Screenings

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Screenings can be a great tool in campaigning work. By getting people face to face they can be used as an organising tool to get people to take action. Additionally you can use screenings to raise money for your cause and also to sell copies of your video.

Advance planning

  • Decide what the aims and objectives of the screening are - what are you trying to acheive? Increased public awareness? Fundraising for your organisation? Mobilisation? Getting your aims and objectives sorted first will help with planning the rest of the event.
  • Determine a good name for the event and write a one-paragraph description, including the film info, and what if anything else will be happening on the night.
  • Consider the who will your audience be - the general public or a specific community?
  • Decide what kinds of videos and issues will you be presenting besides your own and whether there will be other entertainment (music, poetry, dance, etc.) or speakers?
  • Establish a contact person and phone number for each group involved in the show.
  • Decide who gets any money raised - through ticket sales or donations? Is this a 'benefit' for a particular group? Many venues will take a proportion of the ticket receipts. What will you tell people that you will do with any money you raise?
  • Line up your people, groups and videos and establish a minimum of commitment from everyone involved.
  • Choose a Host or Master of Ceremonies (MC) to introduce the film (and any other parts of the 'show'). You want someone confident, informed and outgoing, if you are to make a real impression on the audience.
  • What can s/he ask people to support or do after they leave your show? Are there other relevant events to announce at this show? Get flyers and fact sheets for upcoming events and related issues to hand out to people as they come in, to pass around during the MC's intros, or to simply have available at a literature table. You will probably also want to have a stall selling or giving our copies of the film(s) you are screening.

Venues and schedules

Check out what is available at potential venues in terms of

  • video and audio technology - what is there, what do you need to bring?
  • technical assistance, in case things go wrong on the night
  • seating for the audience, visibility of the screen and stage, if any
  • provision of refreshments, does the venue do this?
  • times of opening and closing, your 'window' for screening
  • any charges for use of the venue or their resources
  • whether the location is easily accessible for your desired audience
  • other considerations specific to your screening needs

It may take months to get a slot and to be included on the venue's calendar, advertising, website and other outreach. Or you might not care so much about that (although good advertising greatly improves attendance) and can negotiate for a show on an off-night when a cinema, community centre or club have nothing else scheduled.

Find out by when the venue will need the final description of the show for use in their calendar, publicity etc. Include at least one compelling graphic (often a still from the video itself) that describes the show and the issues involved.

Consider serving refreshments, if there are none going to be available at the venue. Make contact with a local and supportive caterer, this can be another way to raise money if you charge for drinks or snacks. Start discussion how any arrangement will work - financially, logistically etc.

Publicising the Screening

Design a flyer, using the description and graphic as a minimum. Se the guide to Making an information leaflet for information on how to use Scribus  to do this. Be sure to include the admission price, if you have one, or suggested donation.

Write a Press Release explaining who, what, where, when and why of the show, and suggesting how your screening is connected with recent or upcoming political actions or events, thus helping them to find an 'angle' to cover it. Send the press release plus flyer to your local media.

Some other tips for publicising your secreening;

  • Circulate Internet and e-mail postings
  • Borrow and build an email list of interested people and organizations. You can surf around a bit on the internet for some local organizations to mail to.
  • Postal mailings may be more expensive than they are worth unless you are an organization with some cash flow, or there is no alternative.)
  • Explore other ways to announce your event.
  • Make invitations to allied groups who might want to share their publications etc at the event. Find out if they need a table or space made available for them, make sure this is feasible given the venue.
  • Post flyers at local media and arts centres and also with local organisations and NGOs that would support the event.

Planning your screening

  • Watch all videos and plan order you'll show them in.
  • Check for any audio or video problems, make sure you will have the right technology to play all the media you will bring.
  • Write notes for the host, including list of who is speaking, who produced the videos, action points, other events to flag etc.
  • Decide on final timings.
  • Make a Sign-Up Sheet for your audience to get more info in the future. Be sure to ask for Name, Phone Number and Email Address or postal address.
  • Confirm times and responsibilities with all the people involved in the screening. Who runs the projector? Who collects any money? Give them the basic schedule of the night and ask them to turn up at least 2 hours before the show to help set up (depending on how much they are involved). Determine who will stay to help clean up and gather your materials.
  • Call/text your friends, activists, everyone you know to remind them about the show. This works. Make a follow up call to your local media contact.
  • Set up at least two hours before the show: check that all video and audio equipment is set up and cue any tapes/DVDs/Files
  • You are the bottom-line for the show. That means you need to stick around to help clean up cups and papers and other trash left on the floor, that you make sure you get the money from whoever was doing the door, and that any chairs and tables are in order.
  • Have fun, that's half the reason to do another one!

Adapted with thanks from How to do a Screening by Bay Area Indymedia