Doors opened, eyes opened, and mouths opened when the clock struck 7 at the True Lies Film Festival 2009. There was a buzz amongst the 250 people who filled the downstairs area at 10Bar. Flocking to the bar and digging deep into the lolly jars, the audience was prepared for a show. And a show it was.
After the first 5 films were premiered, music from the live band entertained the audience for a brief interval. A return to viewing of the last 4 films concluded what 322 students had worked so hard to create. Of course no talent can go unrewarded, and the judges awarded prizes to the lucky ‘select few’.
The Festival in its official form was over. The Festival in its unofficial form was just getting started… As the band continued, many happy feet took to the stage. True Lies 2009 didn’t wind down; and to that, the night was a success.
“Had such an awesome night. The films, drinks and food were so well done. Can’t wait for next year.” – Julian Darlison (Student)
The 2009 festival was planned by a group of eleven students: Carla Marven-Orsborne, Laura Beggs, Devon Taylor, Ruby Nelson, Lucy Archer, Sarah George, Cara Dickman, Rebecca Aiken, Caroline Arapoff, Joey Chen, and Rachel Forbes. Rather than joining their colleagues in creating short films, we decided to put our talents towards the creation of an entire event, working on the design, marketing, and business aspects of putting on a film festival.
Each year’s festival has a different theme which plays on the idea of truth and lies. The past years’ have been good, this year’s was great! The idea we ran with focused on the childhood lies every boy and girl were told when they were young: stories and small fibs fed to children by parents, teachers and society.
Through this theme we re-introduced the most recognized, fictional characters we all loved, and then questioned… Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. We were intrigued by the idea of the truths behind these seemingly innocent lies.
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This theme was portrayed throughout the event on posters, tickets, T-shirts, programmes and drink menus. We tried to continue this theme as much as possible throughout the event. Subtle decoration of the venue with balloons, lolly jars and mellow lighting created a childhood-like atmosphere.
Design came in the shape and form of the various print media items: posters, tickets, event programme and drink menus. Contained in all of these was the image of the three ‘True Lies’ figures: the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and of course Santa Clause. We were also careful to use our logo consistently throughout these media forms. The combination of the two created a recognizable image of 2009’s TrueLies Event.
This brilliant design would have been a waste of time had it not been for our strategic and effective marketing campaign. By acknowledging what media was most commonly interacted with by students, we were able to effectively communicate maximum awareness of the Event.
- The Critic magazine is something which most students look at. We utilized this exposure by placing a description in the ‘void clothing playtime report’ gig guide.
- The radio is also a media outlet which we wanted to utilize. We did this through The Edge which sponsored and provided us with $10,000 worth of air time in the week leading up to the event. We also had an interview on Radio One which attracts listeners from a different audience than The Edge.
- Cow TV actually came to us! This not only showed how effective our marketing was, but also the scale that True Lies festival had reached. This provided post-buzz. On Monday 5th October, Cow TV aired a report on True Lies which included footage of the event, interviews with 322 students, and of course the winning films.
- Facebook proved undoubtedly to be an effective marketing tool. Its ability to quickly spread word between ‘friends’ of students at Otago University created huge awareness of the event. The nature of Facebook made it a perfect media outlet, as we were able to post a detailed description of the event, photos, and a ‘guest list’ which is not able to be done through other media outlets.
- Face-to-Face marketing was very important! We attended 100, 200 and 300 Level Design lectures to provide a friendly reminder to students of the event.
- Two members frolicked around University prime-time hours (lunch time) handing out flyers with details of the event to students. This Guerilla Marketing grabbed a lot of attention and resulted in word of mouth advertising.
Overall we tried both directly and broadly to expose True Lies to a wider audience. Spreading the message beyond the campus grounds through radio advertising was a new attempt that we believe was a success. Plus at no cost, we can’t complain.
Finding financial support proved a lot more difficult than we first anticipated. Given that we didn’t have the $1000 grant given from a ‘kind hearted’ donee, we were relying a lot more on local commercial sponsorship.
Our first stop was to re-visit the 2008 sponsors. This was short-lived, as certain businesses were not able to help us out again.
Second stop was to bulk email local Dunedin companies. Arthur Barnett was the only company which responded with the news we wanted to hear: a kind offer of $250 in return for the handing out of bounce-back cards on the night.
Third stop was at ‘The Edge’ radio station. They very generously gave us free air time: 30 seconds around every weather item which plays around 8 times a day, for a week.
Of course the Design Department gave us our $150 course budget allowance which we worked hard for, and a nice surprise in the form of a $380 lump sum as extra from the 2008 Budget.
In terms of prizes, we had several sponsors: Ltd Cards (15 cards at the value of $10 each), Export Gold (merchandise to the value of $300), Slick Willies and Boardbase (various clothing and accessory merchandise), and Marguerita Florists (4 beautiful bunches of flowers for the Judges).
Below shows the Budget for the night. We have broken all our expenditure costs up into broad categories to make it all a bit easier to read and define where all the money went! As you can see we made a grand total of $280.30. Superb!
Our appreciation of the 2008’s budget meant we wanted to try and do the same thing for next years event team. However, as the future of TrueLies remains unknown, we have instead decided to do the right thing and donate the money to the Samoan Tsunami Fund through the Oxfam New Zealand’s Rapid Response Emergency Fund.
We are pleased to announce that the True Lies Festival 09 has been a huge success with an exceptional turn out of over 250 people.
“I wanted to give you my congratulations on a very well organised event. It was an enjoyable evening.” – Sharon Guytonbeck (Totally Wired)
Why so good?
- Our Marketing and Advertising was strategic and successful because we utilized popular media vehicles. The facebook page turned out to be an integral part of promoting the event to university students, which really highlighted the expanding role of social networking in communication and marketing, especially for our target audience.
- 10Bar was perfect for the event. A breath of fresh air from Backstage and a new leaf turned for future events. It had the spacial and technological capability to host the event, as well as the ‘name’ and ‘image’ of an established bar. We highly recommend 10Bar for future years. The management staff were exceptionally helpful and generous which made our job a lot easier.
- The live band was great for continuing a general flow of the event during the interval break and after the event had officially ended. It added a more personal touch and persuaded people to relocate to the dancefloor… a sign of a great night we think.
- Decorations were simple, cheap and all in theme which contributed to the atmosphere on the night.
- Food was brought out in intervals throughout the night, and it was enough to cater for everyone without putting us over budget.
- The fact that we were able to coordinate our large group, dividing responsibilities, playing to our individual strengths and staying on track impressed even ourselves.
Why not so good?
- Technological issues… The televisions which surrounded the seating areas were not functioning due to a missing component. This meant there was only one area for viewing, and the already large numbers were crowded.
- The sound for the first half of the night was fine, but as people became louder (as the night got better) we were unable to compete, and the sound became distorted by our attempts to make it louder.
So what could we have done to make the night better?
- Employ an AV technician. Having someone who’s sole job was to oversee the sound and video for the night would be hugely beneficial.
- A full scale rehearsal of the entire event on the day would prevent potential problems from becoming an issue on the night, and help better prepare and coordinate team members.
- More interior design pieces would have helped transform the venue more completely. We experimented with character posters and “True Lies” slides projected on a back wall, but we could have taken it much further.