Things I realised after the first 4 days of the festival:
a) There is a hell of a lot of things that can go wrong when you are working on an event
b) Working at a festival can be unhealthily stressful
c) I love this job (well, I realised that about 2 months ago, but it bears repeating)
The East End Film Festival kicked off last Friday with the spectacular Opening Night Gala at Genesis Cinema, that included the World Premiere of Dermaphoria, special guest Ron Perlman, a fancy party at Trapeze, lots of alcohol, and exciting networking opportunities. It is really hard to describe with words the feeling that I had during the Opening Night Gala; it was a mixture of excitement, anxiety and relief, mostly because everything worked out fine, at least as far as my responsibilities are concerned.
However, there were a lot of things that went wrong in the first couple of days, proving that running any kind of events requires you to think on your feet and be resourceful. The first few days I got to help out with the management of the EEFF events at Red Gallery, which included Grits 'N' Gravy. Grits 'N' Gravy was the first event that took place in that venue, during the first day of the festival, and things actually got kind of messy. The space was not fully decorated when guests and audience arrived, and due to the fact that it was the first day of screenings, some short films were not properly screen tested and we had to cancel the screening of two of them because, as it turned out, the copies we had were defective. The manager of the venue did her best with what she got but unfortunately it was not enough for a perfect day. Luckily, our guests were happy with the turnout, even though not even half of the venue was full. At least, we were better prepared for the rest of the events there; we took better care of the venue's appearance, screen and sound tested all of the films on time, and advertised the rest of the events better. For instance, on Sunday we had a full house at the World Premiere of a documentary about the Levellers, which was followed by a concert from the iconic indie rock band.
As far as One Stop Film Shop is concerned, all of its activities finished on Saturday and there were a lot of things that one needs to take into account for next year (that is, if they plan to do the same thing next year). First of all, nobody really cares for short talks on film related subjects and that was quite obvious from the minimal turn out. However, a lot of people showed up for the screenings. Especially on Saturday, when we screened the Top 15 films from the My London Film Competition, that the festival organised along with Time Out London. That was even more satisfying for me, because I had the idea for that screening; a way to thank the contestants for their submissions and honour the creme of the crop. Moreover, the space was beautiful, cosy and arty and it increased the visibility of the festival. A lot of people were getting inside asking for information and getting flyers and programmes, proving that such a space can be beneficial for the festival, but only as long as there are more activities and screenings going on inside.
It is quite obvious that festivals need a lot of attention to detail, and extremely good organisation and communication between the whole team. Also, venue managing is super interesting! It might be extremely stressful, but at the same time it is so fulfilling seeing people leaving the venue satisfied, with a smile in their faces.
By the way, I already met a director, a producer and two actors. That is my payment for all the free work that I have been doing!