Starting a Free Film Festival – where to begin?

If you’ve found out about Free Film Festivals, seen what’s on, and are interested in starting a Free Film Festival in your area, where’s a good place to start?

The idea to have a local Free Film Festival usually starts with one or two people, or an existing community cinema group, who then look to get more people, venues and volunteers involved.

You might want to arrange a public meeting in a local venue (such as a pub, meeting room or hall) to spread the word and bring other people together to share the idea.

The purpose of the meeting it to build a small group of people to start to make it happen. Many of the existing festivals started in exactly this way.

You could use your existing networks (online forums, noticeboards, local press, local radio, your own friends and acquaintances) to spread the word about your plans for a Free Film Festival in your area.

If you like, we can give you a sample press release. We can also link you up with someone who co-ordinates one of our existing festivals, if you’d like to chat to someone who’s already helped to start one.

We’ll also try and make sure one of the existing festival co-ordinators comes along to your meeting too, is possible.

The first meeting is just to start the ball rolling. Organise a second meeting and use the same channels to spread the word, and more people will get to hear about it. Maybe start social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter are used by all the fests).

If you believe it’s definitely going to happen (and why shouldn’t it?!) you’ll more than likely be amazed at who will come forward to help.

Have a think about possible venues and films you’d like to show. Maybe go and chat to a couple of venues to get them on board, so you can tell people at the meeting that you already have venues interested.

If you like, we can link you up with one of the other festival organisers so you can get advice on things like funding (mainly to cover film licences), marketing and programming, if you would find that helpful.

We can probably let you have projection equipment at no or low cost too, including training so you know how to use it.

Also, if you’d like to chat to people who are already running a Free Film Festival you’d be welcome to come to one of the informal planning meetings which all the festivals hold, or just email me (neil[at] if you want to know more or have any questions. I’d be really pleased to try and help.

Neil Johns, co-founder, Free Film Festivals