Film Festival Viability

Film Festivals are a great way to profile a city and its film business and filmmaking community – which is why there are already 3000 active film festivals annually. But while they look relatively simple to deliver, the competitive success of a festival depends on a combination of the business / operational viability of the festival itself and the entrepreneurial viability of the team’s ability to run the business successfully – including the ability to apply sound business principles and relevant technical expertise to the plan.

Our assessments of festival plans review the following areas:

  • Technical viability – this refers to the products or service that will be offered. Will the Festival do what it is supposed to do? Has the demand been tested? Is it sustainable? Who will attend? What are the planned operations processes? What is required to run the festival practically and successfully? Where will the screenings be? What are the Staff requirements, how easy is it to access these resources and how affordable is it to do so? What are other factors eg. electricity use, waste, public transport?
  • Financial viability: What investment amount is required? What is the cost of staging the festival, the margin and the expense structure? At what levels (both in rand value and in attendance volume) will the project break even and when? How much profit will be made or what is the expected loss after a period of time? Can access to finance be obtained? What returns will the project offer? (Costing exercises, cash flow forecasts and income statements are some of the tools to answer some of these questions.) Furthermore, in terms of financing/funding of the festival, what kinds of sponsorship might be expected? Film Festivals often divide their sponsorship revenues into “Presenting”, “Strategic”, “Media” and “Product” (or variations of this theme.) Partnerships with other international festivals are also useful when attempting to cut the costs of film sourcing films. Critically: can the festival ever survive without government support?
  • Market viability: What is the size of the market/audience? What percentage of the target market needs to be captured to achieve expected turnover levels? Will the festival sell? Why will audiences attend? How will the target market know about the festival? (Product, Price, Promotion and Place.) How restrictive / challenging is the Festival’s proposed “theme”?
  • Legal viability: This refers to contracts and agreements such as exhibition agreements, insurance, registration for VAT, as an employer, for income tax purposes and UIF.

So if you are running a festival, or if you have been asked to fund one in your jurisdiction, let’s talk about how we can help with its viability.


Sarajevo – one of our favourite film festivals.

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