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.