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New Festival players launch FCG in Cannes

Former Film fest directors Jon Fitzgerald and Mitch Levine announce the launch of Festival Consulting Group (FCG), a company devoted to serving the film festival community. Supported by a comprehensive website, FestivalConsulting.com, the Company will offer a complete range of services – from Sponsorship to Strategic Planning to Production Services – and virtually everything in between. The announcement was made at a reception at the Plage des Palmes Café in Cannes, co-hosted by Film Finders and the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Founding partners Jon Fitzgerald and Mitch Levine are a formidable team, with years of festival leadership between them. Fitzgerald founded and directed several festivals and has a keen understanding the complexity of this unique event model. Levine is a filmmaker and festival director who brings a wealth of production experience to the venture. Both have deep relationships in the independent film and festival communities.

FCG services will include Programming, Sponsorship, Marketing, Operations, Production, Website Design, Special Events and Industry Relations. While some festivals will choose specific services from the menu, custom packages will be available for those events looking for a range of support. For example, FCG will offer Start a New Festival packages to help new fests get off the right start.

FCG will be the first company of its kind to offer such comprehensive support specifically catering to film festivals. “Having partnered with Jon and Mitch in their previous festival capacities, we are pleased to help celebrate their launch here in Cannes,” said Film Finders’ Sydney Levine and Peter Belsito, “We are confident their venture will be embraced by the festival community.”

In addition to providing a complete range of consulting and service packages, FCG will offer two unique systems for festival support: The Programming Bureau and FCG’s Studio Services.

Programming Bureau
FCG has developed a subscription-based Programming Bureau, a tracking and data service designed for film festivals. The Programming Bureau provides subscribers with access to a curated selection of films contained in a dedicated film database. The service offers comprehensive information on films currently appearing on the festival circuit, in addition to a selection of titles yet to play publicly. This web-based program is supported by specialized advance search tools and comprehensive film detail pages, complete with fest programmer notes, award histories and links to reviews and related articles. Whether a festival is seeking support for a themed sidebar, competitive section or a complete program, the Programming Bureau will provide access to the content required.

Studio Services
FCG offers a number of unique resources for distributors seeking assistance in the film festival arena. Companies will benefit from FCG’s extensive depth of festival experience and from its network of relationships within the festival world. FCG works with and counsels companies on festival placement strategies for their respective titles, and is available to service targeted festivals on their behalf. Additionally, knowing many distributors are continuously overwhelmed by requests from film festivals, FCG is available for direct operational support of service and title requests from festivals and their programmers.

Many festivals have strong programmers but lack a depth of industry relationships. Others have succeeded on artistic levels, but need to expand their sponsorship programs in order to survive. Fitzgerald and Levine – having previously worked independently as festival consultants – have developed their FCG partnership as a complete consulting and service organization to help festivals around the world develop distinct identities, operate professionally and succeed in an increasingly crowded festival world.

FCG’s clients include the Toronto International Film Festival Group’s Film Circuit, the IFP/Los Angeles Film Festival, the Sarasota Film Festival, Bahamas International Film Festival and the Global Peace Film Festival.

Levine comes to FCG after a long career as a film and stage director and former Special Representative to the United Nations. He was Executive Director and CEO of the Palm Springs International Film Festivals, which he led to the most successful outings in the organization’s history. He served on the staff of the Juilliard School in New York and studied at the American Film Institute, where he was the recipient of the first AFI/American Express James Cameron Fellowship in Directing. His last directorial effort, Shadows, was a multi-award winning exploration of love, family and the attraction of evil during the Holocaust. Levine has served on and led many film festival panels and juries, and continues to serve as Production Director of the IFP/Los Angeles Film Festival. He was the founding producer and host of Cinema’s Legacy: How Great Filmmakers Inspire Great Filmmakers for the AFI and has directed tributes to Jessica Lange, Elmer Bernstein, Donald Sutherland, Tab Hunter, Philip Kaufman, Janet Leigh, Lynn Redgrave, Edward G. Robinson and Ang Lee and presented such filmmakers as Stephen Frears, George Clooney, Bruce Beresford, Christopher Nolan, Stephen Daldry, Edward Zwick, Roland Joffe Franco Zeffirelli and many others.

Fitzgerald was most recently the Executive Director for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Prior to that, he was VP of Programming at IFILM, one of the few survivors in the online film world. There, he helped to put together their online exhibition model. From 1997-99, Fitzgerald was the Festival Director for AFI and is credited for resurrecting the LA festival. Prior to that, he was the Exec Director and Co-founder of the Slamdance Film Festival. He will continue to oversee Right Angle Studios, a marketing and distribution company he founded to support independent filmmakers. Fitzgerald is currently attached as Producer for CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, a project he set up with Tom Pollock and Ivan Reitman’s Montecito Picture Company.

Former Warner Bros acquisitions executive John Halecky and marketing/ fundraising vet Cindy Green will also join the company. Halecky, currently programming for the web cinema site IFilm, will be supporting FCG’s festival relations and will be working extensively with FCG’s Programming Bureau. As VP of Marketing, Green will develop sponsorship strategies and materials as well as create marketing & fundraising campaigns for festival clients. Green was responsible for putting together the existing sponsorship model for AFI Fest, and contributed as well to IFP/LA’s drive. Over the past seven years she has cumulatively raised hundreds of thousands dollars for her many festival and non-festival clients, including Variety, where she was Director of Event Marketing & Sponsorship.

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