Can Ann Arbor Film Festival expand?
Leslie Raymond steps in as new executive director.
Published: March 24, 2014
MT: How does the AAFF see itself from a regional perspective? As someone who regularly interacts with the greater Detroit metro region the festival doesn't seem to have much of a presence. What do you think of that?
That's a good question and relates directly to your original question about ideas I'd like to bring coming into this position. I hoped to initiate, and have to a small degree, but hope to keep expanding is trying to bring raise people's consciousness of the festival across SE Michigan in general. I think a lot of that can be done through outreach in Detroit. We have the film festival tour show at through Mothlight Micro Cinema several weeks ago. We are having an event at MOCAD, in conjunction with the festival. There is a little bit of outreach but I think it needs to be a lot bigger.
In the bigger sense there is this funny divide. Ann Arbor is in this kind of bubble. The cross traffic between here and Detroit is limited and I'm not sure why...
MT: Football certainly knows how to bridge that gap.
That's a good point. And it's something I'd like to understand better and solve. I mean, the festival is nationally renown and it certainly has an international presence has been growing over the last 50 years. We have a strong reputation internationally in experimental and art-based cinema. My sense is that we do an okay job on that front because our tour goes around the country. But I think that can be built on.
The Internet has become a vital tool for the film and entertainment industry and festivals across the country have certainly started to capitalize on that, whether it's getting people to be evangelical about the programming or get buzz going for a particular work or finding ways to engage an audience engagement. What, if anything, are you doing to capitalize on that?
We are aware of the social media thing. We have a little bit of a calendar of stuff we want to push out through Facebook and Twitter. I've started to have staff conversations about trying to be conscious of what we're doing and having a social media campaign but I think we should have probably started that process even earlier. Since it's only my first year I'm still trying to get a sense of the shape of the beast and what's the ebb and flow of what we're producing. We only have a full time staff of three so I think we need to find better ways of planning for that next year.
That said, we recently were introduced to a guy named Olson who worked on social media for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival so he's going to work on a project with us during the festival as a VJ where he's going to crowd-source material starting at the members after-party and during the festival. We're trying to encourage people to upload to Instagram with our hash-tag so he can cull material for his VJ mix will result in a clip online and play at one of the after-parties as well during the festival week. Also at the Sunday Awards show we'll have a one or two minute clip of the experiment he's undertaking. The goal is to get greater participation from people attending the festival.
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