If what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, then we're all wasting our time.
If, on the other hand, we all retain memories of these three days, then a lot of good could come out of the Film Festival Summit held in Vegas this week. The Summit, positioned in early December when very few festivals are held and just about anyone in the film fest industry could participate, is a chance for festival staffers and other industry types to get together and talk shop. Though there are occasional grumbles about the location, programming, or expense of attending, no one denies that the chance to be in a room with a 200+ other festival directors -- from the smallest startup to the biggest of the big boys -- is invaluable.
The first day was technically only a half day but when it bleeds into the late night you can definitely say you've put in a full day's work. The keynote speech by Rick Allen of Snagfilms was followed by a panel about the relationship between panels and distribution. These, however, felt secondary to the networking marathon that took place immediately afterwards on the exhibit floor and then migrated to a nearby restaurant.
I'm going to spare you the gory details in favor of getting down to the show in time for the morning panel with programmers Trevor Groth (Sundance, Cinevegas) and Gary Meyer (Telluride) speaking on "The Art and Philosophy of Curating a Film Festival." I'm guessing that those of you reading will care more about that than about "Board Development for Your Festival" or "Creating Value for Festival Sponsors."
Ultimately, however, this is good for filmmakers. Smaller festivals will definitely benefit from learning about the conventions created by their larger counterparts (even if they decide to flaunt those conventions) and the larger fests will be reminded that filmmakers have a world of choices (large and small) outside their own events. More to come.