How did it happen that Prague become the cradle of the world's two most succesful film festival software systems?
Eventival was founded as a UK company in November 2008 near Fontainebleau, France, by Adrian Johnson, Tomas Prasek a Cha "Dawna" Yeo Myoung.
The original plan, however, was something entirely different.
In 2000, my fourth year as the guest services manager at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, I persuaded my colleague, the computer programmer Pavel Kalenda, to start a company called DataKal, to further develop and distribute software he originally created for KVIFF where we both worked. The first festival to which we exported the KVIFF model of work was the inaugural Bergen IFF in Norway, the second was Finale Pilsen, and because I had recently become fond of South Korea, the third was none other that the Pusan IFF (now BIFF, then PIFF) where we literally rewrote the entire map of the festival workflow.
DataKal eventually grew to become the first film festival software used around the globe. By 2008, over twenty medium to large festivals in Bergen, Busan, Thessaloniki, Udine, New York, Mar del Plata, Rome, Paris, Hamburg, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Goa used it for most of their logistics.
In 2004, while working on a major side project, the development of CuBa, the new festival software system for the Berlinale, its project manager and head of the Berlinale IT Matin Schiemann introduced us to the British entrepreneur and software developer Adrian Johnson.
In September 2008, while in Paris starting the work with Cinema du Reel, Adrian invited us for a beer with a proposal: let's join forces in a new company called Eventival that would create a kind of "DataKal light" - a simple, web-based platform focusing on smaller festivals and social events. After several months of preparations, Pavel suddenly pulled out of the project, and because I already experienced what a 50/50 partnership with someone who disagrees with you was like, I brought it Dawna Cha, my then life partner and colleague from MOFFOM (Music on Film / Film on Music), a film festival founded by the film producer John Caulkins which I adviced him on and which Dawna had managed for five years. Together, we founded Eventival in Fontainebleau.
Dawna and I moved to France where Adrian was based, and with our knowledge of the film festival operations and Adrian's programming skills, we began to develop Eventival, aiming to create a tool that would be useful to festival organisers in all stages of the event, simplify the organisational proces, improve their communication, increase their visibility and impact, and offer better services to professional visitors.
It was a big success from the start. At the Berlinale 2009, we attracted the attention of over fifty film festivals, and secured major clients like AFI Fest, Ventana Sur, Bergen IFF, the Giffoni Festival and, rather shockingly, the Toronto IFF. However, the company was understaffed, and despite enormous motivation, energy and work put into the development, it proved impossible to complete the platform on time. In August 2009, Dawna and I moved back to Prague, turned Eventival into a Czech company, and started from zero: this time with a proper development team, a UX designer, and an investor.
Today, Eventival is regarded as the leading innovator in festival technology and the resource of globally applicable knowledge and expertise in the film festival industry. Its software is used by film festivals and event organisers all over the world, and the range of services it provides and the relevance for the festival industry keep growing.
Eventival has clients in nearly 50 countries and its services are used by over half a million filmmakers and film industry professionals all over the world.
Dozens of people have contributed their ideas, skills and deditation to the creation of Eventival since the time the company was founded near Fontainebleau in 2008, We immensely appreciate the support and patience of all the festival organisers who trusted us when this unique and unusual company was merely an ambitious idea.