2014 experiment pairing entrepreneurs and film makers in Wilmington has spawned an entire conference dedicated to both career paths. 

Part of the 21st annual Cucalorus Film Festival in downtown Wilmington next week is year two of the 10 x 10 Filmmaker and Entrepreneur Project and a new event called Cucalorus Connect
Cucalorus Connect will include 50+ entrepreneurship related events and speakers over the four-day festival. It leverages some of the connections and events that took place during the 2014 UNCW Coastal Connect Conference, but rallies an even larger community of entrepreneurs. The big goal is to bring people together to think about what is driving Wilmington’s growth as a startup community and to highlight the successes so far. 
According to Cucalorus Executive Director Dan Brawley, the focus on entrepreneurship comes after three years of encouragement from community leaders to capitalize and supplement Wilmington’s growing entrepreneurial community. Last year was just the start, when Cucalorus paired 10 filmmakers with entrepreneurs to create short films about their businesses and ambitions. To prepare for a larger event in 2015, Brett Martin, CEO of Castle Branch, flew Brawley to South by Southwest in Austin so they could brainstorm more ways to integrate entrepreneurship content into the film festival. 
But it wasn’t until summer that the Cucalorus Connect leadership team fully jumped in to the planning stages for Connect, hosting weekly meetings with 20 community stakeholders. They view this year as just the start of a multi-year project to make Cucalorus Connect something special. Brawley says he sees a lot of parallels between Wilmington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and Cucalorus when it first began. He’s encouraged to see so many community leaders’ investment in the Connect effort. 

Day four features talks about healthcare tech, media innovation and downtown Wilmington as a tech hub. Also intriguing is a panel discussion featuring Kickstarter’s Dan Schoenbrun who crowdfunded a unique project mashing up several filmmakers’ dreams into a series of videos. 

And the final day, Sunday November 15, will reveal the winner of Port City Pitch and a party in which the 10 films will be shown. 

Tickets are available on an individual event basis or as a full access pass to all Cucalorus Connect Events. The pass includes five film screenings with the hope that entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to experience the film festival as well. 
The ultimate goal is to have a successful first year and use lessons learned to develop a long-term plan for an event that can be a mainstay in the entrepreneurial community for years to come.