Taking your Film Festival online with Iris

Iris on the move 2020 © Harrison Williams
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Film Hub Wales and Iris talk Plan B with 40 UK Festivals during Covid-19

Since lockdown, we’ve all been learning how to do things differently. How to reach audiences online was one of the first things on the agenda. This is important for film festivals who traditionally rely on the collective watching experience.

We’ve had various conversations with festivals of all sizes and there’s a lot of information out there, which can feel overwhelming. We wanted to take some time out to talk things through together. We invited Berwyn Rowlands, Director of Iris Prize and FHW advisory group member, to share their plans to take Iris online in 2020. Around 40 film festivals from Borderlines to Oska Bright joined us, with Berwyn also offering eight one-to-ones after the session.

Watch the session in full above. You must be a member of BFI FAN to view this content.  You can join FHW here or find your local film hub here.

Berwyn’s top ten tips:

  1. Know your festival: Understand its strengths and weaknesses. Get your team and partners involved,
  2. Business plan: Review your aims and objectives regularly,
  3. The four pillars: Marketing, finance, content and infrastructure. Remember they are all equal,
  4. Support your core audience: There are exciting opportunities to reach new audiences online but remember your loyal core. Take surveys seriously. Talk to your audience and find out what they need,
  5. Online Festival: Resources and finance permitting, you should try not to get involved with anything you would not like to continue with once we return to “normal”
  6. Spend wisely: If you have a marketing budget re-think it. Make the best use of your assets,
  7. Embrace technology: Technology is only scary when it’s the unknown. Talk to partners,
  8. Choose your platform carefully: Think about your objectives, your brand, what you want to charge, accessibility and making it a safe space,
  9. Lead and communicate: Audiences appreciate clear information. Don’t be afraid to cancel, postpone or re-imagine, if it’s the best decision for you,
  10. Don’t be afraid to fail: This learning only makes our future approach stronger.

Other Resources

  • Book a one-to-one with Berwyn through the BFI FAN A&E Scheme,
  • There’s a Film Festival Federation group which was set up to help facilitate collaboration; to amplify the benefits of film festivals to films, venues, distributors, sales agents and cities/towns; to see how we can work together to make sure that film festivals weather all the various storms we face. All film festivals are invited to join, just sign up here.
  • ICO article: Drive-in cinemas in post UK lockdown,
  • British Council Festival database where you can search and add your festival,
  • BFI Screen Sector Taskforce – the latest update can be found on our website.  Join the BFI industry mailing list for further updates.