How your film festival can build sponsorship and funding

Posted on April 28, 2016 by Duncan Carson

Categories: Training & Conferences

Vilnius Symposium
Mindaugas Morknas (Head of Festival Development, Vilnius IFF), Catharine Des Forges (Director, ICO), Brooke Duval (Director of Corporate Partnerships at TIFF) and Astrid Hallenstvedt (Director of Sponsorship, Stockholm Film Festival) at Vilnius International Film Festival. Photo: Audrius Solominas

Every film festival wants more sponsorship and stronger relationship with funders. Linking your festival’s identity closely to its host city has surprisingly powerful results for both. Cementing this link is something we’ve discussed at our Developing Your Film Festival training over the last five years and with the continuation of the cold economic climate, there’s no reason to shy away from find new opportunities. The Independent Cinema Office was in Lithuania at Vilnius International Film Festival (or Kino Pavasaris to locals) to discuss these issues at our Film Festival Symposium (in partnership with Vilnius International Film Festival and Creative Europe – MEDIA) with the some of the festivals who have made the most of this connection. So what did we learn?

How to find and keep corporate sponsors

Toronto International Film Festival generates $14 million a year in sponsorship. Brooke Duval (Director of Corporate Partnerships at TIFF) talked through ways your festival can think more strategically about reaching your sponsorship goals. In the video, Brooke covers:

  • How to broaden your target list beyond the usual suspects
  • What do potential sponsors want to know about your festival?
  • How does Toronto retain 80% of their sponsors from year to year?
  • What key trends will excite potential sponsors and make your festival an attractive partner?

How do you prove your film festival makes an economic impact?

Most festivals are good at demonstrating their cultural capital, but with funding budgets stretched, how do you show that your festival delivers economic growth? What are the key metrics that funders want to know about how your festival is adding to the city? Roberto Cueto of San Sebastian Film Festival talks you through their approach to proving their worth in this video, telling you:

  • How to show your festival adds to your city’s international reputation
  • How to demonstrate that public funding for your festival will unlock big benefits for tourists and locals alike
  • How to demonstrate the value of the free advertising your festival gives its host city
  • How social media (especially Ewan McGregor’s Instagram!) can help your festival profile

Here’s five top tips from across the day that festivals of any size should think about:

    • You need one dedicated person working on business and sponsorship.
    • Set a goal for how much sponsorship you need, and consider (realistically) how much time it will take. There are way more prospects than sponsors. Start small, work with your own contacts first.
    • What decision makers do you know? Invite them to your festival.
    • Ensure everyone on your team is on message and on the look-out for possible partners. Don’t discount volunteers – they may have contacts too!
    • Offer social benefits: invite sponsors to get together away from the festival, or hold a thank-you party for them after the event.

To find out more and apply for ICO’s Developing Your Film Festival course, which has helped over 100 international film festivals understand and reach their goals, click here.

Vilnius Symposium 3
Cristian Hordila, Transylvania IFF, Catharine Des Forges, Algirdas Ramaka (Vilnius International Film Festival) and Sarah-Jane Meredith (British Film Institute Film Fund). Photo: Tautvydas Stukas

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