For those of you who are unfamiliar, a community screening model is an alternate version of a theatrical where instead of booking theaters across the country. There are so many places with high quality sound systems across the country that it can make a lot of sense to book these secondary locations instead of spending the money to four wall a theater. Since we talked about what a community screening package generally includes, I thought I’d go over what it takes to book those screenings this week.
1. Identify your Target Audience
The Secret utilized community screenings to great effect, as did other documentaries like Food Inc and Forks over knives. This tactic is most commonly utilized by documentary filmmakers, as their films tend to attract dedicated niche audiences with slightly more ease than a narrative film would. That said, if you can build a following for yourself and your film within this niche, there’s no reason that these same sorts of tactics couldn’t work as well.
2. Figure out a communal gathering place for them
If your community has a regular meeting place, such as a church, rec center, yoga studio, or other area that has a large screen that can be used to show movies it can be an extremely effective place to start talking to someone about hosting a film screening.
Even if your film isn’t a faith based film, some unitarian churches may still be worth approaching. The biggest downside to places like Unitarian churches, (or general use area like a rec center) is that they don’t always have the same sort of community built around them that places like churches tend to.
3. Research those community leads lists
Once you find an example community gathering place, you’re going to want to look for similar places around whatever region you’re looking to advertise community screenings to. I wouldn’t generally say to do a screening at more than one location per city, but since you’re not going to close every place you try, I’d consider getting 5-10 per area you wand to screen in.
Keep in mind, You’re living in a large, sprawling city like Los Angeles or Denver. If you are, you might want to consider holding one in different areas of the city. For Denver, you could consider one in LoDo, one in Aurora, one in Cherry Creek, and one in Highland’s Ranch. In LA, you could consider one in DTLA, one in Culver, one in Burbank, one in Santa Monica, and one in Westwood, etc.
4. Create a screening package
I covered this last week, since this blog was likely to come out long. Read it below:
RELATED: How to make a Community Screening Package
5. Generate marketing materials
The marketing materials I’m talking about are for marketing the people who would host the community screening, not those who would attend. The materials for those who would attend will be covered in more detail on the expansion of section 4 next week.
What I mean here are things like a pre-written email that you can plug some names into and send, a brochure on your film and why it would appeal to both your target audience and the people hosting it, a tiered pricing plan for your screenings that ideally start as a revenue share and go up from there.
6. Sell the community Screening package to them.
Finally, it’s time to dial for dollars and reach out to them. If possible, it will help your close rate immensely to send them the brochure in advance, but that can get a bit pricy. You can try sending a cold email, but it’s reasonably likely that you’d end up in more spam filters than would likely be helpful. I know that telemarketing isn’t fun, but it can be extremely useful in terms of actually moving these sorts of packages.
Thanks so much for reading! If all of this sounds like a lot (it is) it’s also a service I offer. Submit your film below and I’ll see if it’s something I can help with. If you’re looking for other great resources, check out my resources packet via the link in the center. If you really liked this content, and want to support it, check out my Patreon below. Thanks, and see you next week!
Right below our Sponsors
My name is Ben, I'm an Entrepreneur, Producer's Rep, and Author. I'm the founder of Guerrilla Rep Media, Co-Founder/CMO of ProductionNext, and founder of Producer Foundry. Together, the organizations seek to help make filmmaking a more economically sustainable endeavor. I am dysic, I have capitalization issues, and the blogs are often unedited. opinions all my own.