Austin Film Festival is a non-profit organization founded in 1993 that hosts events year-round to bring insight into the film industry. Events include a festival and conference, a Young Filmmakers program (with summer camps and classes), a TV show, and radio show featuring guests such as Jenny Han, the writer behind the Netflix Original To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. AFF is best known around the world for their October Austin Film Festival and Conference. The festival has premiered several Oscar winning films and every year it premieres the winning film of their extremely competitive film competition. The festival also consists of workshops on the core elements of screenwriting and filmmaking, roundtables and meet-and-greets with established screenwriters, and interactive panels with influential figures in the film industry, such as Natalie Portman and James Franco.
We had two wonderful representatives from AFF at this week’s Tuesday Speaker Event: Project Manager Miller Mauldin and Marketing Director Anna Zschiesche. They both started off as interns for AFF and have gone on to accept full time offers. They gave us the inside scoop on AFF’s marketing strategy, brand perception, and opportunities to get involved!
AFF Marketing Strategy:
The AFF marketing strategy is heavily centered around a grassroots approach. They send out physical flyers and put up posters around town to target their audience. However, they’re starting to utilize data analytics to learn more about their target audience. Screenwriters and film lovers encompass a large range of people, so using tools such as Google Analytics has helped them dig deeper into their audiences’ demographics. Through analytics, they are able to track who is interacting with them, how often, and where from. This helps them further target ads to that area and prioritize a part of their marketing budget to focus on areas with higher engagement. Important consumer trends have been uncovered from monitoring website traffic. For example, they found out that a significant number of film competition submissions come all the way from Australia! Data analytics has helped them uncover unique and interesting trends as well, such as finding out they were featured in a blog post in Colombia upon noting a spike in activity from that region.
The word festival has had a shift in meaning throughout the years, especially in Austin. When people see the world festival, their minds automatically go to something along the lines of Austin City Limits (ACL). Not really the type of festival we’re talking about here. A major challenge AFF faces is brand perception among those who are unfamiliar with their brand and what they do. They are often compared to SXSW, stated as one of their biggest competitors in the film festival world. Through marketing and advertising efforts, they are trying to shape their brand identity to distinguish themselves from such competitors and highlight what makes them unique- their focus on the writer. They do so by making sure all of their channels are cohesive and accurately convey the message they are trying to send out.
Opportunities to Work With AFF:
When asked about their experience working for Austin Film Festival, both of our speakers said one of the main reasons they love their job is the culture and the people they work with (and the fact that they all bring their dogs to work). The employees at AFF are a small, tight-knit community that thrive in the fast-paced and exciting nature of the film industry. You are all in luck because Austin Film Festival has a ton of opportunities for students to get involved. They offer a variety of marketing internships, but also have a wide range of internships for those not pursuing marketing. You can find a list of available internship opportunities and more information here.
BY PAULA FERREIRA