The film festival scene is one of the most lucrative in film, attracting nearly $5 billion in worldwide revenue in 2016, according to a study by the Entertainment Industry Association (EIA).
But even in the midst of that boom, many film festivals are experiencing an exodus of attendees.
Last year, the number of people coming to film festivals fell by 25 percent from the previous year, according a study published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).
And while that drop is still significant, the EIA found that a lot of those dropouts are men.
Among film festivalgoers under 35, about two-thirds of the participants are men, according the study.
And the reason is pretty simple: Many of the festivalgoers who do attend film festivals, and who have made the film, don’t know that they’re attending an event.
In a recent study, EIA researchers surveyed more than 600 film festivals around the country and found that, among those who did attend film events, most of them were unprepared for the challenges that awaited them.
In one recent example, attendees at the Chicago Film Festival didn’t know the rules of the event until the last minute, and were unprepared to handle the logistics of the screening process.
The study also found that many festivalgoers were unaware of the rules or expectations for film festival attendees, and that many film festival participants also didn’t understand how to interact with others during screenings.
In other words, film festival attendance was not just a film festival problem; it was a cultural problem.
What are the next steps?
EIA is now taking steps to educate film festival audiences and to make sure that the film festivals that are in the future are able to provide a more welcoming environment.
One of those steps is a new initiative called Cinema in the Park.
EIA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education and advocacy for film festivals and related industries, is working with a network of community and non-profit partners to create and run a film and festival camp program that will help film and film festival visitors and attendees navigate the film and documentary festival experience.
EIAs outreach program will include a film education program, workshops, film and music education, film screenings and presentations, and other events and resources to help attendees learn about the festival experience and connect with other festivalgoers.
The program will also focus on ways to help festivalgoers navigate the festival scene.
To help with that, EIAS is also partnering with several other community and nonprofit organizations to expand the Cinema in The Park program.
These partnerships include the EIAM (Electronic Media Assistance Program), the American Film Festival Alliance (AFFA), the International Film Festival Association (IFFA), and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
EIA will be coordinating the program with the programs of these and other community organizations and the Film and Music Education Association (FEMA), the Association of Film Editors, and the Independent Film Alliance.
These groups have the resources to support film and media education, which is what EIas program will be doing.
To learn more about EI’s Cinema inThe Park initiative, go to www.filminthepark.org.
EIU has partnered with film and entertainment professionals to help inform festival attendees about the screening experience and how to get involved.
ESI has teamed up with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and several film and technology organizations to provide educational workshops for festival attendees and attendees of other film and television productions.
EII has partnered up with film students to develop workshops that will address the issues surrounding film and the film festival experience, as well as how to engage with and collaborate with film makers.
Finally, EIU is partnering with other film festivals to create more awareness about film festivals by creating an interactive film festival map, and by publishing an EIA-approved film festival guide to help people plan their film festivals.
What is next?
Film festivals are in great shape.
As festival attenders and exhibitors, we have a responsibility to protect our communities and our industry from the most harmful elements of the culture and the events that surround them.
That means taking steps like educating festivalgoers, creating awareness, and organizing the film industry’s response to issues like violence and harassment.
For more information about EIA’s film and filmmaking programs, visit www.eia.org/film.
EIB is an independent, nonprofit research organization dedicated with research and educational initiatives to advance knowledge and improve the world through media and communications technology.
EIM is an agency of the American Institute of Journalists, which publishes The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and publishes the Wall Street Week newsletter.
Visit the EIM website at www.emilysims.org or follow her on Twitter at [email protected]