Running a Screening Campaign

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Some of the audience members at the Dublin, California screening of “Scouts Honor: Inside a Marching Brotherhood.”

There’s been a tremendous response to our “Theatrical On Demand” release with all of the screening requests that have popped up all over the United States. It’s exciting to see that so many people are interested in seeing our film in a movie theater. While we’ve had a good number of successful screenings, there have been many screenings that have been cancelled because they haven’t pre-sold the required number of tickets.

The way that these Gathr screenings work is that there’s no cost to the person that requests the screening. They don’t have to deal with the rental costs to book their local movie theater for a one night screening. Gathr does all the heavy lifting by arranging the rental with the theater and translates the cost into a minimum number of tickets that need to sell. This number varies from location to location and can be seen on the screening page for a specific date/location.

It’s largely up to the “Movie Captain” (the person that requests the screening) to promote the screening to get that minimum number of tickets sold. Think of this like you are running a political campaign or a Kickstarter campaign, but instead of having to get a certain number of votes, or a total amount of money raised by a deadline, you need to get a specified number of tickets sold to make the screening happen. Your job is to get people excited about the movie, and then educate them on how these screenings work.

Here are a number of steps that we recommend:

  • Start by reaching out to your family and close friends to buy the first tickets before you do a big promotional push. Your screening page starts with 2 reservations which are FREE tickets for you to utilize. If you get your reservation number into double digits, people will see that others are interested in seeing the film. If your number is stuck on 2 or 3 it’s less likely that other people will want to reserve tickets.
  • Assemble a small team to help you promote the screening and come up with a plan of who’s doing what, so you’re aren’t all hitting up the same people to purchase tickets. Most of the screenings that have tipped have had more than one person doing promotion throughout the life of the campaign.
  • Create a Facebook “Event” for your screening and set it to “Public.” Put your city name in the title, and craft your description carefully to make it clear what your event is about, how tickets are purchased (include the Gathr URL for your specific screening), list when your deadline is, and that tickets are not available at the door. Invite your friends and encourage other people to invite their friends using your event page. Post something every day like one of our videos, an image or a call to action.
  • Reach out to your local music groups (high school bands, drum lines, color guards and other musical ensembles) to inform them about your screening. Figure out to connect with staff and the members of these groups
  • Talk to local businesses like music instrument sales/rental stores about your screening and ask if they will help you get the word out. Our film has inspired people to join their local music groups so you might be creating new customers for them!
  • Utilize our Facebook group for Gathr Movie Captains. Read through the posts and comments to see what’s been discussed to date, and then ask questions. It’s a great way to reach not only us, but other Movie Captains. We don’t want you to feel like you have to reinvent the wheel.
  • Modify our Gathr screenings “press release” to fit the details of your screening. It is posted under “files” on our Facebook Gathr Movie Captain forum. Send it to your local newspaper, radio and TV press to ask if they’ll help you spread the word.
  • Visit our new “Gathr Screenings Tips” page to see video tips and to access a PDF with more detailed information about the screening process.
  • Put in time, everyday, to promote your screening. If you know that you are going to be unable to put in the time because of a big project at work, your full class load at school, or you are going out of the country during the time that you need to be promoting then perhaps you should plan your screening for a different date.

Don’t be discouraged if there’s not much movement on your ticket sales. Many campaigns see a surge at the beginning, a lull in the middle portion of the campaign, and then a surge at the end. Keep promoting throughout the whole thing, get creative, and while we will do our best to let people know about your specific screening, you have more power to sell tickets because you ultimately know your community better than we do.

Take advantage of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but don’t rely on them exclusively. Sometimes those tools cast too wide of a net, so be sure to focus on your local community and figure out to entice them into buying tickets. Nothing beats one on one conversations with people, either on the phone or in person. Emphasize that these tickets are not sold at the door and that the screening only happens if the ticket quota is met.

To find the current listing of screening locations & dates, visit our “SCREENINGS” page.

Good luck!

The Scouts Honor Team

 

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