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Twin Cities Film Fest Debuts Initiative to Connect Businesses with Local Filmmakers

The St. Louis Park-based nonprofit has launched a Production Services initiative to connect members in its artist network to businesses in need of low-cost, high-quality video productions.

Twin Cities Film Fest Debuts Initiative to Connect Businesses with Local Filmmakers
Twin Cities Film Fest executive director Jatin Setia and Discover St. Louis Park's Trish Foster collaborate. (Photo courtesy of TCFF)

As part of its ten year anniversary celebration, nonprofit arts organization Twin Cities Film Fest (TCFF) is premiering a new initiative it believes will aid businesses and the local creative community alike.

Called Twin Cities Film Fest Production Services, the new program is designed to match local filmmakers with organizations seeking high quality video productions on limited budgets.

Through year-round programming that includes its namesake fall film festival, TCFF has compiled a network of filmmakers eager to expand their work options. The idea behind TCFF Production Services, explains TCFF executive director Jatin Setia, is to give businesses access to that network. “Our job is to connect the dots,” says Setia.

Based in St. Louis Park, TCFF has actually been playing matchmaker between businesses and filmmakers for years. With an increasing number of companies turning to TCFF for recommendations of actors and filmmakers for video projects, Setia says the time was right to formalize the process.

Under the official TCFF Production Services program, TCFF plays an agency role—from assembling a client’s project needs and budget, to recruiting a filmmaker and lightly overseeing production. The client pays TCFF, TCFF takes a small percentage of the fee, then gives the rest to the filmmaker.

On top of adding a new revenue stream to TCFF, Setia sees TCFF Production Services as equally beneficial to the filmmakers and potential clients.

“We’re hoping everybody’s winning in this situation,” says Setia. “[We want] to make sure we’re empowering our artists and also helping, at the same time, our community members who need these services done anyway, but can’t afford to go to a big agency.”

TCFF Production Services, which technically launched in January, has so far secured three clients: tourism nonprofit Discover St. Louis Park, emergency food and shelter program STEP St. Louis Park, and Dress for Success Minneapolis.

“In the past, we’ve worked with a traditional agency…we’ve gotten good quality videos, but we pay a lot of money,” says Trish Foster, marketing director of Discover St. Louis Park.

Under that dynamic, Discover St. Louis Park doesn’t own the raw footage, says Foster, and therefore can’t ask for other videos from leftover footage without “being nickeled and dimed to death.”

For example, Foster says she once paid $15,000 to an agency to create two 30-second videos. Now she’s paying TCFF Production Services two-thirds that price and getting more videos, plus all the raw footage that could be repurposed in the future.

“We’re saving a huge amount of money while getting I would say almost even superior quality because these guys are all artists—they want to create fantastic art,” says Foster. “Agencies do awesome work, too, but we own all the footage… and we’re able to do more videos within the same or even less budget.”

Setia would like to see TCFF Production Services complete between 20 to 30 projects by the end of 2019.

“[This is an] opportunity to celebrate something new as we move into the future,” says Setia. “And at the end of the day, [TCFF] Production Services is just one more way we can support our community.”

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