The Fly Fishing Film Tour made one of its latest stops May 1 at the Wilmette Theater in Wilmette, Illinois. The event entertained as well as raised funds for various conservation groups.
Ryan Thompson of the Fly Fishing Film Tour spoke more about the tour’s history.
“The Fly Fishing Film Tour, or the F3T, is the biggest and oldest Fly Fishing Film Event. Traveling to over 140 cities it showcases the best films in the industry,” he said. “Since its inception in 2006 the tour has been growing in attendance and reach for the past 9 years – to over 40,000 attendees in 2013, far surpassing any other event of its kind. It also serves as one of the premier fund raising platforms for conservation groups and charities with over $250K per year going back to protect waters, preserve access and build the sport of Fly Fishing.”
Thompson said the event itself is one that consists of fun for those entrenched in fly fishing and those who are just now joining the sport.
“It’s basically a great night out with friends, family and a theater full of folks who have a shared passion for the outdoors. Many of our attendants are passionate fly fishermen and women, but there’s a growing demographic at our shows that are very new to the sport or have yet to try it at all, but are interested to see what it’s all about,” he said. “This is not just a movie, but a chance to reconnect with friends and fishing companions during the slow fishing months of the winter – it’s our cure to cabin fever.
“The event is centered around the films but we also work to create an exciting and entertaining evening with something for everyone,” Thompson continued. “Each show features a raffle drawing offering attendants the chance to win great gear from our sponsors. Over $100K worth of gear was given away over the span of the 2013 tour.”
A lot of the buzz about the tour stems from years of work. “Much of the momentum we’ve gained over the past 2-3 years can be credited to the filmmakers whose work is the backbone of our events,” said Thompson. “Each year the quality of films in the tour have improved markedly, keeping fans engaged and excited to see what’s new. Those great films combined with the hard work of our fly shop partners, sponsors and tireless road crew create credible and invaluable word of mouth promotion.”
The event’s turnout continued a trend that Thompson has seen over the course of the tour’s lifespan.
“We’ve seen more than 20% growth in attendance over each of the last three years leading to many full theaters across the country,” he said. “Our 2013 tour was a resounding success and we don’t expect to see anything less in 2014.”
Thompson said the best part of the event is seeing the excitement in the crowd.
“On the whole the best part of our tour is seeing what these evenings and these films can do to get folks excited about fly fishing and more engaged in the sport we all love,” he said.
If you’re planning on creating your own film festival event, Thompson said it’s best to know who you’re catering to.
“Get to know your audience, be original [and] don’t try to ride the coattails of someone else’s hard work,” he said.