Meet MIFF: different ‘angle’ of Volunteer in festival events

112In the early August of 2018, I was very fortunate to participate in Melbourne International Film Festival as a visitor for the first time of my life by selecting Film festival study tour. Although I had one chance to cooperate with Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival as local executive team in 2016 Hohhot, China, helping with volunteer management and manpower deployment. What really interested me was that 12 MIFF volunteers can be seen along the hall way from the venue entrance to our seats. In festival events, volunteers are indispensable from entrance to backstage, even famous as MIFF.(As official blog of MIFF shows, more than 350 people are volunteering in MIFF each year, divided into 7 shifts.) So let’s talk about different angle of volunteer usage in festivals, using ICAR RUSHING music festival as an example.


ICAR RUSHING is my music festival located in Inner Mongolia, China, starts since 2016, with more than 30,000 visitors each year. Our core team only have 26 people, except for casts and mechanics, thus a big part of my team who make this event happening are volunteers. This year, we launched a new volunteer management plan with social media WeChat, so that volunteers can participate in the promotion, sales and execution of the music festival according to their interests. Now our festival just finished at 20th Sep2018, these results are presented. This plan not only solves the problem of unsuccessful task delivery and feedback in our previous activities, but also expands the promotional coverage of the event and helps stabilize the on-site security.微信图片_20180925191104

Firstly, the initial stage volunteer recruitment should be finished before the festival entered the preparatory stage.

Secondly, Establish an independent department for volunteers and set up one WeChat task group as communication method to deliver propaganda.

Thirdly, In the communication stage, name volunteers the ambassadors of the festival in online propaganda and let them help with all stages of communication by sharing their personalized article on WeChat moments. And the follow-up recruitment of volunteers is carried out simultaneously.

Fourth, In the pre-sale phase, ambassadors can choose to become a WeChat distributor of this event by adding ticketing link in their personalized propaganda. (The dividend and reward system can be determined according to the specific activities.)

Fifth, Group volunteers according to festival needs and set up rotation schedule. During the performance, all volunteers are not allowed to leave the venue. Except for one group on duty, rest of volunteers can freely move on-site and keep security assistant in mind to supervise the scene. If an emergency is found, it can be reported to crisis management through the WeChat group at any time.


The original purpose of this plan is to maximize the sense of participation of volunteers while maximizing the benefits of using we-media. Target market is local citizens, apart from mass media, we-media make the event closely related to potential audience, especially if their friends or relatives are involved in it. After the show, our volunteers’ work feedback turns out they not only became loyal fans of BIGHOT music festival, but also formed memorable friendships with each other.

Volunteer using has always been a controversial topic, traditional volunteers which almost can be equalized to free labour, is becoming a limited understanding of volunteer. As a music festival direc微信图片_20180925190359tor, presenting an impressive event under insufficient budget is a daily routine. I have to consider diverse demands and interests, which we can provide them incidentally to fairly exchange their labor and time, of our potential volunteers. As a convener of volunteers,  I would admit volunteers’ work is indispensable, especially for medium or small size festival. But I’m working hard to meet the needs of everyone who is willing to support us, so that this “trade” not just involving money can be a fair deal.

Historical Theory, Practice and Methods in Film Festival


Over the last decades Film Festival has indicated a prominent growth. Within a short duration it has taken over the entertainment industry and has still blossomed globally. Due to this rapid growth this report focuses on the literature of this subject growth by examining the theoretical, historical, methodological and practical background of Film Festival. The history includes the origin of Film Festival and its development. Nevertheless, this report also explores on the archival and ethnographic research which is incorporated in the programming practice. Theoretically, Film Festivals are perceived as open air viewing whereby a crowd attends and the event dominates over the public by offering a feeling of happiness and glamour which also portrays celebration (Marijke, Brendan & Skadi, 2016).  The feeling is also driven out to a point whereby one feels they are part of one community through a social environment.

These events have the power to generate news of various opinions that further make impacts on the social and historical changes. One of the changes that have led to the diversity of Film Festival is the method of screening festivals. Regarding technological changes, there has been conversion of movies that are viewed in theatres to the digital form (VALLEJO, 2017). Many Festivals are now being converted to DCP format. This however has not outdone the format of analogue projection which looks appealing for some film festivals style. Historically early cinema presentation of silent films was a technological style in Film Festival that was preserved and still thrills the modern audience.

The preservations can be portrayed through cultural projections, as in the case of silent shown films at archival film festivals. The preservation depicts the transitional method of a quality festival execution whereby a theatrical projection or big open air screens are used. Most Film festivals are comfortable with this kind of traditional setting, and then later they can explore other exiting digital media platforms like iPod, televisions and monitors. The reason for using these digitalized programs is because the filmmakers would also wish to reach out to other locations like hotel rooms or even churches and open-air screening limits. Even with the digital dominant festival setting there is a likelihood of a new error of film festivals coming up and taking over (Baumann, 2001).

The historical nature of Film Festivals is part of a worldwide cultural field. There have been several turning points in the expansion of Film Festival organizational structure. On the other hand many events have influenced general archives of the history of film festivals. The practical aspect of filmmaking also requires factual information linked to the film and also a connection of linked events which form up a whole event. The target audience is also important whereby film makers will have to identify the type of audience as a general public, a professional audience or specific communities. A thematic outline that is relevant is also a core element in filmmaking practice. In summary, the whole process of film making involves a lot of activities linked together to bring out one picture that is explicitly curatorial in nature. A unique history of events should also be explicitly selected and scrutinised.






