MASTERCLASS – Film & Young Audiences
New Horizons International Film Festival
Cinema is not dead for young people, but it is certainly under threat. How are we trying to reverse this trend in Poland?
Running a film festival gives you a very clear snapshot of changing audience habits. At New Horizons International Film Festival in Poland, we saw a definite trend in the age of our audience. In 2010, the average age was 27 years old; two years later, the average viewer had aged the same amount, to 29. In 2016, our average age was 32. It’s not surprising: cinema viewership is getting older in general, and in many ways the festival audience was about the same age as the people running it! Yet last year we reversed that trend, with 53% of our new viewers under the age of 24. This kind of result doesn’t come from nowhere: we had to make significant changes in our programming, our marketing, our operations and, most crucially, our attitudes.
Festivals cannot afford to wait to act when it comes to young audiences. I have been in festival screening rooms at major international festivals and at 35 been one of the youngest people in the room. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Poland or our festival. It is clear that everyone is facing the same issue. We all agreed – from huge international festivals like TIFF, to festivals just starting to light up their region – that it is an existential question that needs to be addressed.
The viewer is changing all the time and what gets people into the screen now is not what it was even five years ago. The most significant change is how different the film festival experience is to the majority of young people’s viewing habits. The expectation now is that viewing will be on demand, viewable anywhere and available for free (or ‘all you can eat’ like Netflix). The festival experience happens in a fixed location, in a limited number of shows, and each ticket needs to be paid for. While festivals often have exclusivity of content, given the infinite number of other options just within events or film media, it’s not a strong enough attraction on its own. We’re also up against piracy, greater competition for event spend from music festivals and increasingly fragmented communication channels.
So we knew there were problems and what challenges we need to face. How did we get from there to having young people make up a significant part of our audience? If you want new people to come to your festival, by definition they won’t be connecting with your marketing channels. So how do you go where they are?
You have to break up with tradition…
SPEAKER: MARCIN PIENKOWSKI
Since 2016, Marcin has been an Artistic Director of T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland. Lecturer, film historian, editor and co-author of several books about films.
Between 2011-2015 he was a spokesman and director of PR & marketing of T-Mobile New Horizons IFF, American Film Festival and New Horizons Cinema in Wroclaw – the biggest arthouse cinema in Europe.
He worked as a communication strategist for many Polish film productions, including high-profile artistic films as well as successful blockbusters.
The masterclass is in English and free of charge.
This masterclass is part of VISEGRAD FILM HUB a special programme consisting of masterclasses, workshops, and film screening sessions. Visegrad Film Hub focuses on the four Visegrad countries: Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Poland.
The Masterclass on Accessing New Film Markets is organized by BEAST – International Film Festival in partnership with New Horizons International Film Festival, with the support of THE VISEGRAD FUND.