The True/False Film Fest is a huge event to pull off, and both local and out-of-town sponsors are invested in the fest being a success. Staples in the downtown area and beyond come together and become True/False sponsors every year, supporting the fest as it grows larger. In total, the fest has 117 sponsors. Here’s a look at what it’s like to be a sponsor at every level, from Super to Simple.
Columbia’s Broadway Hotel has sponsored True/False since the hotel’s opening about three years ago.
“Over the last two years, we’ve really been able to become one of the host hotels, if not the host hotel,” revenue sales manager Shelby Vermilye said.
The Broadway Hotel, located at 1111 E. Broadway, is very involved in True/False. It is a pick-up center where you can get your passes and swag bags, it sponsors and provides a “bite” for the downtown event “Reality Bites,” and this year, it does a Q&A with film directors.
“If you’re not at the box office, you can come here and get all your questions answered,” Vermilye said.
Many directors with films in the fest stay here, and part of Vermilye’s job is making sure they have a place to stay when they get to town. There will also be a breakfast for the directors during the festival, as well as interview sessions and Q&As. The hotel also will serve as a last-minute space for Q&As or press events if the fest needs it, Vermilye said.
“It’s kind of nice to put our name out there and tie in to the community because we are so new,” Vermilye said. “We want to let people know we support the local arts and that they’re important to us. All the art in our lobby and rooms is local.”
The hotel has been planning for the 2017 True/False for months, as it hosted a SWAMI mentorship event on their roof. It was a festival brainstorming session for directors and the people who create True/False, Vermilye said.
“We’re starting to branch out more,” Vermilye said. “True/False has really grown over the years, and we’re making sure as the fest keeps growing we are the first place people turn to.”
Logboat Brewing Co., located at 504 Fay St., is a Columbia brewery is in its first year of True/False sponsorship.
“We are one of three brewery sponsors this year,” brewery co-founder Judson Ball said in an email. “T/F came to us and we were thrilled to have the opportunity to participate.”
As a Silver-level sponsor, the brewery will be involved with various True/False events around town. It will also have tasting events and do tap takeovers at some events, Ball said.
“We sponsor T/F because it is an incredible event ran by some truly amazing people,” Ball said. “What they have done for Columbia the last 13 years has been really spectacular.”
Logboat also aims to support other small businesses in town and show the community its support.
“There are a lot of great festivals and businesses in this town,” Ball said. “It’s not easy to open [your] own business, so supporting each other is important.”
Diggit Graphics, the company that produces True/False’s T-shirts, has been a sponsor since the beginning of the festival in 2003.
“I met David [Wilson, True/False co-conspirator] the year I opened the store, and he had me do one little run of T-shirts,” owner Kelly Sly said. “It was for a different film thing, not True/False.”
Diggit gives the festival a deal on merchandise embroidery and screen printing, which the company has done for True/False pretty much every year of the festival, Sly said. Sometimes it tweaks the shirt design to make it work for the festival, and it’s a collaborative relationship overall. Diggit and True/False work together year-round.
“David [Wilson]’s a longtime client,” Sly said. “We just kind of developed a professional relationship over the years.”
The company also benefits from the advertising of True/False, whether it’s in the form of a sign by the shirts the festival sells or just word of mouth.
“I’m really proud of them for creating [True/False],” Sly said. “I see their stuff all over the world now. There was a TV commercial I saw, and someone was wearing a True/False shirt.”
You can see Diggit’s work in action at one of the many merch stations, or send in a design for your own T-shirt to 1000 W. Broadway.
Makes Scents has been sponsoring True/False since it moved into its current location at 19 S. Ninth St. in 2006, and owner Christina Kelley has been working with Ragtag Cinema and the founders of True/False for 18 years. The store has a strong relationship with the festival.
As a Simple sponsor, part of Makes Scents’ involvement with True/False includes putting items in the gift bags for Super and Silver passholders.
“We like to do something based on the theme,” Kelley said. “This year, there is lots of chemistry and science, so we’re doing bubbling bath salts in test tubes.”
The test tubes will be in the gift bags. There are six different scents, and each one comes with a card explaining the science behind the scent. For example, if it’s a champagne-scented one, the card will have the science behind champagne, Kelley said.
“[True/False is] such a great event for our community and downtown,” Kelley said. “It shows off a lot of great things about our town.”
Customers brought to town by True/False come back year after year. Since Makes Scents keeps files of custom scents it has created, customers can come back and get their favorite custom scent from the store.
“True/False folks are our people,” Kelley said.
Calhoun’s is another Simple sponsor of True/False. Located at 911 E. Broadway, it is in the heart of True/False. It has been a sponsor for about five years and has been in business for 27 years.
“I wanted to be a sponsor because I think [True/False] is such a great event for our community,” owner Lisa Klenke said.
Like Makes Scents, Calhoun’s also puts items in the big ticket swag bags, Klenke said. This year, it is including a candle, coaster and store coupon. There will also be a store coupon in the True/False guidebook.
“I go to the fest; I don’t volunteer — but it looks fun,” Klenke said. “When I retire, I’m gonna be one of the people in the Q all dressed up, if they’ll have me.”
Calhoun’s will also be open longer than its usual winter hours. On Friday it will be open until 8 p.m., and on Sunday it will be open from 12-4 p.m.
“We don’t have a mass onslaught of sales; in fact, I would say that a lot of our local business stays home during True/False,” Klenke said. “They’re usually replaced by True/False people, though. There’s always parking, but people have this thought that it’s busy so they stay home.”
Pizza Tree, one of downtown’s many pizza spots, is among the festival’s Local Hero sponsors and has been for five years, since the restaurant opened.
“Because the festival is really near and dear to my heart, we just want to make sure we’re a part of it,” owner John Gilbreth said.
The local pizza place works with True/False in providing pizza via donations to the festival, Gilbreth said. It makes over 100 pizzas over the course of the weekend to get picked up and taken to different True/False locations. Some pizzas may go to fest volunteers.
“We want to be able to give back to the people that give to us,” Gilbreth said. “We wanted to contribute something besides being open.”
Sponsoring True/False puts Pizza Tree into the festival program, but it’s not the only thing it sponsors throughout the year. The restaurant also donates gift cards based on a budget to organizations that request them online, Gilbreth said.
“[Sponsoring] is part of the goal, part of the mission of the store,” Gilbreth said. “The goal or mission is to be our community’s go-to spot for good pizza.”
You can grab some pizza during True/False every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 909 Cherry St.
Edited by Katherine White | firstname.lastname@example.org