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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Some tips on producing DIY screenings

Fellow LOOP DIY Film Group member Agnes asked about my approach to producing DIY screenings/"4-walled" events, with an emphasis on getting a good audience turnout for the screenings. Here's the short version of the answer (maybe I'll write a book on this issue once I successfully complete the Date Number One self-distribution project). I am sure there are tons of great ways to approach a DIY screening project, these are some of the ways I get it done (feel free to share your tips for it, if you've done it well):

1. Show a film that at least some people want to see (try to have realistic expectations for ticket sales - go w/ low estimates of attendance, spend money accordingly on the screening event).

2. Publicize the event really well, I'd say for @ least 3 weeks prior to the event, also, from the target audience, to get 100 people to show up @ the event, let 1000 people know.

3. Tie the screening in to a longer term money making plan (even if the screening is not too well attended, use the resulting press & publicity from the screening to sell DVDs & merch).

4. If you are not the salesperson/marketing type, hire or otherwise recruit someone who is like that, who is energetic, not afraid to talk to people, will offer people info. on the event in a non-alienating manner, can make people excited about an event.

5. Keep expenses as low as possible, but do not cheat the end user - try to provide an excellent experience/product for the paying audience members.

6. Spread risk out over several screenings. The same amount of work can publicize 1 screening, let's say on a Fri night, or 6 screenings held over Fri, Sat, Sun.

7. Think of distribution/DIY screenings as the 4th stage of film production:
Stage 1. script & pre-production
Stage 2. production
Stage 3. post-production
Stage 4. distribution
Your job as a filmmaker is not done, if u r a DIY filmmaker, until you sell your movie to the ultimate user (through ticket sales to screenings, DVD sales, etc.). Stop expecting distributors to take care of you all the time, try to take care of yourself regardless of whether distributors want your film or not. You created & own the product & you have the most to gain through a proactive approach to distribution.

8. As an artist, develop a community for fans of your work, also a community of peers, keep in touch w/ your audience & peers on a regular basis. This way, as your film gets done & ready to show, a bunch of people will already know about it, makes your marketing work easier. Blogs & website & webgroups will help on this item.

- Sujewa


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3 comments:

Arin Crumley said...

A couple tips to add, i already commented on another post about trying to collect zip codes of people who sign up to want to see the film, that way you are booking your film in an area you know has interest.

Another tip for this list, get the right team involved. Just like you need an audio mixer who knows how to aim the microphone at the actor and a DP who knows how to light a set, you need some team players who know marketing and distribution, can speak on the level of theater owners, can approach a venue or a sponsor or whatever, a filmmaker may or may not have all these skills themselves, but just because the filmmaking is over doesn't mean you can't still work with a team, but the team may have to be a different set of people.

Another couple tips, video invitation, why not use video to communicate with people, as filmmakers this is supposed to be our main ability right.

RSVP lists, myspace has this tool and others too as well and I'm sure sites like withoutabox will eventually have this, a way for people to see who is planning to attend. Don't forget that the difference between watching a dvd and going to a theater is that going to the theater is a social experience. You laugh at the same time everyone else does etc... so push that, let people know who the others are, because unlike studio films, you will have a community of people that are like minded and you might have a much greater level of social benefits to your audience. We're hoping that people who come see our film at IFC Center in September might meet some other cool people, maybe even someone will find a date at the screening rather then before, or some people both planning on going will get in touch with eachother. So the basic point here is community, it's a good thing, and it's the advantage we have that studios don't.

Arin

arin crumley said...

oops, just realized my other comment never got posted, only previewed, so basically it just said that when collecing email addresses for a mailing list for a film, you mine as well give the impression they are signing up to see the film and also ask for zip and country info. This data can later be processed using access to create either a cluster map to share with the audience like we've done on our site, or you can just sort the zip codes and in excel in order and kind of visually gauge how many you have in each city. When a festival approaches you and you already have a fan base someplace, you know what you are bringing to the table and you can ask for a screening fee instead of showing for free, so that way festivals can start to be used as a platform for distribution and monotizing your film, not just as publicity, because I think we all know by now, that only the main festivals really provdide huge publicity and the rest are really just about finding an audience, but all of this talk about DIY distro and abilities is going to start to make what festivals offer seem not that great unless filmmakers can get a cut for the efforts of not only making the film, but now also marketing the screenings.
Arin

The Sujewa said...

Hey Arin,

Great ideas all. Good luck w/ the IFC center screening. I was just in NYC, went by the IFC center, will be submitting my flick Date Number One to them to get some screenings. Anyway, you & Susan are doing a great job in publicizing 4Eyed. I saw the film in DC a few weeks back (actually saved that screening by solving a computer problem, wrote about it at my other blog DIY Filmmaker Sujewa). I will be checking out some of your distro related ideas to see if they may work for my distro project. Great ideas, thanks for sharing them.

- Sujewa