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The overall goal is to keep it solvent, then make a little money and turn that around, because we are nonprofit, and put it into educational projects. It’s our goal. [The backing] is a testament to the fact that the community wants to see this film festival succeed. It speaks volumes for Sedona.
Ticketing: Septimus Josif Bean
Septimus Josif Bean oversees the nuts-and-bolts side of the Festival; one of the biggest behind-the-scenes changes this year is an information systems upgrade that promises to radically improve the audience experience by streamlining the way festivalgoers get their tickets. He is also very much involved in the Festival organization’s efforts to expand its role in film education in Sedona and Northern Arizona.
Sedona Monthly: How will this year’s audience find the ticket operation improved?
Septimus: We have a brand-new database system that was custom-built for us. It allows us to streamline ticket distribution, alleviating lines. This year, Priority pass holders will be able to begin picking up tickets on Mon., Feb. 28, for any movie screening at any time; before, when we were handling ticketing manually, we couldn’t distribute any tickets until the day of the screening. General pass holders can pick up tickets in the morning for any film they’d like to see that day. Last year, we could only distribute those tickets two hours in advance. Individual tickets for a screening, if available, will go on sale two hours before – it was five minutes in the past.
We’ve also instituted a Six-Film Flex Pass, which should be great for locals, all those people in Sedona who are working and can’t spend all day long watching movies for four days. It covers six admissions for $50.
What are the educational priorities?
Enhance our internship program, which we’ve already started; work with the area schools; hold summer film camps; fund small local films by students. We can do it; we have the focus, the determination, the right vision. This is by far the best structure, sense of organization and leadership we’ve had.
Making the Cut
How the Festival lineup is selected
How does the Sedona Film Festival select the 100 or so films audiences will see during its four-day lineup from the 500-700 submissions received? That’s a job for the volunteer movie lovers who pan a lot of sand to find that elusive gold nugget. “You have to really love film,” says executive director Patrick Schweiss, “because [the submissions] can be horribly frustrating. My wife won’t watch them with me any more. I’ve probably seen 150 films since July, and there are viewers who have watched much more than me.”
Twenty film screeners – all volunteers, now managed by new Festival Manager Kathy Perry – since July have been filing into the office and checking out films. Every film that comes in is seen by at least three people. Screeners take home a review card and rate each film in five categories — cinematography, sound, acting, directing and content — on a scale of 1 to 10, and indicate “In” or “Out.” Linda K. Smith, who heads up the selection committee, tabulates the results, and presents those that get across-the-board acclaim. Smith, Schweiss, operations manager Septimus Josif Bean and Perry also watch and weigh in. “It’s not rocket science,” says Schweiss, “but it’s an incredibly patterned process.”