Caitlin Boyle of Film Sprout joined us to talk about how she sees community screenings as a vehicle for social change. She used her work on Diana Whitten’s film Vessel, a Chicken & Egg Pictures grantee and member of our Reel Reproductive Justice cohort, as a case study of how screenings can activate communities on an issue; in this case, abortion access.
Here are her strategies for using community screenings to create engagement around your film:
The filmmaker and partners should set goals for what each screening should accomplish.
In some places, Vessel screenings collected ticket fees to fund abortion access, while in areas with limited or no abortion access, bringing the film for free was paramount.
Use the calendar to give the campaign an arc.
For the Vessel screenings, Caitlin utilized the Roe v. Wade anniversary and International Women’s Day to plan special events and incentivise screenings during those days.
Align metaphors in movie with engagement campaign.
For the Vessel screenings, the engagement campaign used metaphors like “going into uncharted waters” to market the events.
Think outside the fee.
Not every group can pay screening fees but you can barter free screenings for translations into other languages and retitling or subtitles, which will help the film reach more places.
Make sure engagement happens offline as well as online.
There was a large audience for Vessel in pro-choice 60-80 year olds who might not be on facebook or using email. Use digital platforms, but remember to make calls to reach your audience.
Survey screening hosts to get feedback, metrics and understand impact.
Send your survey a few weeks after and keep it short, about 15 questions.