Is film festival programming becoming a precarious job?

Be the support system your programmers need.

Film festivals have changed a lot in the last couple of years, and so has film festival programming. Budget cuts have made it difficult for festivals to keep a year-round staff of programmers. However, the importance of film festival programmers has remained the same. They are still the guardians of a festival’s artistic identity. And that is a year-round job. So how can you, as a festival, offer them the best tools to do this vital work in less time?

Guardians of your film festival

Laying the groundwork for a festival program spans years.

Any good programmer keeps tabs on those filmmakers they find interesting. Following these makers over the years and establishing connections is a part of the job. Film festival programming largely relies on this research and the network of the programmers. That’s why it’s super important to offer an easy way for them to document all their research and keep it available for the festival over the years. If there are any changes to the programming team, this central archive will ensure that no ideas and agreements get lost.  

Chasing film makers and paperwork

Film festival programming is surprisingly much paperwork.

The longlist is the start of many programs. Next to one’s research and selection, it involves, more often than not, an intimidating number of online submissions. Getting to the shortlist as quickly as possible will leave more time for creating the program. But there are no easy shortcuts here, as the communication with the makers must be respectful and high-quality. So when selection committees join the process to work towards the shortlist, a massive stream of data and administrative work must be managed next to viewing many film entries. The best way to support this is to offer them a streamlined way of working that will decrease mistakes and make the selection process as quick and smooth as possible.

The planning juggle

After selection, the puzzle continues with other ingredients, such as the availability of makers for Q&As, technical constraints, and a natural flow in the planning for film screenings. Managing these variables for different people and even for various departments can be another challenge you want to shield your programmers from. The way to help everyone involved is to ensure that all information is continuously updated and available from one single source.

software for programmers to the rescue

Software to the rescue.

Providing programmers with a single source of always up-to-date information is the way to enable these guardians of the festival identity to do their year-round work in less than a year-round job. However, getting there might be easier said than done, which is where film festival management software saves the day.

  1. You’ll have a single point of information where the entire programming team can access all the research, contact and planning information. Everyone will stay up-to-date with recent developments and can work with the same data, thus enabling better communication and decreasing the chance of mistakes.
  2. You can offer your selection committees a range of tools to view and assess films and communicate with the programming team. The programmers will also have easy tools to support their communication with filmmakers.
  3. You’ll build up an archive of your research and selection with projects, films, and contacts that will be vital to your film research over the years.

Fiona Festival offers all of these advantages for film festival programming and more. Book a meeting to see how Fiona Festival can help you support your programmers.

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Who is Fiona?


At Fiona, we love tech and film festivals. That is why our film festival clients love Fiona’s film festival management software: designed to be effective, user-friendly, and easy to use.  We are constantly adding new features and learning from our trusted film festival partners. Meanwhile, we stay updated on new technologies to keep Fiona the best film festival management software.

About The Author

Peter Goldman
Fiona Festival integrates with Shift72


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