Finally, your movie is finished. You had your pre-screening which aided in final editing decisions. Now it’s time to have your film seen on a larger scale with an advance movie screening. Here are ten easy tips to make your first advance movie screening an event that makes your film the talk of the town.
1. Identify Your Target Audience – An advanced movie screening is a promotional event as well as a way to get the public to see your movie. Who in the community can you partner with to help promote your movie and sell some DVDs? Maybe the screening location works with your movie theme, even if you are having it at a movie theater. One short film I know of partnered up with the Alzheimer’s Association. The short was about an older man having found memories of meeting his wife during World War II. Part of the DVD sales proceeds went to the association and they helped to promote the short film.
2. Pick Your Screening Site – The logical place to hold your screening would seem to be a movie theater. This is great idea, especially if you feel you can fill the seats and sell enough tickets to cover the rental cost. Other places make fine advanced screening venues also. Many apartment complexes have big screening rooms on site now days. Most can be rented for as little as $100 a day, if you are an apartment resident. Play houses are also good screening spaces. With play theatres you may have to rent a movie screen to bring in to use, as not all will have their own.
Photo: MOEVIEW is Aaron Molina
3. Set a Screening Date – Avoid holidays and local planned events when you are picking a screening date. You want to have the least possible competition to your event as you can. Keep in mind the season you plan to hold this in as people may have certain moods going on. For instance, not too many viewers really want to see a horror movie during Christmas. Sometime you can use an event to encourage interest in your screening, such as a romantic comedy around Valentine’s Day.
4. Plan the Screening Details – What will your screening schedule look like? Will your film be the only one, or will you screen other movies or shorts before or after yours? Will you have a discussion with questions after? Plan each minute of your screening time with the type of detail you put into your script.
5. Make a List and Check It Twice – Write out everything you will need for your event from the type of equipment you have to bring, to how many volunteers you’ll need. What will each volunteer’s job be? Is your screening format in VHS or DVD and do you have the projection equipment? Who will be responsible for bringing any items you plan to display for sale?
6. Create Evaluation Forms – Evaluation forms to hand out as people file in for your screening are very important. Plan thoughtful, clear and attractive forms and a pencil for them to fill it out. The information you collect can go a long way in helping to attract distributors and aid in advertising. On a side note, if you plan to video tape your screening, get your viewers to also sign a release to use their image and voice for promotional purposes.
7. Promote, Promote, Promote – Write news releases to send out to local media about your advanced screening. A day or two after the press release, follow up with calls. Distribute flyers, use email announcements and post to online production/film maker web sites. If you have the budget, print full size movie posters for around town, and mini movie posters to give away at the screening.
8. Confirm Everything the Day Before – Call everyone from your volunteers to rental equipment stores, to verify everything is smoothly on schedule. Have a back up plan when things screw up and stay calm and flexible. You may have to make some last minute adjustments, but keep in mind how much fun you are having.
9. Document the Screening – Have one volunteer take lots of pictures and another to video tape the event. Have a guest list ready at the entrance and create a mailing list from it. Make sure you have one person assigned to collect those evaluation forms and check that they are actually filled out. Record all the costs involved in hosting your advanced screening for the next event’s budget.
10. Follow Up – Most important of all, send thank you notes to all who supported the success of the advanced screening of your film. Comment on the event with posts to your web site, blog or newsletter. The people who couldn’t make your special event will love to see and hear news on how it went. They will want to double their efforts to make it to your next advanced screening.