Planning to Attend a Film Festival

The big film festival in Atlantic Canada is the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival which happens in the second week of September every year. I’ve been going for a couple of decades now, so it’s an important part of my filmgoing life. I love being able to track and plan things out and when you see a lot of films, it becomes important to have some sort of system to keep track of it all.

Over the years my preparation has evolved into a routine that I have been following for many years now. I track all of the films that I watch using Letterboxd, so the first step after the program launch is to go through the lineup and create some lists. I usually make two lists, one for the feature fiction films and one for the feature documentaries. It’s a good way to keep track of all of the films that are screening and when I construct the lists it also lets me know if all of the films are in the database that Letterboxd uses.

When I’m building the lists if there is a film that isn’t there I go to The Movie Database and enter the information about it. Then I can add it to the list and then the list will be complete. Then when I start attending the festival I know that I will easily be able to log that film and add it to the list of films that I watched at the festival.

Then I create a calendar (using in Google Calendar) and I’ll go through the schedule day by day and add every film to the calendar using Fantastical and copying and pasting information. After that calendar is created I can use that for planning on what I want to see and easily see any conflicts that there are in the schedule. When there is a film that I want to see I duplicate the entry in the film festival calendar that I created and add it to my personal calendar. Then I have all the films that I want to see on my own schedule.

After all that I dig into the films and write some blog post previews of the films screening at the festival. In digging through the schedule many times you can find films that you missed on first glance and try to figure out what will be hard to see after the festival or what will be relatively easy to see. It’s a balancing act to figure out what to see, but I’ll generally try to seek out the more obscure stuff as well as to take a few chances on films.

With my Letterboxd lists, a full schedule, and a notebook and pen, I’m ready to start seeing films and recording my impressions of them. This system has given me more than a decade of information about the films I’ve seen and has helped me discover many new directors and film movements from around the world.

Chris Campbell @bitdepth