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How to Screen a Film - selections

Bob Banner

Some sources of films:

www.gnn.org (Guerrilla News Network)
www.arabfilm.com (Arab Film Distributing Company)
www.mep.org (the Media Education Project)

Some other sources for checking out videos. Watch POV on PBS and check out two excellent channels on satellite: Direct TV or DISH TV. Free Speech TV (FSTV) can only be seen via DISH TV net -work. It’s channel 9415. LinkTV is available on both satellite networks and is on channel 9410 at DISH and 375 on DirectTV. For free installation of the dish (and to own your own dish rather than continually leasing it) go to freespeech.org and click on “becoming a member.” For $25 a month you get very good channels (they offer 50 channels for that price) We decided to go for it since we were paying that much simply on video rentals a month.

Go to LinkTV.org to sample their documentaries. If you see one on their television station you can go back to the website and click “Buy Video” and learn how you can purchase the video and establish your negotiations right then and there for viewing the film in your community. Same thing goes for FSTV. If you see what you like, go to the website and browse. They even have a store with videos for sale that include video streaming and blurbs about the film. Most are in the $25 to $35 price market.

The advantage of both of these channels is that you can order the video or DVD online easily. For example, we saw a documentary/music video on LinkTV. I went to their website and located the schedule (unfortunately their “search” button is not operational currently) and located the CD and DVD... and immediately got the information I was seeking. Since I wanted to learn more about them I did a google search and came up with articles about the directors and certainly more information than I needed.

At http://hopedance.org/new/videos.html we have about 80% of our films online, under categories as well as summaries of the film. The new films are coming in so fast we don’t have an adequate system to keep them posted online. What we do have online are our PDF flyers and links to the film’s trailers that we are screening.

A typical response from how they heard about our film events goes like this:

1. the weekly entertainment periodical 35%
2. HopeDance 36%
3. Radio 2%
4. daily paper 2%
5. emails 9%
6. flyers 9%
7. mailers 6%
8. word of mouth 1%
TOTAL 100%

At the screening:

Make sure you put out an email sign up list for people who want to be contacted for future films. Perhaps even include a section for “volunteers” because it can be quite hectic without any.

If the chairs are already out there, that’s great. Some venues make you put them out and put them back. Tables are usually hidden somewhere so its wise to find out before hand where they put them because you will need them when it comes time to putting the drinks, literature, etc., on the tables. 3- 4 tables ought to do it, depending on who else you will be having as cosponsors some cosponsors want their own booth especially if its an organization that is complementary to the film you are showing. Make sure you have plenty of baskets for money: for food, and refreshments, for donations for literature and publications or sales for books and videos and a basket for collecting the film money at the door. You can get some very nice wicker-type baskets for 25¢ each at your local 2nd hand store. We just wad up the money at the end and I put it in my pocket and count it afterwards.

We advertise the film for 7pm. The doors open at 6:30. So it usually takes us 20 minutes to get everything together before we allow people in at 10 to 7pm. And that’s for the venues that have screens. If you are going to a venue that doesn’t have a screen add some more necessary time to put up the screen. We often times need to bring our ladders at certain venues so we can lift the screen together to hang it.

It can be grueling at times. That’s the reason we like to pay ourselves back with money. I mean we both have day jobs but what a great way to gather people, entertain them, disturb them, educate them and to find out what is re -ally happening in the community especially when people speak out during the discussion that follow the film. Sometimes you will notice people exclaiming, “Why hasn’t the mass media told us this?” It reminds me of the old town hall days when local people came to talk about their lives, their disappointments, their anger and their solutions.

I am not a leader. I simply facilitate discussions and sometimes I can usually tell when people want to leave. I’m intuitive enough not to force them to stay when they are leaving but then I also want to be able to remind them that a discussion is going to happen afterwards if they all start pouring out of the the -ater like lemmings? It also depends on the film and the audience energy. Friday nights are rife with escapist energy. A disturbing film like “Afghan Massacre” or “Gaza Strip” or “Satya” will leave people motionless at times and you need to respect what they just saw and are now trying to process their feelings. And if anyone gets unruly at a film director for example, you need to prepare yourself for a calm yet direct comment that keeps the question and answer process moving.

If you feel qualified to announce the films, fine. If you don’t, then find someone or find an assortment of people to call on for this simple task. What we used to do to is to have someone in the community who already is knowledge -able, come and present the film and facilitate the comments afterwards. His/her answers and facilitation can be superb. But you need to be careful especially since the audience has just been sitting for almost an hour and a half being talk -ed to and they certainly don’t want to be talked to again. If you have someone in mind, make sure they understand this and suggest they simply facilitate and be there for questions the audience might have. Also, let the audience answer. We are all experts. If I don’t know an answer I always throw it back into the audience and for sure there is someone who knows the answer. This business of experts talking at people has got to be reinvented. We are facilitating and draw-ing out the truth from the group / audience.

Bob Banner is publisher of HopeDance, washes windows, screens films, owns a Film Library in San Luis Obispo where more than 400 films are stored for rental purposes. He is overseeing film gatherings in Ojai, Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Los Olivos, Templeton, Cambria and San Luis Obispo. He can be reached at HopeDance, POB 15609, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406 USA... www.hopedance.org; 805 544 9663, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He lives in San Luis Obispo, CA with his 2 cats and 4 chickens, and is continually updating this ebook / booklet. Pamphlets sold separately cost $10 via as an ebook or $12 to be printed and mailed.