Human Rights Arts Film Festival 2015, Melbourne, Australia

Details from HRAFF with Ella McNeill

Waiting for guests after the closing night of Human Rights Arts Film Festival 2015 (HRAFF). Ella, CEO from the event explained to us a little about her career. She started working in Revelation Perth International Film Festival, later she works in Melbourne International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center, in New York and Sidney Film Festival. She has been doing this for the last three years. “Every festival is going  to be different in more opportunities they have. When I started with the festival, it had been running five, I took charge of 6th, 7th and 8th Festivals of HRAFF, you know it is early days of an organization so there is a lot of to learn and there are a lot of opportunities so you are still building an audience. We have seen a huge growth in our audiences for the last three years.  We observed an increase of the 30% in the first year, 15% in the next year and 30% in the last year. We are reaching for people, some of the fundamental things it is getting the work out there, making the people know the festival is on. Target the marketing to  people would be in but also try to get partnerships like we did with The Guardian this year, major online publication. For us, we are going in a long way in terms of internally for processes. A development from the board, making people notice and also increase people who is working on Human Rights or filmmaking would be on.

I do not know if I could name one as the biggest challenge but I think like any non-profit event there are plenty situations that could be considered as challenges. I think one of the most overrated issues in the non-profit sector would be your budget, just make me sure of fund-raising enough and determine your target to secure your budget, it is the number one. And I think next to that, it would probably be your program, so prepare your program as high quality and absolutely excellent in terms of film-arts and format, as we do.

As we are in Human Rights, we are very conscious about to who we partner with or where we found the money. We are very conscious about partnering ethical people and business and companies with the best practices because we are not going to compromise our ethics for making the festival.

I have heard that conquer Australian audience is one of the most difficult challenge. What is the truth behind that expression?

I have always worked in Film Festivals, I have never thought about Australians being hard to crack or having too high expectations or being really difficult. We are very privileged place so you can experiencing Arts as long as you can buy the lowest price point. The ticket price is $20. It is something accessible but for us the main issue is people sometimes assume that Film about Human Rights is going to be low quality, grassroots, with difficult or challenging content so the biggest change for us was communication in the last five years about the high quality, Award winning content so our engage it is to communicate that audience would be able to enjoy the experience.

What is your opinion about distribution issues in Australian market?

There are incredible films, it is too commercial so for us future plan is to get these films to wide audience represented them as distributors. Distribution is the hardest part through communities, town halls, local groups, cinemas, to show these films everywhere without problems.


I have always worked in Film Festivals, we are very privileged place so you can experiencing Arts as long as you can buy the lowest price point. The ticket price is $20. It is something accessible.but for us the main issue is people sometimes assume that Film about Human Rights is going to be low quality, grassroots, with difficult or challenging content so the biggest change for us was communication in the last five years about the high quality, Award winning content so our engage it is to communicate that audience would be able to enjoy the experience.


 As CEO, What do you think about women in management roles in Arts’ industries?

I mean Arts is quite a female industry but being in high levels of management… it should be completely normal but you know I think as a woman the boards of the world are more dominated by male. You may find the most inspiring women in the Arts because women never used to question the role of the women management but I think in the larger context of different sectors, I think having women in the board should be normal as having men but the evidence says it is not in that way.  For me it is knowing what you to do and it comes naturally to me because I love this.

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