ASMP interviewed South Carolina Chapter President Brian Dressler about their flagship program, the Southeastern Film and Photo Conference.
Can you give us a basic description of the program?
The ASMP/SC Southeastern Film & Photo Conference has been held in the fall for the last two years. A two-day conference held at Furman University featuring Canon Explorers of Light, Gregory Heisler (2016), and Jack Reznicki (2017), film producers, writers, Photoshop experts, independent filmmakers, portrait photographers and other specialists in both film and still mediums. Three different presentation rooms ran concurrently, so attendees could pick whom to see during the two days. Event sponsors had their products on display in the main reception hall for hands-on and face-to-face sales opportunities.
How did you come up with the idea for your program?
Our SC board decided that we needed to produce one main event each year to pull together our neighboring chapters in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Greenville, SC, is centrally located for all four chapters.
How did you approach sponsorship? Tips for other leaders regarding this?
I produced a prospectus for potential sponsors explaining the event, the venue, and the various levels of sponsorship. This included speaker names and bios, a layout of the event space and where they would display, as well as a timeline with payment incentives. We reached out to anybody and everybody we thought might have interest. Our primary sponsor was a state government agency, the South Carolina Film Commission. Partnering with them was a huge boost for making the event financially possible.
What marketing tools & timeline did you employ?
All social media and direct emails. No print ads, as we didn’t have a budget. We hired graphic artists to produce the ads, and used local social-media experts to advise us on placement. Frequency increased dramatically as the event date approached. I think we started about two months out.
How did you involve the board and the community in helping with this undertaking?
Board members had individual responsibilities and deadlines to meet. We partnered with a local technical college to use volunteer students for desk check-in positions in exchange for free admission.
How did you find speakers?
All board members reached out to friends and acquaintances in the field, near and far, to present. Some required travel expenses, and some required additional speaking fees.
What tips do you have for time management and delegation of responsibilities for large program undertakings such as this?
Delegate tasks and split up responsibilities to a minimum of 10 chapter members. Someone should take the lead role, to make sure tasks are accomplished in a timely manner. This proved to be a lot of work. We are blessed with committed board members who all excel in different ways. Make sure it doesn’t all fall on the shoulders of one person, i.e., chapter president.
Do you take feedback after the program is over? If so, how do you encourage people to share their opinions and how do you use these for future projects?
We had survey cards to fill out. Using their names on the cards, we had donated gifts to give away at the end of the event. This proved to be a big hit. Everybody loves free stuff.
Reviewing the survey card comments have led us to make improvements each year.
Can you give us some tips on effective chapter programming? Anything you think would help leaders put on a variety of successful events, large or small.
It’s critically important to have those producing the event support the mission of the program 100 percent. They all must believe in the event and that it will help fellow photographers. After all, ASMP is photographers helping photographers.