Behind-the scenes of the Zurich Film Festival with Rebecca Haug

On September 26, 2019, the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) once again opened its doors and rolled out its famous green carpet to honor the 15th edition of this prestigious, annual event. Running through October 6, the Zurich Film Festival is an world-renowned event whose overarching mission is to “promote exchange between emerging directors, successful film workers, the film industry and the general public.”(1).

MCH Global is proud to be a longtime partner of the Zurich Film Festival. Rebecca Haug, Head of Project Management at MCH Global, and her team of four MCH project managers coordinate the assembly and dismantling of the main stations at the ZFF, in addition to organizing the festival’s gala events. Today we sit down with Rebecca as she takes us behind the scenes of the Zurich Film Festival, and shares some insights from the long-term collaboration between MCH Global and the ZFF.

What role does MCH Global play at the Zurich Film Festival?

“MCH Global is responsible for setting up the venue’s infrastructure in spaces like the festival center on Sechseläutenplatz, while additionally taking care of guest management and security on the green carpet,” explained Rebecca. “We also organize the opening ceremony and award night.”

“Today, many of the festival’s processes have been tried-and-tested,” continued Rebecca, “so it’s primarily details that need minor readjusting for each new edition. About a year ago, the festival brought a lot of the planning in-house. Since then, we narrowed our focus and now we concentrate on bringing value to the event as experts in large-scale coordination and organization.”

How did the collaboration between MCH Global and the ZFF come about?

“In the beginning, Rufener Events was very influential in the conception of the festival. The ZFF Co-Founders, Nadja Schildknecht (Managing Director) and Karl Spoerri (Artistic Director), shared office space with Rufener Events when the film festival was just starting out. Of course back then, the festival was much smaller: the inaugural edition in 2005 had 8000 visitors and 28 participating films. For context, in 2018, ZFF had over 100,000 visitors and 162 films.”

What’s so special about the long-term partnership with the ZFF?

“I am someone who likes to be working constantly. Trust is also very important to me and I feel like a strong sense of trust has developed between our team and the ZFF,” said Rebecca. “You go through hectic times in this line of work. It brings people together and has an extremely positive effect on how cooperation plays out between the agency and the client.”

What has been the biggest challenge for you personally so far?

“This is my third year leading the MCH team at the ZFF, but when I first joined MCH Global, there was no one still at the agency who had worked with the ZFF on previous editions. We have a ZFF Bible, which includes how the schedule breaks down, but the truth is that event planning is based on a lot that is “unwritten.” Some things aren’t always on paper, like how you work together with the client, who is responsible for what, etcetera,” Rebecca explained. “The first year, I was really preoccupied with mastering the main organizational tasks, and then the second year I was able to take on other, newly-addressed aspects. The ZFF team really went out of their way to bring me up to speed and ensure I could hit the ground running.”

What do you see as the biggest challenge for project management at the ZFF?

“The biggest challenge is definitely that so many different people are involved,” said Rebecca. “You have the ZFF on one hand, and partners like us, engineering companies, tent makers, etcetera, on the other. And that’s not even counting the many, many people who volunteer for the festival or the festival sponsors. The ZFF is 90% self-financed and much of that revenue comes largely from sponsorship.”

“All these stakeholders have to be integrated into the planning and scheduling,” continued Rebecca. “Even though we are only part of the puzzle for this event and not, as is often the case for MCH Global, in charge of every aspect, we still have to make sure that all the parts come together to form the bigger picture. Ensuring that happens smoothly is one of the biggest challenges.”

What impressed you most in the last two years?

“I think for me, it was really impressive to experience the fans’ reaction when Johnny Depp came on the green carpet. I was right there with them, so close by; it was a special moment. It really felt wonderful to be in the midst of it and be part of the ZFF team, who are really doing something incredible.”

Which moment are you most looking forward to this year?

“There are so many! But I think one of my favorite moments every year is when we sit together as a team at the end of the final awards night, take a moment to breathe, and enjoy a toast. That usually happens on the tenth day at around two o’clock in the morning. For me, the moments I enjoy the most are less about the big events and celebrities, and more about celebrating success in the team.”

Can you tell us something special about this year?

“Unfortunately, I can only share what’s official, but it will certainly be very exciting again,” said Rebecca smiling. “I’m especially looking forward to seeing Cate Blanchett and Kristen Stewart.”

We hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek at the Zurich Film Festival with Rebecca Haug. If you want to learn more about the ZFF, take a look at this year’s program or check out our video highlights from last year’s edition, and don’t forget to stay tuned for future insights from MCH Global.

The Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2019. Since 2005, the festival has offered new filmmakers a platform to showcase and promote their debut works. The ZFF Jury awards a Golden Eye prize in three competition categories (International Feature Film, International Documentary Film, and the Focus category for Swiss, Austrian or German films). Beyond the competition, the festival also organizes industry activities and fringe events. The Zurich Summit unites filmmakers, tech companies, and investors for discussions on innovations in the media and entertainment industries. The ZFF Masters present a unique opportunity for spectators to interact with film industry professionals through chaired Q&A sessions with renowned actors, directors, and producers. Find out the full ZFF programme and the schedule for fringe events by visiting the festival’s website.

References

1. Zurich Film Festival (Link)

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