they had that remake of “Psycho”, which was sort of less than gladly appreciated.