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How to organize a film/video screening

Step I: Plan

  • Identify and network with local partners: location, promotional group, target audience
  • Find a screening venue: business, movie theatre, school, community center, museum, computer center, hotel, park, etc.
  • Set a date; think strategically to avoid conflicts and maybe even piggyback on a similar event. Avoid holiday weekends, coordinate with local events. Consider attitudes and activities affected by seasons, holidays and events.
  • Make a list of all necessary equipment; figure out the format you will use (VHS, DVD, Beta) and secure the equipment for projection. You might be able to get projection equipment inexpensively if you partner with the provider of venue and/or equipment.
  • Plan the event; will you host a screening and/or discussion? Will there be supportive activities? Can any other films/videos be screened? Can you hold a thematic reception that focuses on the content of your story? Consider showing your film with one or two additional programs on similar or contrasting topics. By sharing space and expanding the audience, you can attract more people and have a greater impact.

Step II: Promotion

  • Create and distribute flyers, send e-mail announcements, post on local and online calendars, call community leaders and activists in the topic area of your program.
  • Media; write a news release and send it to local newspapers, radio and television stations, magazines and online publications, follow-up with phone calls
  • Promotional materials; print postcards, business cards, posters or other promotional material for your movie. Join with partners to produce a one-sheet about how people follow up on the screening with action. Set-up a table where these materials can be displayed

Step III: The Screening

  • Confirmation; the day before the event, make sure all key people will be there. Solve any problems that are identified.
  • Be positive and flexible; things don't always work out as planned, create back-up plans and recruit backup people. Keep a positive attitude -- and make it fun!
  • Document your event; ask a volunteer to take pictures and you might even videotape the event to create next year's trailer!
    • Pictures
    • Evaluation forms
    • Videotape key elements
    • Attendance list, and count
    • Document all equipment, supplies, timing and efforts involved (make a cookbook for next time)
  • Ask all attendees, volunteers, partners and supporters to add their name and contact information to your mailing list

Step IV: Follow Up

  • Send thank you notes to all key people who worked, volunteered, supported, and encouraged your project.
  • Add a summary of the event to your website, blog or newsletter. People want to know how you perceived the event and others who couldn't make it will want to come next time!
  • Be sure to let everyone know when your NEXT event is!

Step IV: Evaluate

  • Document and evaluate the event; hand out and collect evaluation forms to everyone who attends, and ask people what they thought. These comments can be used as testimonials on future promotional materials.
  • Learn from experience; use your experience, your notes, and the feedback from evaluation forms to make your next screening even better.

By making your event memorable with fun and involvement, you will help the people who attend the screening think and talk about your mission and the topics addressed in your film. They will also be ready to attend your next big event!

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