Festival lessons: how to thrive and survive

So I survived my first festival! Although, judging by the extreme lag time in creating my first post-fest blog entry, you would think that I was still recovering…

In my first year as Director of Marketing, there is no doubt that I learned A LOT – from the incredible group of staff and volunteers I work with, from the community organizations and festivals who support us along the way, and of course from trial and error!  Here are some of the invaluable festival lessons I learned on how to thrive in (and survive) Reel Asian:

  • If you are going to review a film and give away the ending, make sure you include a “spoiler alert” warning (my apologies to the individual who called me out on my PHOBIA 2 blog entry)
  • In the same way that you should not drink and drive, don’t drink and karaoke the night before an event where your photo will be taken in the AM. Not only will your ears be ringing the next day, your head will hurt and no amount of Visine will soothe your red eyes. Exception to the rule: if you require a bit of liquid courage to get on the mic.
  • Asking box office for the number of tickets sold one hour before start time is not an accurate indication of the number of people that are going to show up. Let’s just say I did my fair share of sweating about attendance numbers…most notably, on one occasion when there were only 4 people in line 30 minutes before start time and the director was in attendance (thankfully, the screening ended up being packed!).
  • Come up with your personal “top 3 picks” so that when your family, friends, acquaintances, or random person in the coffee shop tell you they are too overwhelmed to go through the whole programme guide (which you of course always keep in your bag), you can recommend your 3 must-see films.
  • Get to know the filmmakers. Sure, you’ve watched the screeners and read up on the films on the internet. But nothing can compare to chatting with the talented moviemakers about their passion. The more you know about the films, the more you can promote it.
  • Bloggers are your friends. Sure you want to be everywhere at all times during the festival (as a newbie, I didn’t want to miss out on anything!) but the truth is you can’t (until they master human cloning). This year, we were fortunate to have Jon from Made in Canada‘s witty reporting which added a refreshing and insightful perspective on the fest.
  • Volunteers are the backbone of the festival. We couldn’t do it without them so thank the people in the red shirts because they deserve it (and talk to them because sometimes they have the good behind-the-scenes stories)! (see above pic – best moment ever.)

The festival may be over but luckily we can re-live all the moments through our photos and videos.  We’ve already starting planning for next year’s 15th annual edition so mark your calendars and start practicing your karaoke chops!