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Building a Film Festival Website

We’re proud supporters of the Dance on Camera Festival happening February 1st. We’ll be at the Festival the whole way through – come visit us and say hello!


Last year, we helped Dance Films Association (DFA) revamp their whole site. DFA has been putting together their annual Dance on Camera film festival for over 40 years (since 1971) and is “the mother” of all Dance Film Fests. During the initial build, we worked on the information architecture first, which resulted in cleaning up the navigation. We also added a calendar, and redid the whole design. When we noticed they were getting a healthy amount of traffic, we moved them to our managed hosting system.

This year, we wanted to improve upon the work we did. So we helped Dance Films Association (DFA) launch several new features. One of the primary goals of their site is to help promote their Film Festivals, past and present. DFA also provides many services to their members, so we worked to setup a new online membership system.

Below is a little documentation on what we did, and how did it.

DFA1. Dedicated Page for All Festivals

As mentioned, we wanted to highlight past festivals and work to list all films ever screened at DFA’s Festival. While DFA will still continue to post films from their archives, we are able to launch with all of 2012 and 2013 posted on the site.


2. A new webform for Films Submissions
DFA also wanted to simplify listing all the films on the site. Since filmmakers already had all their content in place for their own films, we created a form so the filmmakers could submit all the content for their films :

  • Film Stills (Images)
  • Videos (trailers)
  • Film excerpts
  • Press
  • Screening Times / Location
  • Cast & Crew
  • Any other content DFA needed to publish on their printed program

We made sure to test this form extensively before launching. Once the form was good to go, and artists submitted this content via the new form, the content would go into a queue to be moderated by DFA staff via the WordPress admin system. And once it was approved by site administrators, the text, media, and content would auto-magically appear on the site.

Results : No need for redundant data entry. And countless admin hours and paper printing saved.

3. Updated Events Page
At the end of the day, Film Festival websites need to do 2 things : list screening times, and sell tickets. So we made sure those pages included all the screening times details.

4. Fiscal Sponsors
DFA also runs a fiscal sponsorship program. So, we also created a new page and custom post type for all of DFA’s Fiscally Sponsored Projects  (sample page : http://www.dancefilms.org/fiscally-sponsored-items/channelling-martha/)

The Technical Bits

Below is a little bit of the how. We’re hoping this documentation is helpful to other folks looking to do the same thing. Or perhaps it’ll inspire others to imagine what can be done with WordPress.

To start with, we’re using WooTheme’s Kaboodle Theme as our base theme. That particular theme was initially built for portfolio pieces. We knew we could reconfigure the theme and reuse many functions. In DFA’s case, portfolio pieces were replaced with Films.

What we didn’t have in place yet was a way to list these films (or portfolio pieces according to WooThemes) by year. Because DFA has been around for 40 years, we didn’t want all the films to appear on one page. We were looking for a way to split up films per year. For example, films that screened in 2012 would be one page, while other films screened in 2013 would have a separate page.

So we went one level up and set out to create a Festivals archive page. This page lists ALL the festivals in 1 place. Our technical solution was to create a Festivals Custom Post Type.


We also added a “screening year” to the Films custom post type. This way, the 2013 Festival page could query the Films Post Type and only show the 2013 films (films are often produced one year, and screened the next).

Screen shot 2013-01-29 at 3.31.52 PM

Primary extensions and plugins used :

Base Theme :

View Slideshow Here

View Trailer Here :

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