FESTIVAL FORMULA // KATIE MCCULLOUGH ROUNDS UP 2014
MAY 1ST 2014, AND SO IT BEGAN…
Katie McCullough: When I launched Festival Formula, of course I expected an increase in my work load. I’d been covering all the areas we specialise in for over 8 years now, just in a smaller, quieter, word-of-mouth way. Maybe it was because I was focusing on it more rather than keeping it as a side-job, perhaps it was because those who had hired me finally had somewhere more solid to send people than an introduction over email… I don’t know. I can tell you that I’ve been incredibly busy though.
Trying to sum up what we do is hard, but it’s also relatively simple. The snag is that it’s a niche area, and the more filmmakers we meet, the more it’s clear that it’s very much needed. As self-distribution becomes a standard option in the film market we’re encountering a lot of projects who need social media consultation, and we’re also seeing a rise in shorts being presented as teasers which in turn means a more structured festival strategy. The circuit, and market, are always in flux with new ideas at every turn – but it still comes down to getting your work out there in the best possible way with your budget in mind.
FILMS, FESTIVALS, FILMMAKERS
We’ve taken on a lot of films in this first 7 months, all of which vary in length, format, and genre. We have documentary, experimental, animation, comedy, live-action, mixed media… The list goes on. Each one has its own bespoke festival strategy created to a budget provided by the client. I call it ‘glorified admin’ but the thing is, I love it. I really do. Helping a filmmaker see the potential in their film and get the best for their project is what keeps me going doing what I do. I also tell everyone that my job is “90% managing expectation, 10% admin”. We want the best for filmmakers, but we also don’t want them out of pocket because they sent it to the festivals that makes them ‘feel’ like a filmmaker. There are a wealth of festivals out there on the circuit and the number is increasing everyday. Taking out the issues dealt with in the narrative both in front of the camera, and behind, we submit films to festivals we think it’s suited to – not just festivals that are prolific. We definitely are not out to quash anyone’s dream, we’re here to tailor it so it’s more of a reality. And save you money!
We’ve spoken at the following places about festival strategy and Festival Formula, and we’ve also gone on to take on some of the attendees as clients.
- Falmouth University
- Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival // invited as part of the Festival Identity Forum
- Cork Film Festival // INCUBATE Industry Event
- East End Film Festival // Mind The Gap Industry Event
CHANGING LANE WITH CROWDFUNDING
Moving from running crowdfunding campaigns and consulting on them means my work is more beneficial to those about to embark on their projects. Writing up reports and handing over all the knowledge tailored to the client fills me with a sense of accomplishment, and a silent fist pump and slap on the back as they begin the put the info into practise. I spoke as Festival Formula in many places about crowdfunding, and the feedback has been great with each campaign being a success.
- Met Film School // MA Producers
- Bath Spa University
- East End Film Festival // 01zero-one Industry Event
- Festival Formula was invited to be part of the Westminster Crowdfunding Forum at House of Commons (alongside Phundee)
SINGING FROM THE SOCIAL MEDIA CHOIR SHEET
I still see social media faux pas dropping all over the place, and it does stand out. We’re in a culture where the average Jo//Josephine can see the clunks and errors of our ways, even if they don’t work in marketing or PR. They still have a phone//computer and they’re reading what you’re saying, or not as the case sometimes is.
I really enjoy it when a project comes to me and it’s rife with social media fruits. Areas to explore and expand, highlight and embed. We’ve had the opportunity to work on some feature films yet to be released, as well as some creative companies looking to strengthen their online presence. Every project is different and admittedly it does takes time to sift through all the assets within its narrative. The joy when you get ideas popping out though is fantastic. Leaving clients with a handbook on what their project is achievable of and seeing them implement it really does make it worth it. We’ve encountered some social media reluctance from people, but this is partly to do with a lack of understanding of programs and etiquette. I’m happy to answer those questions no matter how trivial they seem, every project should be as strong as the idea behind it. I’ve been hired to speak about creative social media a lot, and every session I’ve come out happy I’ve passed on knowledge.
- Northern Film & Media // Newcastle // Finding Your Audience
- Independent Cinema Office // Industry Mentoring Scheme (we went on to mentor the social media representatives for Encounters Film Festival // Arab British Centre // and an upcoming new film festival)
SPREADING THE WORD
We’ve been incredibly lucky that within our first 7 months not only have we had a brilliant roster of clients, we’ve built some great relationships. Our first appearance not long after we launched was at the St. Albans Film Festival where we chaired a panel about Women in Film & Media and the Bechedel test. We were also official sponsors for London Screenwriters’ Festival providing gifts to all the industry judges for PitchFest, and then went on to be a sponsor for London Film Academy‘s graduate showcase which happened at the BFI. We were also kindly mentioned in Digital Filmmaker Magazine twice by friends and clients (thank you Brett and Dave!). Our affiliates are always a growing family, and at present include LOCO London Comedy Film Festival, Shooting People, Short Com, Phundee, East End Film Festival, and Brainwrap Comedy.
2015… See you there!
Director // Founder