This post is part of our “Behind the Scenes” series of blogs in which we share “trade secrets”, stories, and insights into our filmmaking process to give fans & fellow filmmakers a glimpse into how we do it and what we’ve learned along the way.
YouTube has become the new television for an entire generation. Sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo have revolutionized the way projects get funded. The people have spoken and they want more control over what they consume.
Now, indie filmmakers and websites like Brave New Theaters are giving us the power to decide what movies are screened in our cities. Grassroots screenings have become an integral part of an indie film’s marketing and financial strategy. For organizers, film screenings are a great way to get people together to discuss or raise support about a cause near and dear to their hearts. So, how do we control the quality of these “grassroots” screening experiences? Do you let just any dude with a projector and a bed sheet screen your movie or do you try to maintain some control over how your film is seen?
Ultimately, what your screening should look like will depend on the nature of your film, your audience, and/or marketing plan, but we decided for our last film, “The Philosopher Kings”, that the quality of the presentation was an important part of experiencing this movie. We also found that a lot of well-intentioned people often find themselves putting a lot of time, money, and effort into a screening event only to be devastated by dismal turnouts, faulty equipment, or a disengaged crowd due to bad presentation. Even “legitimate” outfits get it wrong from time to time.
To help with this, we created a “Guide to Hosting a Screening of “The Philosopher Kings” (PDF) document that we distributed to everyone, along with info about costs, who expressed interest in licensing our film for a screening via our online request form. It lays out all the steps – everything from promotion to equipment suggestions – that need to be taken to ensure the best possible event. Once a screening was booked, people were encouraged to download promotional materials to advertise their event as well as a discussion guide to help facilitate a post-screening conversation with their audience. Of course, there are still no guarantees, but we found these few steps improved the quality of our screenings, and ultimately the audience’s experience of our film, a great deal.
Want to see a movie not playing at your local theater? Join the revolution – organize your own screening.