Next week we will be launching the sale of passes to LMFF 2024, including the COMMUNITY PASS which enables and empowers you to host your own film event and raise money for your adventure group, project or charity. Together, our network of Community Events amounts to something bigger. In this blog, Festival Director Greg Hackett explains the mission and how we got here.
So, the original plan for LMFF was to have a London version of a mountain film festival, other excellent versions of which already exist elsewhere in this country and around the world. That didn't work out, because in our first year we were taken down by Covid.
What we learned from that catastrophe was that there was fun to be had by engaging with people online - people who might not be able to, or want to, attend a physical event. Our unplanned and free-to-view LMFF Virtual event drew a massive crowd of 15,000 viewers. We made no money, but boy it was fun.
Organising events is a rewarding and risky business. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. The bigger the event, the bigger the investment, and ultimately the bigger the risk and/or reward. Because of the risk-reward involved, organisers exercise as much control over their events as they possibly can. For some people running an events business is a lifestyle choice, but at the big end it's usually with the aim of ultimately selling the business, which is where the money is. That said, arts or film festivals don't usually sell for that much. The costs are too big and they don't attract the sponsorship that events such as big exhibitions with their inherent sales opportunities might attract. In other words, they tend to be less commercial and more passionate about their subject matter. Festivals are more likely to be lifestyle-driven.
Watch Greg demo the Community Event tech here:
So having been forced online by Covid, we were at a crossroads regarding how to take the event forward. For example, we loved the fact that it was better for the environment than a physical event. There was a lot of love from followers and supporters out there but we could only reach them online. This is great for some, but it doesn't help those people who want to meet up to watch films. We were conflicted.
And this is when it got interesting.
A filmmaker who had submitted a film got in touch to ask if he could organise a film night in his local community hall in a remote area of Kentucky. He wanted to show his own film but also a few others that he liked from our festival. Of course! we said, crack on! We didn't think much more about it, although one or two of our filmmakers who got wind of the news they would be streamed in the hills of Kentucky were delighted!
Later, after our online festival had ended, he sent me a couple of photographs, and in a flash the idea arrived - people could be doing this everywhere! What he had done wasn't difficult. He had a handy venue, an internet connection, a projector, speakers, a screen and a laptop. And access to an audience. Easy. What we realised is that many groups and societies also have these facilities or have a place they regularly use. Climbing walls often have film nights. Scout huts, gyms, bars .. all the usual places where outdoorsy people host their meet-ups usually have the potential to run a community event.
It was transformational and required a big change in mindset, because like most event organisers I was too worried about controlling what was going on, so the idea of handing control to our own community was only ever going to come from the community itself.
AND FINALLY the last piece of logic fell into place... these groups or small businesses could use these adventure films to generate income or simply bring their communities together on their premises. And on top of that have a good time. Feel they have achieved something. If there is one thing adventure types have in common, it's the love of achievement. There is nothing to 'achieve' in attending an event controlled by an event organiser. It may be a good experience but it's not an achievement. Our Community Events deliver on a number of levels. They are, in essence an adventure in themselves, where you are in control, not us.
I hope this blog explains the motives and circumstances that have led to our Community Events and the LMFF mission to help improve the world through the lens of adventure!
Keep an eye out for the launch email next week, and I hope you will get involved and be part of something bigger!
Greg Hackett has worked in the events industry for over 30 years in a variety of business and consumer sectors. A passionate hillwalker, in 2017 he launched Top Munro Ltd which publishes gift items for the UK hillwalking community. In 2020 he added the London Mountain Film Festival to the business.