Film festivals originated back in the 1930s when Mussolini was competing with the Hollywood’s fame in Venice and the Cannes were creating a representation of freedom and victory in France. Today the number of film festivals continues to grow gradually as now it’s not just a way to premiere a film or bring it to the audience’s attention, but a great opportunity to enlarge a film’s army of viewers and socialise with the big sharks.

Of course, film festivals started as just social events to declare the power of art, beauty, and film. Nowadays they have become the major development platforms for filmmakers of all kinds and genres. Film festival in the 21st century offers much more than mere show; here filmmakers are able to engage with film production and distribution. The cross-communication was established through talent campuses, lectures, pitch days, and exhibitions to enhance cooperation among filmmakers at all levels. And this fact concerns not only biggest and most famous film festivals but also smaller and narrower ones. For instance, Cannes in 2018 organised a large women conference dedicated to the problems of gender equality that promoted the cooperation of female filmmakers from all over the globe. This year’s Marbella International Film Festival held in Spain organises lecture-workshops for actors and filmmakers of all craft level from Gary Collins (the CEO of Red Rock Entertainment) about film financing and seeking it in the industry and from Steven Berkoff on the secrets of acting.

While the scope of “services” grows gradually at film festivals, the financial needs continue to enlarge respectively. Festivals require more and more support from the local authorities as well as financing offers from the private investors. The questions are how they actually make money to represent a profitable investment opportunity. Here are a couple of words on how film festivals make money and why independent investors do matter.

How film festivals make money

One of the most important reasons why private investment companies and local authorities are interested in financing film festivals is in the social image formed by a festival. A film festival is a cultural event that promotes the public image of an association with education, art, and freedom for anyone involved. All these components are essential for any city to get financing from the country, for example. For a private investor participation in a film, festival investment is a way to be a part of that social image as well as to improve brand visibility.

Besides the great social image, larger film festivals, such as Cannes, Sundance or South by Southwest offer also gift financing for their sponsors. Such gifts are then given to the celebrities in the gifting suites. This means that a company’s name will be put on the wall of the gifting suite against which celebrities pose for the journalists. In this case, one can only imagine how much publicity such an endeavour can provide to any company. While it’s an honourable mission, it’s a costly one as well. Generally, festivals charge about £30,000 for this service while the sponsors get on average about £2 million in advertising in return. So it’s a win-win deal.

Another reason why film festivals are such an attractive investment in the industry is the buzz happening around the event. Celebrities and rumours about them collide with the information about the festival itself, its inner events, and backroom gossips to create an eternal source of information for the press. If a company becomes a major investor at a festival, then its name will be associated with all that news and consequently will be mentioned in all articles and posts written on the topic. This is almost a free positive publicity that can never harm!

Besides the direct participation and obvious perks that film festivals offer to investors, there is another reason film investors are interested in such event. And this reason is communication. Festivals of all sizes and themes attract filmmakers from around the globe; they come to discuss working points, collaborate and set the dates for the upcoming cooperation, and seek for support.

Thousands of young filmmakers present their works at smaller film festivals like Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival, or Marbella International Film Festival. And among hundreds of average films, film investors are able to spot the Holy Grail – a new promising filmmaker whose project is worth the money. Basically, film festivals have become a perfect market for negotiating deals and looking for the next opportunities. Such investors as Red Rock Entertainment say that they even hire a particular person to attend relevant festivals in the search of new investment opportunities.

Bottom line

The idea of a film festival has changed since Mussolini’s times. Today film festivals act as perfect platforms for enlarging your filmmaking circle and getting the right connections during the event. Private investors get more and more interested in film festivals due to the opportunity of a positive public image and viral advertisement all over the world.

Author's Bio: 

Elena Sheplyakova, independent writer, blogger.
Concentrates her attention on small business issues, online marketing tips, home improvement and organization, healthy eating habits, family living, personal finance management, self-confidence, self-improvement ideas, useful life hacks and beauty tips.