How do you organize a screening?

(Anna Bateman) #1

Some friends and I have been working on a show and a prequel short and we really want to do, like, a premiere screening before anything gets put online. It’ll be a while before it happens but we wanted to be prepared and then realized we have NO IDEA how to do that! Do you just call theaters? We’re college students and very broke and I have a feeling renting out a movie theater is expensive… any help is much appreciated! Also, is it bad form to sell tickets, or should it be free?

(Bri Castellini) #2

I know @jonathankyall has a screening coming up so calling him in, as well as @wke-andrew and @whoisjonporter and @avincie and @SnobbyRobot since I know they’ve done them before. @HackettKate have you done screenings before?

(Bri Castellini) #3

My 2 cents, having never organized a screening myself that wasn’t for Stareable, is that you shouldn’t limit your venue search to theaters- just find a place with seating and a projector. Bars, restaurants, cafes, etc might have good options. Also, ask your school!

(Anna Bateman) #4

Bars have projector screens sometimes? And yeah unfortunately our school charges for non-class-related projects (I asked. It’s really weird)

(Meg Carroway) #5

If you don’t feel comfortable selling tickets, you could always do a “suggested donation” box! Some people will drop in $5, some $20 if they’re feeling helpful!

(Jonathan Kaplan) #6

Well for our Long Island screening, we live near a great little independent movie theater and we are self financing the screening, renting the facility like anyone else would. We are doing a lot of promotional legwork to local news and posters and flyers but essentially that’s that. Our other screening is in Pittsburgh where Marianne lives and our longtime comedy friend owns a comedy theater out there, and we are working with him on that.

(Bri Castellini) #7

Good call! You should make sure to mention it before the event, though, since not everyone carries cash

(Anna Bateman) #8


(Anna Bateman) #9

Did you try to get a deal for being a poor and starving filmmaker or did you pay full rates?

(Anna Bateman) #10

Thanks, Meg! That might be an option!

(Bri Castellini) #11

They DO have screens sometimes! They have them for sports games or big events like presidential debates/elections, or have done screenings in the past

(Anna Bateman) #12

That makes so much sense. Thanks for the tip!!

(Jonathan Kaplan) #13

I became a member of the theater and I got a better rate. The theater has great programming so I enjoy going there. The whole reason I have a job is to flush my money down the toilet on these things. One day I’ll learn the art of crowdfunding or whatever but till then we just take the hit. We are gonna prob sell cheap tickets but aren’t sure how it will go!

(Anna Bateman) #14

When you say “cheap” what does that mean? $5? $10?

(Jonathan Kaplan) #15

Prob $5 - we think that’s fine and we are having free wine afterwards so it should be a good deal. If it helps us pay for the space, great, but we are just throwing ourselves a party.

(Arthur Vincie) #16

I had good luck with 61Local in Brooklyn. The screening space was inexpensive, and they worked with me to set up a ticketing system for drinks, and a platter arrangement. While I probably spent too much on food & booze, I would’ve done that anyway.

Anthology Film Archives also has two really nice screening rooms. They’re a little cold in the winter unless things have changed since I was last there.

I’ve also talked with the NY Public Library, Queens Public Library, and various nonprofits about screening all/part of the show as all/part of an event. It takes a while to get these going (budget for at least one month of discussion, planning, etc.)

You want to put in some time sending out personalized emails to anyone you think would be good to have on hand for your screening. Cast & Crew, of course, but also crowdfunding supporters, people in the film/tv industry, any press.

If it’s a public event I find spending a little on FB advertising over a two week period, and creating an FB event page to support it, really does help turnout. Just tweak the FB ad as specifically as possible without getting down to just a handful of people.

If the venue will be creating the event page, work that out with them. I’d still recommend doing your own ad.

(Bri Castellini) #17

We just did a Stareable x Kitsplit x Seed & Spark meetup at 61 Local! Great turnout and a great location- will have to keep them in mind for future things!

(Anna Bateman) #18

Ah well I’m not in New York but the library idea is interesting! I’ll have to see if that’s an option here!

(Arthur Vincie) #19

Also, I’d recommend talking to bars. Some have regular screening programs - it’s good for them 'cause people show up and drink. Others are willing set up a screening for not a ton of dough (again, they’re making money off the booze and food, so they just want the bodies).

You should also think about non-traditional venues that offer a good “fit” for your subject matter. My last feature was a sci-fi film, so I put together screenings at a sci-fi bookstore, a sci-fi meet-up group, and some cons. The new webseries is about NYC immigrants (it’s fiction), and there’s a strong social justice component to the piece. So we’ve done panel discussions + screenings at bookstores as well as at the library (see my earlier post), and at colleges.

(Jonathan Kaplan) #20

Anna - Mention of the library reminded me that many years ago, when I was just out of high school, I used to have screenings of nature documentaries on the weekends and have musicians play. I almost completely forgot about this part of my life. Anyway, YES the library can possibly be your best friend! Talk to people and they will open doors for you!