Arts & Culture

New Film Festival Software May Lead to Better Film Festivals

As the 2012 film festival season generates buzz about the latest and greatest in cinematic creation, one producer stands out as a real industry game-changer, and it’s not a film producer. It’s a solution to the organizational and logistical nightmare known as “event management” that for years has governed small- and large-scale festivals.

As technology advances have led to an explosion in independent filmmaking, festival organizers—many of whom are cinematic professionals in their own right—have become increasingly overloaded. If tedious filmfest jobs could be handled effectively by technology, more creators could be freed to pursue their craft, presumably leading to better films, presented in better festivals, receiving better reviews.

Eventival 2.0 is an online film festival software system and database that promises to do just that. Founded in the UK in 2008 by industry influencers Tomáš Prášek, Adrian Johnson, and Dawna Cha, the Eventival company now runs its worldwide development from headquarters in the Czech Republic. The Eventival 2.0 software was designed by these industry insiders to assist festival organizers with every aspect of their overflowing work schedules. The system hosts myriad data related to guests, films, external events, press, and festival minutiae. It assists with scheduling, travel, and back-office operations. And it ensures seamless delivery of mass mail, accreditations, invitations, and payments. Eventival 2.0 allows users to import the Cannes International Film Festival database and offers a visitors page where participants can register, submit films, and update data.

Eventival co-founder and director Tomáš Prášek, who is also known for co-founding festivals EuroConnections and Music On Film–Film On Music and most recently the Film Festival Academy, says it took him fifteen years of working with music and film festivals to discover the managerial gap in the industry.  Since that moment (which occurred around 2000), Prášek has moved quickly to fulfill the market’s need first with a database system entitled DataKal and now with the new and improved Eventival 2.0.

When I spoke to Prášek back in July, he was excited about the upcoming season and Eventival’s potential to facilitate it. He explained that, in a world where IT has become abundant (read: commonplace), the film industry is being inundated by amateur films, worldwide distribution streams, and small-scale festivals. As festival producers search for talent and talent searches for suitable premieres, a cloud of chaos has formed above the cinematic landscape. An economic incentive hardly exists for established companies to develop software for the low-budget world of independent filmmaking. But as the surge in festivals, films, screenings, and travel amplified stress, event managers screamed for a solution. That’s what led the creators of Eventival to perfect and share theirs.

The price for clarity in these fluctuating circumstances is 75,000 CZK (Czech Republic koruna) per year, which comes out to approximately 3,000 euros. With this payment clients receive everything including the creation of their own Eventival database, creation of a personal Visitor Page, administrative access to the database, online remote access and technical assistance, and even online training by Eventival’s multilinguals (fluent in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, and Czech).  The product is provided as SaaS (Software as a Service), requiring only an Internet connection and Eventival account, with no additional hardware or software. Translation? Adoption by any organization is quick and painless. The power of Eventival 2.0, according to Prášek, is that it not only handles multifarious aspects of festival production, but it is compatible with both big mainstream festivals and small startups. The obstacles faced by festival organizers are the same regardless of size.

And Eventival doesn’t stop with film festivals. Its functionality translates easily to other types of events. Eventival 2.0 has already been adopted by more than 60 events—including many non-cinema-related festivals—in 33 countries. Subsequent uses will stem not only from the core film festival market, but will likely include more and more music, literature, and art festivals.

It’s reasonable to fear that increasing digital dependence might lead to the atrophy of human imagination. But Eventival is a counterexample that shows the potential of technology to support—and even extend—our global creative community.

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