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Film Independent has been honoring indie film greats with its annual Spirit awards ceremony for 23 years, and certainly, no cable channel has a more obvious tie to the nonprofit's independent spirit than the Independent Film Channel. IFC began broadcasting the afternoon event 12 years ago, and for a decade it's kept the party going by throwing an after-bash: the IFC “Party Celebrating the Spirit of Independent Film.”
The IFC after-party offers young film-industry folk an opportunity to indulge in their favorite form of recreation: networking. The award ceremony takes place over lunch in a Santa Monica tent within spitting distance of the Pacific Ocean, and for most of that time, guests are seated at tables. When the tent folds up (figuratively, that is) around 4 p.m., about 1,000 guests—nominees, winners, and friends and advertisers of IFC—convene at the nearby Shutters Hotel on the Beach, where the channel hosts its lively branding op.
At Saturday's bash, which stretched across the hotel's entire downstairs function area (which consists of two ballrooms and a lobby), the IFC logo was ubiquitous in the party's design—on wall displays, on the sticky notes that were elements of the displays, even on little flags attached to toothpicks in the mini burgers and silk-screened on the chocolates.
Branding wasn't the only concern of the party designers. Lauren Burack, IFC's vice president of promotions and events, and Niki Eways, who produced the event for David Stark Design, collaborated on an interactive decor this year after guests made off with inflatable sea creatures from last year's design. “That planted the seed that it's a crowd that's open to interacting with the decor,” said Eways, who returned for her third year as project manager. “At a lot of other parties, guests aren't willing to go the extra step.”
Organizers spent two days creating collages for wall displays and fronts for the bars and DJ booth. They layered poster images for IFC series and documentaries with press clippings and blank sticky notes branded with the channel's logo. More blank sticky notes were placed on cocktail tables, along with cocktail glasses full of black Sharpies. By the time the party ended, around 8 p.m., guests had doodled and scribbled their way across the installation. Some did their own branding, writing their blog addresses, and others commented on the day's proceedings with snippets like, “I love Rainn Wilson.” (Wilson served as host of the proceedings.)
“The IFC brand is fun, edgy, and intelligent,” Burack said. “While our party celebrates the Spirit awards and independent film, this year we also wanted to highlight our original programming and original documentaries, and this was reflected in the decor. We used the artwork from our programming to serve as the backdrop of the party and added in the interactive element so that our guests were able to express themselves and be active participants.”