Festivals, social media, and film screenings online
by Fabien Lemercier
06/04/2012 - Festival directors from all over the world, from Copenhagen, Stockholm, Edinburgh, Venice, Tallin, Moscow, Oldenburg, Sofia, Freiburg, the United Kingdom, Poland, Slovakia, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the United States, met for two days in Paris this week at the International Film Festival Summit (IFFS). They discussed using social media and screening selected films online.
All participants unanimously agreed that their websites, Facebook, and Twitter were essential to advertise their events, but added a few important points. Füsun Eriksen who directs Copenhagen’s BUSTER film festival stressed the need to think carefully about messages directed to a younger audience on social media, especially when events are supported by public funding. And then a whole section of the public is still not interested in new technologies, so traditional communication methods are still important too. One participant told of how he had moved all of his communication strategy online only to realise that a more traditional presentation would be necessary too because “the public makes us realise that it isn’t all moving as fast as we think.”
In the Business To Business (B2B) section, novelties included film markets online like the Tallin Black Market, and secure "video libraries”.
"We can get statistics about who watched the film and for how long, manage special access for distributors and journalists for example, include certain territories, work by invitation…" said Tillman Sheel, director of online platform ReelPort, of the video libraries. “[Globally,] it’s important to know what we want to do with technology: target groups, rights, if we want to generate more admissions to the festival or just advertise..."
Each target group has its own social networks, agreed the panel, and identifying these is crucial to good communication. According to Renaud Visage, from Eventbrite, questions that the public wants to know about festivals are mainly; “Who will be there?” and “Who will we meet?”.
Not all were seduced by the idea of online screenings for selected films after or even during a film festival, notably because of the negotiations involved to acquire the rights to the films, but several attempts to hold such screenings are underway with the support of sponsors.
Finally, giving professionals the possibility to see films online was all very well, but film festival directors should not forget that “nothing compares to sitting in a cinema with a real audience”, as experience has shown that juries who have seen films on DVD or on an iPad often make completely different choices than when they see them in a cinema.
Among the many participants at the two-day IFFS event were Jérôme Paillard (director of the Film Market at Cannes), Giorgio Gosetti (director of the Venice Days and in charge of the programme of the Reykjavik Film Festival), Chris Fujiwara (artistic director of the Edinburgh Film Festival), and Régine Hatchondo (general director of Unifrance).
(Translated from French)