Checking in with the local screening series

April 12, 2010
posted by sheric

Lemonade logo

It has been a while since I updated you on the progress of the screening series. We secured the film LEMONADE, a short-ish documentary by filmmaker Erik Proulx of Boston. We are screening it at the Marina Civic Center in Panama City, Florida on April 27. The Marina Civic Center is a pretty big venue and we will be showing it in an unconventional way. We aren’t trying to fill the 2,500 seats, we’ll settle for maybe 100, so we are configuring the screening layout so that it doesn’t look so overwhelming to the people who attend. Nothing worse than a large venue, mostly empty. Would be great if there was a bigger turnout, but as this is the first one, let’s be realistic. Why did I pitch this particular film?

In Jon Reiss’ book Think Outside The Box Office, he talks about making a theatrical screening an event, an experience, something that you couldn’t replicate at home and a not-to-be-missed occasion. I agree with that and we intentionally chose this film because of the subject it deals with; unemployment. That is a very big concern to many people ¬†right now and I wanted to find a way to provide inspiration to those out of work or unhappy with their jobs by coupling the film with other activities. Not only will we have a Skype Q&A with Erik, but some of the local small business incubator organizations will be on hand to offer advice on starting up a small business, tools and resources available in the community to help with that, and provide some much needed moral support to those recently unemployed. ¬†This isn’t something you could do watching the film from your sofa at home. And it only runs for one night, so if you miss it, the opportunity is gone to meet these organizations in a casual environment, chat with others in similar positions, and generally leave your troubles behind for a few hours.

I pitched this screening series idea to the Bay Arts Alliance and they were excited to add this to their program of live entertainment. Normally, they bring musical theater touring groups, concerts, comedians etc. to Panama City so they already have the infrastructure to deal with organizing and promoting events. I could have tried to do this on my own, but why reinvent the wheel when it already exists? They have a large base of support with audience, local business and the media. Not to mention a venue at their disposal. Perfect, just what I need. I encourage anyone who is thinking of starting a local screening series (and my I hope is that many of you will!) to look to the arts organizations already in existence in your communities. If they aren’t open to it or able to help organize it, at least cross promote events with them so you’ll have access to a base of their patrons in exchange for promotion at your screenings.

Now the media. This film and its subject matter provides a great angle for coverage. Local media have been doing stories on the unemployment situation and anything that would give people more encouragement instead of bad news is going to be of interest. We are going on the local ABC affiliate’s morning show on April 26. We have cut a radio show to air this week highlighting the film and we are booking with others at the moment. We expect a nice story in the local paper. Erik will probably be asked to contribute as well. As much local coverage as we can muster will only help us. It is a true team effort. We also have a Facebook event page and many have already RSVP’d their Will Attend. We will also be handing out flyers to local employment agencies and the unemployment offices so that everyone there knows about the event.

I plan to do a podcast with Erik in the lead up to the screening, just to raise the excitement level and keep people informed as to what the film is about and what they could get out of the event. It is interesting to note that LEMONADE was made entirely from donations. Equipment, travel, all production costs are by and for those who have been affected by unemployment. I think this will be a truly inspiring event. Watch this space for some video of the event, I hope to enlist the local film students for some footage production.

Trailer for LEMONADE

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