When I started the “Certified Film Threat in Progress” weekly column, I wanted to be sure it wasn’t just about movies; I didn’t want to ignore film-related projects like production companies or film festivals (or whatever else folks might come up with that sounds interesting). To that end, this week we focus on the 2010 Flyway Film Festival, currently funding via Kickstarter. Founder and Executive Director Rick Vaicius took some time to answer my questions, and here’s what he had to say…

How did the Flyway Film Festival get started?
Flyway was the natural outgrowth of the monthly screening series we started about 4 years ago at the Lake Pepin Art & Design Center in Pepin, WI. Early on we hosted a number of filmmakers, showcasing their work, and generally providing them with an opportunity to screen their work in what we think is a very unique arts community. They all encouraged us to start Flyway.

Where does the Flyway Film Festival take place?
Flyway takes place in two venues located in Pepin and Stockholm, Wisconsin: The Lake Pepin Art & Design Center, and the Widespot Performing Arts Center. Pepin and Stockholm are two small communities located on the banks of a “wide spot” in the Mississippi River known as Lake Pepin. We are approximately 90 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, and a perfect weekend getaway location. Our beautiful area has great cafes and wonderful B&Bs and autumn is a great time to be here.

What is the significance of the name “Flyway,” as opposed to “Pepin Film Festival,” for example?
Flyway is our way of honoring the Mississippi River and the great migratory bird flyway from our part of the country down to the Gulf of Mexico… and we thought there were already too many film festivals with …dance in their name.

How many years has the film festival been around?
2010 marks our third year.

What is your involvement with the festival?
I am the founder and executive director. I also sometimes make the popcorn and being that we are in Wisconsin I also open bottles of beer for the audience.

What type of films and filmmakers have attended the festival so far?
We’ve brought over 40 filmmakers into the community for Flyway from all over the world. We’ve screened just about everything you can imagine, from serious thought provoking docs, to genre films. We had alot of fun with last year’s International Zombie Summit, screening everything from cult classic RED NECK ZOMBIES, the doc ZOMBIE GIRL, COLIN, DEAD SNOW and PONTYPOOL. I get accused of being really dark and serious when it comes to programming, and the reality is nothing could be further from the truth, all love all types of film.

We also try to pay particular attention to films from regional filmmakers and also to make Flyway a unique collegial and interactive event for the filmmakers as well as our audience.

Why did you decide to crowdfund your festival?
We noticed that our fundraising efforts in the community we depend on for support was happening with all of our previous supporters, just not at previous year’s levels. The economy is still suffering here and our community’s economy is really tourism based. Things haven’t come close to approaching previous levels. We don’t have any big corporate sponsors, and it seems that depending too heavily on that big corporate sugar-daddy is not a good position to be in anyway. Crowd funding seemed like a reasonable alternative for us this year. It’s voluntary and we value every dollar of support and every in-kind commitment from sponsors. Because we are still small as an organization we can be flexible and creative. We can accomplish alot with very little. The community appreciates that, and our sponsors really like that we aren’t squandering their support.

Do you have other financial resources or investors in place beyond the crowdfunding?
Sure, but the support of the backers in our Kickstarter Campaign is vital to the growth of the festival. It is particularly important because we have a generous community member willing to match our Kickstarter, but only if we make it to our goal.

I like this challenge, I think it demonstrates that we are serious about Flyway and we have support from the greater community- That being Flyway’s neighbors, sponsors and the filmmaking community as a whole.

Why did you choose Kickstarter as your crowdfunding solution?
Mostly because of the challenge to reach the goal or we get nothing.

Where is the crowdfunded money being allocated? What does it pay for?
At this point it will help us get filmmakers to Flyway and provide them with the outstanding experience we’ve set as a standard for the festival. It will also help to cover some of the basic operating expenses of the festival, like venues and some technical gear. Festival staff is all volunteer- everyone from myself on down to the person taking tickets.

What has the reception been like trying to crowdfund a film festival?
I think the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve seen outstanding support from our immediate community, from filmmakers that have participated in Flyway in the past and from filmmakers that have heard about Flyway from others and want to support what we believe is an outstanding event. A little arm twisting doesn’t hurt either, though I’m leaving that to others.

Has the normal festival attendee, or the local community, been receptive to fundraising efforts?
Yes! We’ve tried to be respectful and a little light-hearted. I think folks appreciate that. Look, we try to have fun with whatever we do. If that wasn’t possible what would the point be.

One of the coolest components of crowdfunding campaigns is the list of different incentives that the investors/donators get depending on their investment/donation. What are some of your incentives?
We have everything from tickets to passes and t-shirts, as well as chartered sailing excursions on our beautiful lake and a private screening of a Flyway Film. Again, in many ways it’s about the fun. How cool would it be to have a private screening with private Q&A you can invite 10 of your friends to? We’ve also challenged our twitter followers to jump in with some extra swag as incentives.

If you do not hit your financial crowdfunding goal, what then? How is the festival affected?
Simply, we won’t be able to do as much. Flyway will go on, just a very lean version.

There are so many fests around today, why does the Flyway Film Festival have to exist and why should the crowd get their money behind it?
I think we are building something unique. Flyway should exist because we’ve built ourselves into a high quality, interactive event. We have small venues with high quality projection with outstanding sound. All meant to make the experience for both filmmakers and film lovers the best it can possibly be… and everyone comes to a welcoming community.

If you’d like to know more about the 2010 Flyway Film Festival or we didn’t ask all the questions you’ve got, go ahead and comment below or head over to the 2010 Flyway Film Festival’s Kickstarter page or the festival’s official website and comment there. Next week we’ll be back with a new project for you to check out but, until then, we hope you enjoyed this closer look at the 2010 Flyway Film Festival.

DISCLAIMER: Donating or investing in a film or film-related project is always a risky endeavor, so it is important to keep that in mind before deciding to get financially involved with any film project. Film Threat, and our parent company, Hamster Stampede, LLC hold no liability or responsibility regarding any of the projects showcased on our site, their content or performance or the content or performance of any of the sites linked to in this article. Our involvement with the featured project is strictly what you see here: we find a work-in-progress project that sounds interesting to us, we ask all the questions we’d like to know the answers to and then we share that information with you, the audience. This should not be considered as personalized investment advice. What happens after you read this is your decision, and, again, before parting with any money for any film, think it through and BE CAREFUL.

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