The forecast is good for BLUE Ocean Film Festival, which had turbulence in gathering funds and support during these tough economic times. The Savannah, Georgia-based festival and conservation summit for underwater filmmakers and marine researchers has raised enough money to host its inaugural event. Debbie Kinder, CEO/executive director, talked with realscreen about how an eleventh-hour rush of support saved the festival.
‘We were a little concerned,’ Kinder says. ‘At the last minute there were a lot of people who stepped forward and said, ‘I really want to see BLUE happen this year,’ and so we are on track.’
Kinder says that the industry conference was shortened a bit and now runs from June 11 to 12, and screenings will run from June 11 to 14, but the spirits are still high among the festival organizers. ‘It has kind of reinvigorated us for 2009.’
No wonder, since it looked like there was a chance the festival would be postponed to 2010, says Kinder. ‘The momentum really ran when people realized that we were in a do-or-die situation; they needed to step up and they did.’
She lists well-known oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle as one of the people who came to the rescue. She was a strong supporter, along with Dan Basta, the head of National Marine Sanctuary System. Other new sponsors include Amphibico, which does underwater video housing, Save Our Seas Foundation and FootageBank HD.
Thanks to all of their sponsors, Kinder says that BLUE is able to cover all the hard costs associated with running a festival, without having to depend solely on film submissions or delegate attendance. ‘We wanted to get enough money so we could deliver the festival even if we did not raise another penny. We got to that number where we knew we could deliver the screenings, have the venues for the industry events, do some very basic marketing and give out awards and have a community festival,’ she says.
The call to submissions is now open on their site. Kinder is hoping for a robust influx of ocean-related films. In the meantime, the organizers are busy working away on the agenda, lining up panels and at the end of the day, hope to have a fun and empowering ocean-related media event.