5 Lessons from CPH:DOX & IDFA

10 Dec 2014

In November, our managing director Aimara Reques attended the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival and Forum (CPH:DOX) and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) to meet with industry specialists and pitch upcoming Aconite projects.

During her time there she thought a lot about the value of attending these kinds of film festivals and industry markets and forums.

So, here Aimara shares five key points and tips she has learned on how to make the most of your next film festival experience.

1. Attend!

It’s that simple. Events like IDFA and CPH:DOX, which have a selected number of attendees,  are amongst the most important European gatherings for creative talent and companies to promote their work.

Attending these Forums is crucial to the growth and development of your business. While there are costs involved and it means taking time out of your busy filmmaking schedule, my advice is this: try not to miss them if you really take your business seriously.

2. Do Your Research

Find out before travelling who is attending, what they do and identify those who may be interested in your project.

We like to research and contact decision makers in advance. These are the people who may be interested in your project – so let them know you are coming and request meetings as early as possible.

3. Schedule Your Trip

Check the program in advance and plan your schedule ahead. I wish I could take my own advice! Don’t do what I usually do, i.e. read the programme on the plane on your way there!

Trust me, you will save time and enjoy the experience more if you are familiar with the programme.

You’ll always find out about more things that are happening outside of the main programme when you talk to fellow delegates, so make sure there is some flexibility in your plan.

Knowing the programme well will allow you to make decisions about what to attend and what to miss, which brings me to my next point…

4. Curb Your FOMA (Fear of Missing Out)

There is lots to do, to see and watch while at events like CPH:DOX and IDFA, especially if you’re taking in the main festival programme as well as more specialised Forum events. So don’t despair  trying to attend them all!

Check the daily Festival and Forum updates (these are usually posted in the delegate centre or sent by email) and then decide what is maybe relevant or appealing to you.

Also, find out what your friends and colleagues are up to. They usually know something that you don’t!

5. Network

At network events, getting to know people as human beings is far more important and effective than looking for every opportunity to bore people pitching your ideas.

At Aconite, we have found that the best working relationships we have, were established through first getting to know our future colleagues. We may not have known we would work together at the time, but a valuable contact is far more likely to develop from this rather than with someone you have given the hard sell to at cocktail hour.

Don’t forget to get a business card from the people you’ve connected with and send a follow-up email.

What are your top tips for attending film festivals and forums? Let us know in the comments!

(Photograph courtesy of Ben Kempas.)