June 12, 2024
Client Success Story: Locarno Film Festival

The importance of risk management and teamwork when switching your film festival software

“Overall, the team is very happy about Fiona. I haven't seen such a happy team after changing systems and the collaboration with the Fiona team was easy and seamless.”

Simona Gamba - Chief Innovation Officer, Locarno Film Festival
Piaza Grande Locarno Film Festival

The Locarno Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals around and has been showcasing emerging quality films for more than 75 years. Its reputation is based on integrity, artistic freedom and a focus on environmental and social sustainability. Many directors have competed for the coveted Pardo d’Oro and film festival professionals have gladly mingled during the Locarno Pro days. Like any major film festival that has been running as long as Locarno has, they have a huge database. When the time came to switch to new software solutions, they asked us to help oversee this project and implement Fiona Festival software at its core. Our joint focus was on minimizing risks, so we collaborated closely and took the entire process step by step.

Table of Contents

  • Why the change was necessary
  • Testing phase: taking it slow
  • Implementation and customization
  • Locarno’s experience
  • Current collaboration and future improvements

Why the change was necessary

After years of working with tailormade software, building on top of it, and integrating new elements, it became increasingly complex for Locarno to maintain a clean and smoothly running database. This, of course, poses a risk. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of all your preparations and find yourself unable to access essential information or deal with a software malfunction. Given the software’s complexity, they would have needed a dedicated software engineer to keep going. This was reason enough for Locarno to go on the lookout for a new software solution with a dedicated support team, that could help them move forward and grow sustainably. They created a shortlist of software suppliers and compared them (including us) in terms of possibilities, their trust in the service and its continuity, and of course, costs. Ultimately, they chose to undertake this process with us.

Programming with Fiona

Testing phase – taking it slow

“That support hour was great. The Fiona Team was very kind and supportive and very, very, very organized.”

Simona Gamba - Chief Innovation Officer, Locarno Film Festival

One of the major challenges in switching software for any film festival is the limited time available for testing. Testing the software is best done during the festival, which is also the worst time because these are the days when you want to avoid any errors. Therefore, the software must be integrated and perfected in the preceding months, in addition to your usual workload. Fortunately, this is a challenge we know how to handle. We began by familiarizing ourselves with their existing system and determining the best way to migrate data. In the first year, we had the Locarno team test only some of the modules. By the second year, the entire team was using Fiona. To facilitate this transition, we provided a daily digital walk-in hour, allowing anyone with questions or needing extra support or clarification to join the meeting during that time.

Implementation and customization

“Fiona is at the centre of everything, it was the main core that we needed to make work.”

Simona Gamba - Chief Innovation Officer, Locarno Film Festival

Locarno was changing its software, website and ticketing partner all at the same time. So, besides a software supplier, they needed consultants and partners to help them oversee the whole process of technical changes. As they describe it: “Fiona is at the center of everything, it was the main core that we needed to make work.” To make sure that we could make that core work for Locarno, we were very involved in the technical change. We offered our expertise and knowledge to the Locarno team, of course, and also to their other technical partners. All so that we could customize Fiona to the specific needs of Locarno and deliver on being the solid core of their digital tools.

Locarno Film Festival Red Carpet

Locarno’s experience

“It went quicker than expected. Fiona is un altro mondo.”

Simona Gamba - Chief Innovation Officer, Locarno Film Festival

We could continue discussing this collaboration endlessly, but you would likely prefer to hear it directly from the source. So, we asked Locarno about their experience with Fiona Festival software, particularly in comparison to their previous workflow, and this is what they said:

Fiona Festival is built really well, it takes time to onboard, but it’s very easy to use. Our biggest worry was to migrate the database and the Fiona team was very supportive, very nice with the current partners, very collaborative. It went quicker than expected. [Fiona Festival is] un altro mondo (another world). Overall, the team is very happy about Fiona. I haven’t seen such a happy team after changing systems and the collaboration with the Fiona team was easy and seamless.

Specifically, the biggest improvements were:

  • Film scheduling is very efficient and saves a lot of time

  • Reports on films are very useful for all the team (priorly done manually)

  • Set-up of forms [using Fiona’s form-builder] has saved a lot of development time and costs (priorly all done in backend by developers)

  • It’s easy to explain to new members of the staff.

Current collaboration and future improvements

“When you want to have a special feature only for yourself, they can develop these features. If they’re useful for other festivals, they will integrate them for other festivals.”

Simona Gamba - Chief Innovation Officer, Locarno Film Festival

No film festival is ever completely finished, likewise, Fiona Festival never stops developing. Based on film festivals’ wishes we keep working on developments and improvements. For Locarno we’re currently working on a visual hotel planner, a MailChimp integration and a form for easily inviting a complete film delegation to specific activities. Together we’ve created and will keep adding to, an open, safe and future-proof system. A system that saves the Locarno Festival time and costs and is easy to use and learn.

Of course, switching film festival software is a big step that requires a lot of attention and risk management, but when done right, it will make your workflow (and your and your team’s lives) a whole lot easier.
Want to know more about how we can help you make a successful digital transition? Book a meeting.

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