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Indie Memphis Builds on Success in Planning 2016 Festival

Coming off a banner year, Indie Memphis enters 2016 on a solid financial foundation built upon its most successful Film Festival yet. Nearly 10,000 filmgoers and hundreds of volunteers attended 60 screenings and events over eight days last autumn.

The 18th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, which ran Nov. 3-10 in venues around Overton Square and South Main, generated more than $250,000 in revenue and concluded the season with a surplus of $85,000. These funds allowed a reserve fund to be established and will enhance the year-round programs for 2016.

“We received tremendous support from Duncan-Williams, Inc. early in 2015 during a rebuilding time for our organization,” Watt said. “Their commitment to our festival for five consecutive years has been the cornerstone to our success and stability.”

AutoZone and Starz Digital rounded out the marquee sponsors for the 2015 festival, both companies provided passes for their employees to enjoy the screenings and events.

Grants and consulting services from ArtsMemphis also played a vital role in boosting the series, Watt added, along with support from the Hohenberg Foundation, Tennessee Arts Commission, Mark Jones, Downtown Memphis Commission, Tennessee Film Commission and the Memphis & Shelby Country Film & Television Commission.

A team of sponsors elevated the marketing presence: Witz Creative (design), RocketFuel (social media) and New School Media (video campaigns). Paradox Catering supplied delicious food at receptions and parties along with numerous vendors managed by Salt Style and Events. Firefly Grip & Electric provided lighting for photography and signage.

Scheduling played an integral role, Watt said, and shifting away from the Halloween weekend proved beneficial for festival goers and filmmakers alike. The 2015 Indie Memphis Film Festival, which expanded from four to eight days, alternated programming between Midtown sponsor venues Malco Studio on the Square, Circuit Playhouse and Hattiloo theatre and the new Halloran Centre was added as the feature Downtown site to further heighten awareness and accessibility of the event. Over 120 films were featured including nine blocks curated by shorts programmer Brighid Wheeler.

A new ticketing system provided by sponsor Eventive led to a more accurate picture of how many seats were available, Watt said, and allowed pass holders to reserve seats online for specific films. And Memphis Music was prominently featured, with live performances by local artists taking place before each screening, curated by John Miller at Shangri-La Records.

The IndieGrants program to fund Memphis short films will continue in 2016 along with the festival call-for-entries announcing in March. Over $21,000 of grants and prizes was awarded in cash and services to filmmakers in 2015.

“We’re going to build on the success and feedback from last year to continually improve the festival experience going into this year.” Watt said