Asked to summarize attendance and ticket sales for Idyllwild CinemaFest 2013, festival Chairman Phil Calderone cited stronger local sales but chilled off-Hill attendance and sales, largely due to weather. He noted the result was comparable attendance and sales figures from last year to this year.
For each year but this, the festival has had less severe weather. This year, very cold temperatures, fog and some snow seemed to have discouraged off-Hill attendance and prevented some featured film directors from attending. Calderone estimated a 40 percent decrease in nonlocal festival pass purchases, including both day and full access passes, which he attributed to weather.
The outlook for continued strong local attendance was far sunnier. Calderone said local festival pass purchases, almost all of them full-access passes, increased 55 percent from last year, also evidenced by a 50 percent decrease in local single ticket purchases.
Calderone said overall festival attendance increased this year by approximately 500 to 600. Online ticket sales through the Town Crier website nearly doubled from last year. But, he noted, the increase in numbers and sales was largely due to sell-outs for Stephen Savage’s new film “Vertical” and for two busloads of high school rugby players and their supporters from Los Angeles that came up for the premiere of their documentary, “Red, White, Black and Blue.” He pointed out those are both out-of-the-ordinary events that would not occur each year.
Calderone said if you factor out the two capacity-event shows’ attendance, dollars in 2013 were similar to 2012. “I frankly view that as a good result given that the weather hit us this year and I didn’t have the time to market as I had intended,” he said. “Next year, both the beneficial factor of better weather and more extensive marketing should be in play.”
Calderone noted that per screen attendance was also up, except for beginning and end-of-day screening slots. “I’m thinking about shortening the [festival] day and adding one more to compensate,” he said. That would lengthen the festival from five to six days. “I’d like to stay at 100 films for now. It’s a comfortable number in serving filmmakers and spreading out activity for the local businesses.”
Calderone said a planned conversion to non-profit status would allow many more companies and organizations to support the festival. “I don’t see being nonprofit affecting our film content. We have a nice indie film niche with growing connections and I expect that to continue.” Calderone said he is hoping to fund an annual Native American project, narrative or documentary. “We’ll be approaching the local casinos about that.”
International directors attended ICF 2013 from Iran and England, and U.S. directors came from as far as New York, Indiana, Wyoming and Texas.
Comments from locals who attended centered on the overall strong quality of films screened at the festival.