Telluride Film Festival

On Labor Day weekend in the tiny mountain village of Telluride, Colorado, the town triples in size. Throngs of passionate film enthusiasts flood the town to embark on a viewing adventure, eagerly spending entire days in flickering dark rooms as part of the prestigious Telluride Film Festival (TFF). Why do they come? Some say blind faith, because the schedule is kept secret until opening day. Once it is revealed, it is coordinated with military precision that makes the event picture perfect for everyone involved — with help from FileMaker Pro database software.

Picture Perfect

For the Telluride Film Festival, film debuts and other highlights have to be coordinated efficiently. This top indie film venue manages its event using FileMaker Pro software.


  • Annual gathering of cinema enthusiasts, filmmakers, critics and industry insiders
  • Film festival with 6,000 attendees for approximately 160 screenings
  • More than 100 filmmakers attended in 2010
  • In 2010, premiered top films such as "The King's Speech", "127 Hours", "Black Swan", "Never Let Me Go", "Incendies", "Of Gods and Men" and "Biutiful"
  • Headquarters in Berkeley, California


  • Entertainment


  • FileMaker Pro 11


  • Manages temporary staff of 600 with ease
  • Streamlines experience for attendees
  • Low cost to develop and manage multiple FileMaker Pro databases
  • Coordinates multiple activities, from submissions to crowd management — all with one database solution
  • Supports dispersed Mac and PC users over the Internet

FileMaker Pro is very versatile. Its biggest advantage, however, is how easy it is to use. This is especially important to the festival given that turnover of annual seasonal staff is high. Without any previous training, new users can be productive from day one — there are no delays due to learning curves.

The TFF is recognized as among the most open, democratic, and collegial of festivals, with an intimate atmosphere that promotes easy collaboration and lively debate among filmmakers, directors, actors, and other attendees. It is also a major launching ground for the fall season's most talked–about films.

Business Challenge

Despite its easygoing atmosphere, the festival requires strict behind–the–curtains coordination. In 2010, the TFF received well over 2,000 film submissions for consideration. The organization logs and stores every film it receives.

There are other major logistical considerations, from delivering the right equipment to the right places to providing passes to attendees and guests. All of this is compounded by the fact that the festival is managed primarily from a remote location in Berkeley, California with users on a mix of Mac and PC platforms. Adding to the challenge, the TFF has a core of 12 employees in the nine–month off–season, but it blossoms into a staff of 600 during the festival period.

The biggest challenge is that the small year–round management team is responsible for serving a large temporary staff as well as festival passholders. A variety of departments need to interface with one another on many different levels — and they all need supplies, equipment and services.

Successful Solution

The TFF began using a FileMaker Pro database for its passholder records to capture new entries and maintain historical records of attendance. Grasping the power and flexibility of FileMaker Pro, the TFF expanded the initial database to include several databases covering many needs, including submission management.

The TFF immediately saw ways to expand the FileMaker Pro application to organize many aspects of the event such as staff coordination and guest requirements. FileMaker Pro has enabled the team to more efficiently manage a very large and temporary venue staff. With FileMaker Pro, the festival streamlined and standardized business processes and enabled easier coordination.

For the TFF, a staff database helps managers with roster planning, scheduling, benefit allocation and human resource management. A separate database relates housing assignments into each staff record. Based on the criteria for each person in the staff database, the housing database configures and reports back the appropriate bed assignment.

Customer Benefits

The TFF appreciates the ability to edit layouts or databases as needs arise — without having to invest in expensive system overhauls. The team also likes the fact that FileMaker Pro makes it easy to maintain the changing status of film selections and manage processes among a dispersed staff.

The festival remotely hosts its FileMaker Pro database, so it can conduct satellite screenings among offices to streamline submissions processes. FileMaker Pro is cost–effective, and it supports the staff locally on Mac or PC systems, or remotely over the Internet.

For the TFF, FileMaker Pro provides a way to easily develop solutions to support virtually any business process. For instance, as venues are set up, FileMaker Pro enables better effort and traffic coordination. Venue staff can keep a pulse on what is going on at the event based on continuously updated information. The staff reports that crowd management is improved, enhancing the experience for attendees.

FileMaker Pro adapts easily and allows for fast fine–tuning. The FileMaker Pro databases now manage all the different aspects of the event, from attendance and planning to programming, staffing, and fundraising. FileMaker Pro databases also manage film submissions, libraries, guests, staff, passholders, sponsors and prospects — essentially, everything needed to run one of the top film festivals in the world. With FileMaker Pro, the team can make everything plainly visible to staff, while maintaining a bit of mystery for festival attendees.

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker, Inc.

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