And this is where my sometimes-journalist life comes in handy… part of the festival planning process now (now that the lineup and schedule are set) is dedicated to publications.
We’re in the middle of creating the catalog/directory/program book, whatever you wanna call it. And this is where Cathy Ross and I become editors more than anything else, taking synopses for the feature films and fine-tuning them with writers from around the country. Plus, we have our last brochure of the season, which should be arriving in your mailbox within the next week or so…
Different festivals have different tactics when it comes to making their program books… with us, it’s similar to many but at the same time, we see the book as your map, as your way of managing around and through the enormous amount of films, panels, and events. The goal, as far as we’re concerned, is that no attendee should be left without a question answered, without knowing where something is, when it is, and the best possible way to get there.
It’s not the easiest thing to produce… but it’s also a wonderful document of all the work we’ve done in the last 9 months or so. In other words, I also look at our program book as something to be proud about. When the dust settles after the festival, the biggest reminder that will stand the test of time is this book. Years from now, when we need to reference something that happened at SXSW in 2005, it’s this book we’ll run to. I tend to save my books from every festival I attend, and it can be a really fun process to flip through some of the old ones.
Looking at our office bookshelf now, I see books from Sundance 1994, Toronto 2003, Hamptons 2000, Taos 2003, Cinevegas 1998, Seattle 2002, Cannes 1997, Woodstock 2003, and so on and so on. Of course, I didn’t attend all of these, and I’ve attended many others, but when I look at these books I can think two things: 1. We really need to organize these things by year and name and 2. Any day I want, I can check out what played at any number of festivals in any number of years. I know there are others like me who do this, and many even with the SXSW books we make… as they will with the one we’re making now.