Raindance’s 25th Birthday:
Raindance was formed by Elliot Grove in 1992 at a moment of deep crises in the British film industry. In 1992 only six features were made. But Grove and a small band of filmmaker/entrepreneurs that included Edgar Wright (the first Raindance intern) were determined to make their movies without training, without experience or without traditional funding. Grove seized on the then-current lack of practical film training and started Raindance Open Classes which provided down-to-earth practical information from working industry practitioners, mainly from America.
This “Can Do It attitude remains at the heart of Raindance DNA and informs major decisions even after a quarter century.
After organizing unique and revolutionary short film training courses the Raindance Film Festival was born to showcase local talent. It’s grown to be one of the world’s largest independent film festivals and is Oscar, BAFTA and BIFA qualifying for films.
- 1993 – first Raindance held at Planet Hollywood and the Prince Charles in Leicester Square
- 1993 – 2001 Raindance invented and hosted London Screenings – industry market screenings. At the time these market screenings attracted upwards of 1,000 acquisition executives a year to preview new work from all over the world. This advantage was lost when the American Film Market changed to a competing date, the MIFED market closed and the UK Film Council refused to fund the London Screenings. As a result, the third market moved to Berlin during Berlinale, called European Film Market.
- In 1998 Grove founded the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) – now a significant industry event in the UK and highly regarded internationally. BIFA uniquely celebrates British films and filmmakers.
- In 2004 Raindance began presenting courses and events in Grove’s original home town of Toronto. He’d worked in the studio system there in the 1980’s and understood the mindset of a city where a strong service industry existed but virtually no indigenous film industry. Grove felt that the Raindance brand of film training and networking events offered in London would fit well with Torontonians. Curiously, his brand of “Can Do It’ gets a better reception in Toronto from government agencies like Telefilm Canada than from their British counterparts.
- In 2007, just two years after Youtube was launched, Grove launched an online service to offer independent films to the general public via a web portal he named Raindance.TV. Grove is an early adopter who realised how technology merged with social media was about to change the film distribution landscape. While Grove proved the concept, management was yet to be in place to leverage this opportunity.
- In 2010 Raindance opened training hubs in Berlin, Budapest, Brussels, and New York. These hubs offered a small portion of the Raindance Open classes and focused on community building thorough networking events.
- In 2011, Raindance Toronto was incorporated and has become a thriving, dynamic hub which carries the brand overseas, offering high quality Raindance signature training and industry-facing events. An office and studio rental space for filmmakers in the heart of Toronto’s film district keeps it relevant and connected to emerging Canadian talent, along with networking communities in Vancouver and Montreal.
- In 2011 Raindance launched a Postgraduate Film Degree in conjunction with Staffordshire University. What made this programme significant was how it blends work-based training with academic excellence. By 2016 the programme has had nearly 200 students from every continent [the largest MA in Film programme in the UK] of which nearly 50 have graduated.
- In 2012 Raindance signed a 25 year lease on a 5,000 square foot facility just beside Trafalgar Square with a 25 year lease, a massive increase from the 500 sq ft original office on Berwick St in Soho. Now aptly named the Raindance Film Centre, the space is devoted to film training, networking events, castings and rehearsals. This insures venue stability which in turn allows Raindance the brand to project security and safety.
- In 2013 Raindance opened networking hubs in Vancouver, Montreal and Paris.
- A film production arm: Raindance Raw Talent Ltd was formed headed by Ate de Jong (Drop Dead Fred) produced the first of a slate of films, Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. For the first time a British NGO proves that producing unknown and debut films can be profitable.
- In 2013 Raindance is launched a distribution arm, partnering with VUE Cinemas – Europe’s largest cinema chain. The Raindance on Tour programme launched with a 6 city tour of festival films allowing people outside of London to sample truly independent fare and offering them a choice beyond the typical Hollywood fare. Distribution remains the key bottleneck for independent filmmakers in Europe and the Americas. Raindance believes this JV partnership with the VUE cinema chain will help right this. British cinema chains are increasingly interested in programming ‘alternative’ content
- In 2015 Raindance launched a co-production market featuring filmmakers from Mexico In a throw-back to London Screenings in the mid nineties, the co-production market features unfinished film projects from Latin America seeking European co-production partners.
- In 2016 Raindance launched a Virtual Reality strand in the festival and began bespoke 360/VR training.
- in 2016 Raindance launches a HND Level 5 BTEC in Moving Images
- In 2017 Raindance launches a relationship with China – the legal details being solidified at the time of writing