Now that it’s over, I can finally take a deep breath. It was by far one of the most challenging things and biggest things I’ve ever been involved with. I’ve never put on a whole FESTIVAL before. Even with there being four of us to organize it, it was still a monumental amount of work spread out over an entire year. Graham Elwood, Dave Anthony, and Andy Wood were the other founders.
I’ve gone and been a part of many festivals, both film and comedy. But putting one together with a new technology, that’s well… I’m not sure if it was brave or stupid. Maybe both.
We knew we wanted it special and different. It was comedy based, but it wasn’t a comedy festival. It was podcasting. It was a marriage of entertainment and technology, so we followed a film festival model with different rooms going all day, panels, and a large standup show on Saturday night. The problem with doing it that way is that it’s more expensive to rent out a nice hotel.
We first did a kickstarter to campaign to assess interest and it went off like gangbusters. So we felt good about everything and started spending money. And then… an overall sponsor never materialized, other sponsors never stepped up, but three did: Mailchimp, Sideshow Network, and Art19. So there was some sponsorship. But we really needed more.
But then the expenses started piling up, tickets weren’t selling, and some of the bigger names dropped out due to scheduling. It was looking like it was going to crash and burn. And it looked this way for months, to be honest. A year of work was going to go down the tubes. Being in the entertainment industry, I was certainly no stranger to that concept, but these last few years I had been trying to avoid it.
So we adjusted. We lowered the prices, added day passes, added more podcasts, and worked on marketing. Slowly it started to shift in the other direction. By the time the fest rolled around, we were feeling much better. People came. We had the festival. Both the podcasters and the fans had a blast.
But I am so glad the first year is over. It was a real timesuck, especially towards the end. I feel like I have more free time now, and that’s just because I’m not working on the festival every day.
Did we get rich? No. Did we break even? Maybe. We’re still paying bills. So hopefully. 🙂
Did we have an amazing time? Yes. Yes we did. And the fans already wanted to buy tickets for next year. We probably should have presold tickets. OK, another thing to go on the “notes” for next year.
We learned a ton. There are things we will do differently next time, and a lot of things we saw that worked and things that didn’t that you can only figure out by actually having it.
The greatest compliment we got was when people told us it felt like a fifth year festival, and didn’t have any of the kinks of a first year festival. Sure, we had some issues, but ultimately I think the whole thing went off pretty smoothly.
So was it worth it? I think so. I honestly think the SECOND year will determine that. If we can get more sponsors, more fans, and more podcasts, basically just MORE, then we’ll know it’s growing, and if will have been worth TWO years of our lives.
There is a great article in the AV CLUB about the festival here.
The festival site has not been updated yet. We’re all still too exhausted. But stay tuned. We’re already having meetings about next year. Lapodfest.com