Film Festivals

SoFi: A Case Study

SoFi (pronounced So-phie), the University of Southampton Student Short Film Festival, was founded in 2006 by a group of film students and film society members who wanted to showcase their work to other members of the university and the public.

In its first year, it showed 12 films and took place over the course of a Saturday afternoon in May 2007. All of the films where under 10 minutes and made by students. The festival took place in a big lecture theatre on the Humanities Campus. The event also included a cake sale and an award ceremony at the end of the screening. The winner of the award was decided upon by the audience that had attended and was given out in form of an engraved glass plate.

The first SoFi had an audience of almost 80 people and was considered a great success as everybody had a good time and student film makers were excited to see their work on the big screen. Overall, we had a budget of ca £150 which came partly from the film department and partly from the University Students' Union. The money was spent on flyers, posters, the award and to repay people who had made cakes. The main problem turned out to be that a lot of the people on the initial committee stopped feeling committed to the project and became unreliable. Advertising was also fairly ineffective.

In its second year, a new committee, with two members from the original team, decided to open SoFi's submissions to universities all over the country, to host the festival in the Student Unions' cinema and to invite guest speakers from the film industry. This resulted in SoFi being held over the course of a whole weekend. This time, 15 films from 8 different education institutions were screened and just under 150 people attended over the course of two days. Workshops and talks took place on Saturday which were followed by a meal, and screenings and the award show on Saturday.

SoFi 2009 gave out two awards in the form of directors chairs with the SoFi logo on them: The Audience Choice Award and a Grand Jury Award which was decided upon by the five guest speakers. The film makers were able to watch all of the films online and gave short interviews on which they felt was the best one. A short film with their comments was screened at the Award Show. Although the budget was a little bit bigger that year (£250) most of the money was spend on the same things as well as the national promotion of the festival.

With a trained and committed team, SoFi is now approaching its third festival on the 1st and 2nd May 2010. It has developed from a small internal screening to one of the biggest student film festivals in the country in just two years and is determined to support student film exhibition in the South of the UK and nationwide.