Well...we've survived what has surely been the craziest week of Ivy Hill Entertainment's young history! Our house jazz trio kicked off the festivities last Tuesday at the Meet The Artist event and we haven't looked back. Twenty events spread out over the week featured our house dance + jazz bands at the festival gala, rotating groups of singer-songwriters at the village wine pavilions, a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants awards show band, and original music sets from Mr. Kind and Zen Zenith at the film industry mixer.

In addition to shmoozing at various after-parties and meeting lots of filmmakers, we also got to establish a HQ for our artists at a house generously made available to us by Clif Family Wineries. It was a great community and team building experience for our artists.

I gained many insights into the festival organizing process and have some takeaways that we will bring with us into the festival next year (hopefully!) as well as other endeavors we are planning in the new year.

Takeaway #1: Things Work Out

A festival of this size operates with a small year-round staff, supplemented by qualified contractors and a huge team of volunteers for the last couple of weeks immediately before the festival. What this means is that things come together very last minute.

We have an atypical make-up within our management team of mostly OCD and Type-A musicians and the slow trickle of information was frustration and anxiety producing. While being cognizant somewhat of the nature of a festival like this, it still caused a lot of stress during the lead-up, as we were trying to manage details for close to 20 musicians. There was a lot of last minute fluctuation, a few unexpected planning hiccups, and downtime spent pulling out my hair but everything more or less ended up going swimmingly.

We got our dance band going on at the @napafilmfest gala. #NVFF #nvff15

A photo posted by Ivy Hill Entertainment (@ivyhillentertainment) on

Takeaway #2: The Importance of The Hang

When Ivy Hill Entertainment work happens, we are usually either rehearsing just enough to prepare for a gig, are trying to plow through a to do list for building a business that is a mile long, or are spitballing ideas on new projects and room for growth. Well, you can only do so much of that when you have a group of a dozen musicians staying in a house together for a week, bouncing between events, parties, and staying up late. Not only was it a chance to hear from our artists about where they see themselves in the organization and to field questions about what more we can do for them, it was also a time for Costco muffins, Spot It, rubbing elbows at VIP parties, and Super Smash Bros. Sharing the experience together with so many people has left our artists with a head of steam coming out of the fest that we are going to distill in the new year. It was also the most time that many of our most utilized have spent with one another, deepening goodwill and revitalizing motivation.

Takeaway #3: There is a real demand for what we are doing

Leading up to the festival and during the early part of the week, it was difficult getting folks to understand what we were doing. Somehow, "We are a collective of about 20 different musicians performing 20 different events of different configurations, sizes, and styles" didn't translate to the masses. By the end of the week, however, we'd been seeing the same volunteers, staff, and attendees at event after event and our role had been driven home. People couldn't help but see the IHE name everywhere, which was useful, because we weren't promoting any one band or artist, rather we are promoting an idea. It's something we are still figuring out how to communicate ourselves but we are closer in that goal after this past week and have found that other people are pretty hip to it.

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In conclusion...

I couldn't be more proud of our artists and the quality of the work we did this past week. A lot of folks took a leap of faith and put in a ton of time into something that didn't pay much and was constantly shifting and changing. We hope to use this opportunity to grow a deeper relationship with the NVFF, the beautiful Napa Valley area in general, our artists, and our own brand of event production that we will be developing in 2016.

For now, we're going to rest up for the holidays.

Just kidding! I've got a gig tonight, a rehearsal tomorrow, and a gig this weekend.

- Brian Bergeron