YERT Screening Guide
Quick Planning Guide
Just want the basics? We’ve got them for you here. Find many more ideas further down.
- Purchase a screening license here: http://yert.com/screenings.php . Get several groups involved to help fund and promote the event.
- Share your screening date/time/location information with the YERT calendar here.
- Create a Facebook page for the event. Share the event on our Facebook page.
- Customize and distribute the YERT postcards included with your screening license.
- Download and share posters, photos, and other digital media from our online press kit.
- Use text from mini blurbs, bios, and endorsement quotes from our online press kit.
- Embed the YERT trailer on your Facebook page, blog, and screening announcements.
- Share the news about the screening in-person and via e-mail, web, social networks, etc.
- For college screenings, ask professors/instructors to give extra credit to students for attendance.
- For ideas on good post-screening discussion questions, check out our YERT Film Discussion Guide.
- Read on below to learn from our past experiences and make the most of your event!
Detailed Planning Guide
There’s no single right way to host a YERT screening, but here are some handy guidelines that we’ve assembled through the years to make the most of your event.
Please note: This planning guide contains information that applies to all kinds of screenings (college, community, institutional). As a result, every suggestion may not apply to your specific screening, but don’t worry! Just use whatever ideas might be useful to you. (Special thanks to students at Bowdoin for several helpful insights.)
- FUNDING: Assemble funding for the screening event. If you’d like one of the filmmakers to visit, we generally request an honorarium + travel expenses for an in-person visit. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a quote on those fees. For university/college screenings, you can often collect funds from various departments on campus that are interested in environmental, engineering, economic, political, social, ecological, biological, or sustainability topics. (i.e. Biology, Engineering, Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, Sustainability, Green Building/Architecture). You may also find funding available from student or faculty-led organizations on campus. Facilities departments also often have a vested interest in campus sustainability awareness. Often organizations or departments will be more interested or have more money available if there’s a live filmmaker visit or videochat as part of the screening event, as this makes for a more unique, high-visibility and interactive experience. (See FILMMAKER VISIT section below for details.) You may also find that your library has a budget for purchasing documentary film licenses, and our standard Institutional Screening License includes a single screening with the library purchase. For community screenings, you can often collect funds from a variety of local sponsor groups-- the more groups, the lower the cost per group. Furthermore, if more groups are involved in the planning and funding process, you will have more partners for outreach efforts. Encourage groups to support the event by offering them a table at the screening where they can share news and materials about their group with screening attendees. Finally, a straightforward way to help cover costs is simply to charge a ticket price for the screening, either informally through “passing the hat” or requesting a “suggested donation,” or more formally by charging people at the door and/or via an online system (like Brown Paper Tickets) that you already know how to use. Unless we discuss an alternative arrangement with you, your full-priced screening license purchase entitles you to keep all ticket proceeds.
- SCREENING LICENSE: Purchase your screening license at http://yert.com/screenings.php . You don’t need to have a date set before purchasing the license. If the prices listed at the website are simply too high for you, please contact us at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to discuss alternative pricing options with you. The film was created as a labor of love from our personal savings and grassroots fundraising, and while we don’t expect to be able to make back our money anytime soon, screening fees help us continue our outreach with the film and support our work as filmmakers. NOTE: We have three possible lengths of the film that you can choose for your screening. The default length is the full 112 minute film. We also have shorter 70 and 60 minute versions and Blu-Ray versions available by special request to firstname.lastname@example.org prior to your order (some additional charges may apply). If you would like to purchase additional screening licenses beyond your initial order, please contact us (email@example.com) for pricing-- we generally offer significant discounts on subsequent screenings.
- VENUE: Reserve the screening venue, then share the date, time, and location information with us (here) and we’ll put it on the official YERT calendar: http://yert.com/screenings.php . You may also need to reserve the appropriate technical staff to set up equipment on the date of the screening. It is important that your venue have a suitable audio and video system to present the film. The music in the film plays a special part in the storytelling, so good speakers and proper sound level can make a big difference in how the film is received by the audience. When choosing a venue, it is VERY important to check room light levels for the appropriate time of day to make sure the room will be sufficiently dark for your film screening. We also advise that you test the film on DVD in the venue you expect to use for your event A COUPLE WEEKS prior to your event-- that way we can send a replacement if necessary.
- PUBLICITY: Share news about the film far and wide! Smart publicity is essential for making the most of your screening opportunity.
- Share the film trailer: Our trailer is a quick, fun, upbeat overview of the project - and one of the very best ways to advertise the film and get people excited to see it. Post or embed it widely on blogs, Facebook pages, campus websites, and anyplace else you can imagine. Here is a link to the trailer on YouTube: http://youtu.be/xb1ohS8buws . The trailer is also available on the front page of http://YERT.com .
- Create a couple of text “blurbs” to share: We have a couple of versions of the film synopsis, reviews, awards, pictures, logos, posters, screen shots, and related information about the film at our presskit: http://yert.com/presskit.php . Feel free to copy and use anything you see on that page. Once you have a brief description of the event, highlighting the sponsors, title, and short synopsis of the film, you can easily share that information in a variety of formats (many noted below).
- Give academic extra credit: On campuses, one of the most powerful ways of bringing audiences to the YERT film is, frankly, bribery. We have seen audiences increase 10x when professors or academic program managers give a small amount of extra credit to students who attend the screening. A full house makes it more fun to watch the film (laughter is more contagious when people sit closer together), and also expands the reach of the messages in the film to students who might not otherwise be interested in environmental topics. Extra credit is ultimately one of the most potent ways to broaden more minds faster, and you can extend the impact by incorporating the film content into course curriculum before and after the screening.
