December is now upon us and the 2018 Ottawa Adventure Film Festival has come and gone.  The weeks leading up to and during the film festival proved to be quite hectic but with great results.  With the festival behind us, it is a perfect opportunity to look back and reflect on the successes that were had.  

Putting on a film festival of this scale would be impossible without a well functioning team.  Every member on the team plays an important role in the festival’s success.  Mike McKay, the owner of FIVE2NINE, is also the creator and owner of The Ottawa Adventure Film Festival. Without him and his experience, the mere idea of the festival would not have come to be.  Mike oversees the whole event not just in the fall but throughout the whole year, as the behind the scenes work is where any festival is made to either succeed or fail.  

For this 2018 edition of the festival, we had 5 screenings and 3 different programs.  Program A played on Saturday and Monday, program B played on Sunday and Wednesday, and then finally a screening of the film 3100: Run and Become at UOttawa on the Thursday.  The Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday screenings all sold out with the Monday screening at about 80% capacity.  This was all the confirmation we needed to show that we could up the anti next year and that the 2017 festival’s success was not just a fluke.  There is absolutely a market in Ottawa for this type of festival and the community for adventure sports and great films here made this very clear.  

The website and Facebook promotion were taken care of by Jordan Kent who does a great job a played a huge part in the selling out of three screenings.  Once again, Dylan Page, also known as Dylan the Magician, created the opening video to be played at the beginning of each screening and did a fantastic job.  A new addition to the team this year was Michelle De Alva.  Michelle joined the FIVE2NINE crew this fall and is great with video graphics.  Michelle worked on the teasers leading up to the festival.  

I was in charge of running the Ottawa Adventure Film Festival Instagram account, this included things like stories during the event, ticket giveaways, and posts after each screening.  The response from Instagram followers for ticket giveaways was awesome and I hope to see even more of that next year.   I could even be seen running around with a camera here and there trying to take some pictures that would capture the awesome atmosphere of the festival.     

The audience feedback from the screenings was overwhelmingly positive and it seems that there was a film that spoke to each audience member.  It’s impossible to speak about the success of the screenings without mentioning Mark Day and Matt Godsoe’s fantastic hosting.  Mark opened the festival with the Saturday screening and Matt kept it going on Sunday and Monday.  This was such a big part of the audience’s engagement and enjoyment of the festival.  Another addition this year that was really great was having live music playing while the audience was rolling in.  Jessica Pearson & the East Wind delivered stunning performances that only added to the already great ambiance of the Mayfair Theatre.  The music started every screening off on the right foot.  

The Wednesday screening was a bit of special one.  Not only were the winning films announced for the various film awards, but there were also two special awards handed out that night.  For one, the first ever Level Six Youth Community Award was given to Owen Ketcheson.  Secondly, Jim Coffey was awarded the OAFF Lifetime Achievement Award for the amazing things that he has done for so many communities both on and off the river.

Owen Ketch receiving the Youth Outdoor Award from Level Six
Jim Coffey receiving a lifetime achievement award

In any festival, the venue is such a crucial piece of the puzzle in determining that festivals success.  This is especially true with film festivals as the viewing experience is such an important part to enjoying any film.  Certainly today, in the age of Netflix and multi tasking, it’s not often that people actually sit down and really enjoy a great outdoor adventure film without scrolling past it on your Facebook timeline.  The Mayfair Theatre has really been that great venue for the Ottawa Adventure Film Festival.  Not only is it in a great location, but it has just the right feel to provide the perfect film festival experience and really do justice to the hard work put in by the filmmakers.  The staff at the Mayfair Theatre are also extremely welcoming and awesome to work with.  Just another piece of the puzzle that came together to determine this year’s success with the festival.

A film festival is very similar to the making of a film itself.  It is a puzzle and the key to its success is being able to make all the puzzle piece’s fit together.  However, unlike a puzzle, the pieces are constantly changing shapes and one’s ability to react to the changes and make on the fly decisions is critical to a successful film festival.  This year, Mike McKay and his crew were able to do just this.  The result was an awesome edition of the Ottawa Adventure Film Festival and we are excited to start this great challenge over and come back strong again next year.