Film Northants and the funding hollows

Recent publicity about Film Northants winners in the local paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potter mania is reaching hysterical saturation point as HP7:2 premieres across the globe. It even reached the neatly ordered corners of my terraced house this afternoon as my Northampton Chronicle & Echo successor contacted me for a quote about the climax of the uber film/book franchise. A polite email dropped into my mailbox at 3.14pm with the simple subject heading ‘Harry’. Having left my position as features editor two years ago, enough time has now passed for me to be called upon for a film-related quote in my new identity as a film festival organiser. Alas this is only one of my many guises which also come in the form of PhD student, journalism lecturer, freelance journalist and occasional press officer.

Empty pockets

On the film festival front it has been a fraught few months, even without the alliteration. Money has been a recurring topic amongst the Film Northants committee as we waited to see what grants we would receive for our fourth community short film festival. I accidentally discovered we had been awarded funding from Northamptonshire Community Foundation Constance Travis Trust whilst googling ‘Film Northants 2011’ to see if we had any new publicity. They had posted a story on their website about their latest grant awards but didn’t officially confirm it to Film Northants in writing until several weeks later.

Although the grant was a third of the amount we had applied for we were delighted with what we received. That was until we found out the caveats the grant came with. The grant was only to be used for publicity and nothing else. However since we had no other funding we could not run the festival on publicity alone and needed to use some of the money for prizes and running the event. After an initial stern rebuttal the funders were won round when we presented a revised budget and bucket-load of begging. Panic over.

However axing our budget by 70% meant we had to make some tough decisions about prize money, prize numbers and juggle a few things around. Thankfully we received some very kind offers of support (you know who you are) and entrants this year should hopefully barely notice a difference. It does give you an insight into the challenging cuts which had to be made by the Coalition government though.

The funding issue was also a wake up call. Film Northants has to be self-sufficient in order to survive. The committee therefore has put plans in place to generate revenue for 2012 which we think will simultaneously enhance the experience of festival finalists and ceremony invitees. It sounds like marketing speak but genuinely it isn’t. Watch this space.

Positive Publicity

 Despite money worries word has steadily been spreading about the festival. Articles have appeared in the Chron, Evening Telegraph, Buckingham Advertiser Series, R magazine, Northamptonshire Let Yourself Grow, Barton Today, About My Area and myself and Film Northants chair Stacey Swift have done slots on BBC Radio Northampton and Inspiration FM. The event is also popping up on blogs, social media posts and festival listings. This has led to some interesting and bizarre conversations. Last week I had to explain why a film made in Iraq did not meet our criteria (all entries have to be shot in Northamptonshire) and then I had to fend off advertisers from Total Film, my all time favourite film magazine (I’m a subscriber) who did not seem to understand that national coverage would not meet our target audience.

Highs and lows

High point of the month: Finally making contact with a very helpful personal at the county tourist board after months of trying to track someone down.

Low point of the month: Finding out it would cost £2,000 to screen a 60 second Film Northants trailer in Northampton Market Square.

And let’s not even mention the recent picture story in the Chron with not one, but two mistakes…

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