One of the most valuable skills I have gained from this experience is how to successfully navigate a large-scale film festival. I have spoken to colleagues before who, through lack of experience, have attended festivals and seen few films because they were unfamiliar with the booking/queuing processes etc.
Cannes is a massive festival and being able to successfully plan a day to pack in as many films, events and meetings as possible took a lot of planning and logistics. I always thought I was pretty good at time and task management but my week in Cannes and certainly improved that. I spent time researching the programme, calculating distances and routes from each cinema, factoring in food breaks and having back ups in case I didn’t get into my first choice. My planning paid off and I was able to see 25 films and only got turned away from 2 screenings (one due to capacity and the other a lack of information as it didn’t contain English subtitles).
As programmer of a year-round season of industry preview screenings in the Midlands, the experience has given me access to a slate of films I will consider programming as part of the Film Hub Midlands preview offer, e.g. BIRDS OF PASSAGE, THREE FACES, PETRA etc.
This direct industry knowledge is important to stay on top of new releases, offer informed member support, capitalise on trends and to champion independent film in the region not only as a programmer but also as an advocate of independent film and helping to ensure that Film Hub Midlands communications stay relevant.
Depending on some as yet unconfirmed release schedules some titles may be fit for Flatpack 13 and I have had a feedback meeting with the programming team, sharing my recommendations and this knowledge has led to me having a greater input into the 2019 programme.
As a main contributor to Filmwire (Film Hub Midland’s monthly film mailer) I have been able to further develop my copy-writing and review writing skills by reviewing some of the films I saw in Cannes, which has led to further professional development as I have been commissioned to write a review for Electrolyte magazine (readership circa 20,000).
One of the things I found extremely valuable was the opportunity to network with distributors and programmers both internationally and nationally, particularly with other key FAN staff and members. It was a rare opportunity to take the time to meet up and discuss FAN programmes and strategies that we wouldn’t otherwise have time to do in person or in as much detail. As a result I feel better connected to the network and have developed new relationships and now feel that I have a wider pool of contacts to draw upon.
I received festival mentoring from Film Hub Manager, Eleanor Thornly, which I found invaluable. Having someone to guide me through the process made is easier to navigate and ensured I got the best possible experience. It was great having someone to make introductions to exhibitors and distributors that I may not otherwise have met. Festival mentoring is something I will be proposing we formally integrate into the Film Hub Midlands bursary scheme to further enhance the FHM training and development programme.
Having never attended a large-scale international festival before I feel more confident attending such events and being able to represent Flatpack and Film Hub Midlands and the work we do at the highest level.
Amy received a bursary award from Film Hub Midlands.