Film festivals strive to survive

Economy affecting event sponsorship

A year ago, the Intl. Film Festival Summit in Las Vegas was basking in the fest boom. Fest execs from the world over casually networked by day and gambled hard by night.

That was then.

This year, smart fest execs are looking for one thing: survival tips. The economic downturn is hitting event sponsorship hard, which for IFFS attendees means a lot less wagering and a lot more study.

Waco Hoover, CEO of the IFFS, says they’ve added a particularly relevant panel titled “Recession-Proofing Your Fest,” featuring Melanie Miller, former artistic director of the Jackson Hole Film Festival, which recently shuttered for lack of cash.

“She’ll be talking about what happened, what mistakes were made, how others can learn from them,” says Hoover.

Despite the rain of bad news, Hoover says attendance is up 40%. The org has moved the event closer to the Strip and planned more “networking events” — which for cash-strapped attendees reads simply as “free booze.”

There’s also “Creating Value for Festival Sponsors,” “Advanced Sponsorship Workshop,” and “Success Metrics: Where to Set the Bar?”

“In this economy,” quips one attendee, “the answer is you don’t set a bar.”

IFFS runs Dec. 7-9 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

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