The Festival is Over! Now What?

Today’s guest blog post is written by Jacob Trussell, Marketing Assistant, PatronManager. 

You’re sitting cross-legged on the floor, mountains of paper strewn around your office as discarded name tags litter the hallways. You hear the final guests leaving the closing night party while the film reels are being locked safely in the projection booth. After this whirlwind two weeks, you sigh in relief, your film festival was a success! But now that the dust has settled, what are you going to do for the next 50 weeks to keep your organization active?

Film festivals are an exceptional way to bring together artists and fans from across the globe to watch world premieres and hear from emerging new voices in the industry, but when the premium rush of the festival subsides how can you ensure that the crowds keep coming back year after year? Well, I believe The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival may just be on the right track.

The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival was established in 2016 as the preeminent international genre film festival in the state of New York. In their short tenure, they have already garnered numerous accolades from mainstream entertainment publications such as Entertainment Weekly and IndieWire to the king of all genre journalism, Fangoria. They feature state, country, and world premiere short and feature-length films ranging from the rarely seen cinema of Turkey, to independently produced local shorts, and all at a very reasonable price point. They manage to keep ticket prices affordable by having corporate sponsorships with local cinemas like Video Revival, major players in online streaming media like Shudder, and national publications like Birth.Movies.Death. But with a festival as short as this one (one weekend only!), what can they do to continue building their base after the inaugural year?

While the actual festival proper is only three days, the BHFF fills out the rest of the year with genre film screenings through partnerships with IFC Midnight and Videology Cinema in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Each screening not only offers the opportunity to view films for a lower ticket price than your average big box cinema but also give audiences the chance to participate in Q&A’s with the cast and crew and enjoy special mystery cocktails and food at a discounted price. In addition to added ticket sales revenue, these kinds of events provide a major advertising opportunity for the primary festival.

Another audience building tactic to use in the film festival off-season is targeted, thoughtful curation of film programming. For example, you could screen the early works of a film director as a way to build anticipation for this director’s opening night film at next year’s festival. This will build your audience’s trust in your taste and make them more likely to attend later in the year. As a fan myself I can attest to showing loyalty to an organization when they introduce me to a rarely seen or screened film.

But what about outside of simply screening more films in the off months? Is there anything else you can do? Absolutely, and the Austin Film Festival is a great example! While they do hold special advanced screenings and Q&A’s throughout the year, they also hold competitions and workshops for budding writers and filmmakers to help hone their craft. These competitions build festival awareness to individuals that may not have a chance to attend the festival in person! A person could live in Timbuktu and still be an engaged member of the community because of a script or web series that he or she submitted for the competition. As a companion piece to the competitions, they also hold classes and workshops with industry professionals on screenwriting, idea pitching, and more for little to no cost to their community!

Film festivals, large and small, are typically short events. But by furthering community outreach through monthly screenings, special events, competitions, and workshops, your three-day film festival will gain new patrons every week of the year!

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