Our annual film festival, SECS Fest, turns 6 this year. Compared to the likes of Seattle International Film Festival (48), Seattle Queer Film Festival (26), Local Sightings (25), and Translations (17); we are an extremely young festival. Nevertheless, 6 feels like an accomplishment. Especially for a niche film festival like ours.
When we started the Seattle Erotica Cinema Society (SECS), we were one of few festivals in the USA screening explicit films. SECS was created to showcase archival films, features, and international films. We wanted to give these films the same treatment that any other film gets at a festival. Why should pornography be something you only watch at home privately?
Our hope is that you may discover something new at one of our screenings. Pornographic films are as stylized, artistic, and moving as a non-explicit film. SECS Fest has screened docuporns, experimental, comedy, dance, dramatic narratives, and music videos – all with explicit content. Guest film scholars and historians give our archival films context. Filmmaker Q&As inspire discussion with audience members.
It’s not easy being a festival that shows erotic content. We struggle with advertising our shows on social media, working with vendors that will allow us to sell tickets online, holding virtual events and much more – all because of the content of our films. Despite this, we have somehow made it to year 6.
When the COVID pandemic hit, the Grand Illusion (SECS’s home venue) shutdown. We were unable to hold monthly screenings which helped us fund our annual film festival. For our 4th annual SECS Fest we went virtual. Turnout was better than we thought but still low. A year passed. Seattle was cautiously reopening. Weeks before our 5th annual SECS Fest occurred, the Grand Illusion opened its doors again and we held an in-person festival. Needless to say, attendance was extremely low. As the months have gone by, attendance has gotten better; but it’s still not what it was pre-COVID.
Most of our budget goes into our annual festival – venue rental and advertising being the largest costs. However, there are many other costs that go into putting on a festival – ticketing, poster art, printing flyers, etc. Our volunteer staff take on all aspects of festival production: programming, print traffic, communication with filmmakers, website management, newsletters, event coordination, social media/marketing, festival trailers, and all the tasks in between. We dedicate our personal time to make SECS Fest happen. Though our team is small, it says a lot that we have been committed to SECS for over 6 years.
Each year before the pandemic, we’ve somehow managed to stay afloat. But the last two years have hurt our small budget.Though our primary focus is SECS Fest, monthly screenings are a great way for audiences to find us, connect and learn more about our organization. Our monthly screenings have predominantly been a way to feature repertory films such as SEX WORLD, THUNDERCRACK!, SHORTBUS, and BIJOU. But we’ve also used those screenings to bring in newer restorations of older films or current films outside the scope of our annual festival. There is much to rediscover in the genre of erotic films and our goal is to bring more of that to our audience now that theaters have reopened. But we need your help – distribution fees to book films cuts into our festival budget, which is routinely tight.
We hope you can see the value of our mission and help us continue to grow and develop our foundation. We’d love to be on that list of festivals I mentioned earlier – hitting our 10, 15 and 20th year!
All our appreciation,
The SECS Fest Team
To contribute visit www.wagives.org/organization/Secsfest