Baumann, S. (2001). Intellectualization and art world development: Film in the United States. American Sociological Review, 404-426.

Marijke de Valck, Brendan Kredell, & Skadi Loist (2016) History, Theory, Method & Practice



Management of events in films is not simply defined by festival reports, event recaps, notes used to program the film or even from what the press says about the film. Not even the existence of a blue print will make film management simpler. The true facts behind film management are characterized by events that are structurally easy to explain when observed. This can be exhibition sites, places where films are collected for screening. The tentative nature of such events portrays qualities of festival organization that inspire film management and answers questions of film organisers. These managerial characteristics have been adopted by festival directors on many occasions. For instance, Mill Valley Film Festival organizers focused on the experiences and observations they came across from Telluride Film Festival to come up with their own. However coping does not actually offer the best solutions to difficulties that come up in film management because observations or rather attending an event only offer a fraction of the operational complexity the event displays (Fischer, 2013).

For an event to be successful a lot of co-ordination is involved, time involvement, negotiations and endless efforts are required. Film festival functionality entails the basic concepts which lay out the conceptual framework for film management.  The framework provides purposeful highlights that are vital for a sustainable and successful festival film management. The explained concepts are not engrossed with glamour for an event to look sexy but focus on the organizational arrangements which command how the festival should be.  Nevertheless, conceptualization of connecting basic tips of operational film events is a process that requires assessing required dots of operation and identifying some that can be done away with. This is because some aspects can seem technical, pedantic and even laborious thus leading to a distorted event.

Clear conceptual links provide a clear picture of the film festival operation. The said links start by understanding the whole system of a film festival that requires assemblage of many parts that form a complex sequential whole. A systematic film festival operation can be considered successful through a combination of programs and guests will attend and finally the complex components that are portrayed by how united the events are. Viewing of the film only is rewarding tool that indicates the consequential nature of the many made decisions.

The managerial process should not exclude the filmmakers, bodies that fund the event and any distributor to the event. Managerial decisions to the inclusion of these groups and individuals should reflect well as a unified event (Ruoff, 2012). The process of film management also requires a logical perspective of operation whereby one will identify procedural drawbacks that come up. Before the whole work is screened a series of interrelated elements and events should be considered. Selected films that are meant for programming are viewed through issued screeners by sales agents or distribution companies. The selection can alternatively be done through bringing fourth an individual who is involved in the film production in the media stories. This will actually motivate the festival organizers to pursue the film for programming.

In summary, the framework provides purposeful highlights and guidance that are vital for a sustainable and successful festival film management. An organised film festival operation can be considered successful through a blend of programs and guests who will attend and finally the compound components that are portrayed by how united the events are.





Fischer, A. (2013). Sustainable projections: Concepts in film festival management. St Andrews: St Andrews Film Studies.

Ruoff, J. (2012). Coming soon to a festival near you: Programming film festivals. Scotland: St Andrews Film Studies.

Digital Disruption

Easy access to digital media has brought forth its impacts to both individuals and institutions. Film festivals not being an exemption of the impact of digital disruption, has faced consequences since the consumers have the freedom of downloading films without having to wait for their theatrical release in order to see them. The main actual issue is whether the film festival network will remain relevant in this era of digital media, with particular interest in the methods of convergence affecting film festival network. Convergence is the drift of content across various media platforms, cooperation amongst media industries, and the trending patterns of the audience that makes them be everywhere in search of the entertainment that they want. There are three phases of that one can differentiate the development of convergence. The first phase being media ownership; the second being digitisation of operating systems; and the last being content with potential of being streamed through multiple media platforms.


An example in the concrete evaluation of digitisation is when the International Film Festival Rotterdam came up with a programme that held the title ‘Exploding Cinema’. The title itself becomes a basis for debating on the issue of convergence, since the use of such a strong metaphor depicts that the festival put much focus on aesthetics rather than a sustainable place that film would continue been exhibited. Festivals therefore can assume to taking on different tasks such as: changing the programming process, reporting on current aesthetic trends, sorting out films that are brought in numbers for selection, and regulating festival markets in order to meet demands in the progressively growing media environment (Tryon, 2013) With no doubt, digital developments have had an impact on film operations (artistic and commercial). By looking at these impacts, one can be able to question how they will affect the future of the film festival in the long run.

Digitisation has brought forth a huge shift in the media ownership, from one that was industry based around cinema theatres to one that operates around copyright. This is because it is not profitable for cinema theatres to operate in the copyright industry especially in the film commercial life cycle. With the current advanced digital technologies, it becomes even more profitable since media products can be distributed easily in a much quicker inexpensive way. In an article termed as the ‘Long Tail’ (Anderson, 2006) showed how profits on niche products would compete with those from items with mass popularity. This would lead to a huge split through which industrialised societies work normally. Through the ‘Long Tail’ model we can therefore comprehend on the impact that digital distribution has to the film festivals. The model also has three rules it operates on: low prices, availability and assisted search strategies. The third rule being critical for niche films, since people will not opt to find for products they have no knowledge of such as the case of several films screened at the film festivals.

In the current environment where digital development is advanced in terms of effective branding and strategies, it is with no doubt that festival films cannot match up to be available  on-line. In order to curb digital disruption, film festivals with no doubt need to create a socio-cultural environment where the audience is motivated enough to view and contemplate the films. They would also consider drawing more attention by having alternative and captivating titles for the films. However, digital disruption will continue posing a challenge to film festivals since more developments are being made often and are better strategically.


Anderson, C. (2006). The long tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more. New York: Hyperion.

Tryon, C. (2013). On-demand culture: Digital delivery and the future of movies.