The ninth Idyllwild International Festival Cinema is in the early stages of planning, and although it is only three months since patrons left the awards ceremony happy and excited, some changes have already been decided for the 2018 event.

For the first time, the fest will be in March instead of early January. The official dates are March 6 to 11.

Director and Founder Stephen Savage said several reasons drove this change. “After eight years, taking place at the same time as the Palm Springs Film Festival, we are moving officially to March 2018,” he stated.

The weather and proximity to the Christmas and New Years holidays also were important reasons for the festival shift.

“The last three years, the weather has been ‘iffy,’” Savage stressed. “March is a much calmer month.”

The March timing also will give local businesses and innkeepers a brief respite after the holiday surges, he added.

Besides the traditional venues — the Rustic Theatre and Silver Pines Lodge — Savage expects to expand to Town Hall and the new IIFC facility. He plans to open an editing and audio studio at North Circle Drive and Oakwood. This also will serve as the festival headquarters.

The period for submitting films for the 2018 festival will begin July 1 and run through Dec. 1. Savage expects that the festival will still feature at least 120 films — shorts, features and documentaries.

“We’re going into year nine. I once thought two years would be fortunate,” Savage said smiling.