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Start Your Own Food Film Festival

Start Your Own Food Film Festival

Articles - Festival Beat

Have you got a hankering to cook up a food and film festival close to home? Here’s some handy information about the dollars and cents you’ll need to make it all happen.

Bryan Pu-Folkes of the 7 International Arts Express Jackson Heights Film & Food Festival ballparked the total cost of his event at $60,000-$80,000. He says a substantial chunk of this amount includes the sweat equity of volunteers as well as in-kind donations from the likes of caterers, trademark lawyers and live A/V and tech support staffers. “We did it on a nickel,” says Pu-Folkes. To raise hard cash, Pu-Folkes secured small grants and held community fundraisers to cover screening fees and equipment rentals. All of the food served was donated by local restaurants.

Over in Tucson, the Slow Food & Film Festival generated $10,000 in net profits during its first year. It helped that festival founder Bob Berzok (who is retired), his wife and their Slow Food cohorts organized the entire festival as volunteers, which saved them a pretty penny on labor costs. Berzok estimates paying $350 to $500 for each film screened along with venue fees of $200 to $400 per day. Slow Food Tucson covered hotel accommodations for guest speakers and moviemakers. Like other foodie film festivals, restaurants offered their goods and services free of charge.

Having restaurants on board seems key to the success of these film-foodie endeavors. James Parrish at the Richmond Moving Image Co-op says he “can’t overemphasize the importance” of his partnership with Mama ‘Zu, a popular Italian restaurant that cooks up the feast for his annual Italian Food & Film Festival. “I don’t know what it would cost if they charged us—it would be a different thing,” says Parrish.

Dorit Dyke, founder of the Raw Film Festival in Hollywood, took out a personal loan of $35,000 to cover her festival startup costs this past year. She’s now working on securing her status as a certified nonprofit organization so that she can tap into the charitable contribution market. An entrepreneur at heart, Dyke says she hopes to have other people do the heavy lifting of organizing her festival in the years to come. “I’d like to see this take off where it can live without me,” she says.

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