- Offer free food and/or stuff: You’d be surprised by what people will do for a little free food, and you can often get it donated. If you do offer food, BE SURE to advertise it in your publicity materials. Screening hosts also occasionally raffle prizes donated to the event at the end of the screening. Just be sure to keep your food and prizes as eco-friendly as possible. The last thing the planet needs is more plastic junk floating in the oceans...
- Word of mouth: We consistently find that people attend the YERT film when a personal friend encourages them to see it. The more personal the outreach, the more success you’ll have getting people to fill the seats. In-person contact is better than a phone call which is better than a personal e-mail which is better than a mass e-mail which is better than a tweet or a Facebook wall posting. Facebook event invitations may or may not be successful depending on how you promote them. A regular drumbeat of tweets and Facebook postings that are consistently re-tweeted by a dedicated core of fans and friends can work wonders in raising awareness.
- Social networks: Create a Facebook event (or Meetup, or both!) and invite all of your friends, and all of the members of any other relevant Facebook organizations that you manage, or know somebody who manages. Once people see a critical mass of attendance at a Facebook event, they tend to show up more than if they see no attendees signed up, so get out there and recruit attendees to that Facebook page! You can also create Facebook ads to target the friends of current attendees, expanding the reach of the event to circles of friends and colleagues who are most likely to attend. We cannot fund your advertising campaign, but you’ll find that even $20 can produce some significant additional awareness about your event. Since you only pay per click-through, you can get a lot of visibility for a relatively low cost. Create a drumbeat of tweets and Facebook postings leading up to the event. Tell us about it and we’ll promote it, too!
- E-mail: E-mail can be a powerful tool for reaching out to friends, family, classmates, colleagues, and community members. Pull blurbs from our press kit (http://yert.com/presskit.php) and integrate them freely into your e-mail, changing them as you find appropriate. There are often e-mail lists of students studying particular majors-- find one of those students and recruit them to e-mail their whole group with a blurb that you pre-write for them. Be sure to send a couple of reminders a few weeks out, and also in the final days and hours leading up to the event so that people don’t forget about it.
- Posters and Postcards: You can download posters from our website, then feel free to modify them to include screening date/time/location information, and maybe highlight any sponsors for the event. You get some postcards with your screening license purchase, but you can request more if you believe that you’ll definitely use them. The postcards have a space where you can place a sticker with all of your specific screening information. Put up posters all over town and/or campus. There are often restaurants, cafes, and stores that would be happy to put up your poster in their window-- just look for the shops that already have posters in their windows, then go in and ask the owner or staff member if you can put up a poster in their window. They’ll generally say yes, though some want to put up the posters themselves. Always offer to put it up yourself whenever possible. Then you know it is up. If there is a spot to leave postcards next to the poster, that helps, too.
- Enlist professors, teachers, and community leaders: Encourage them to screen YERT short films (http://yert.com/videos.php) in their classrooms and on their Facebook pages. You can also build a simple Powerpoint slide or PDF to advertise the event (just put the film poster on the left of the slide, and screening details on the right) and share it with professors to drop into their lecture slides. Some professors will even let you put up an announcement (date/time/event) on their class chalkboard or whiteboard and/or make a quick announcement in person to their class. They might even let you screen the YERT trailer for the class-- a great recruiting tool!
- TV, Radio, Press, and Bloggers: We are happy to give interviews anytime for any media outlet, large or small. Please feel free to set up as many press opportunities as possible prior to the screening, early enough that the article or story can run during the week prior to the screening. Even if a special interview doesn’t take place, the media can be a powerful way to get the message out to your audience. Consider the news cycle for various print and online event calendars and news outlets that reach your audience members. If you have friends (or can make friends) at a campus or local radio station, encourage them to plug your event on their show(s). The same applies for local TV shows.
- Post on all relevant calendars: Campus events calendar. Community events calendar. Local newspaper calendars. Local websites. YERT calendar. Try to be sure that the event is highlighted on the front page of the organization or university’s website for at least a week prior to the event. Campus postering is an art that somebody on campus will know all about. Find one of those people and ask them where the best postering places are. The inside of bathroom stalls can be particularly effective because you have a captive audience!
- Dovetail the screening with existing green events: The YERT film is a great way to add some excitement to events you may already have planned around things like Earth Day/Week, Recyclemania, or just general campus awareness campaigns. Incorporating a YERT film screening (whether as a centerpiece or an extra piece) into one or more other sustainability initiatives can be a great way to share publicity resources and build buzz for your event. We’ve seen particularly strong turnout at YERT screenings when they are designed to launch or conclude a larger sustainability event for a campus or community.
- Encourage exploration of the YERT website: Our website (www.YERT.com) has all kinds of engaging free content to whet people’s appetite for a screening: 50+ short films (http://YERT.com/videos.php?post_id=xb1ohS8buws), more than 100 blog posts from our adventures, hundreds of photos, and more. Please feel free to embed, post, e-mail, and even publicly screen any of the short films that you find on our website.
- FILMMAKER VISIT DETAILS (live in-person or videochat): Having live filmmaker interaction as part of your screening is a fantastic way to raise the visibility of the event and make it a must-see experience. Both Ben Evans (Director) and Mark Dixon (Producer) are available for in-person visits and/or videochat sessions. Both filmmakers can give custom presentations, visit classrooms, and (most often) facilitate Q&A sessions after film screenings. We do request an honorarium + travel expenses for such events, but we are happy to travel for YERT events and do so often - we’ve engaged enthusiastic live audiences everywhere from colleges like YALE to companies like Apple, from high school students in Kansas to film school students Russia, from organizations like the Sierra Club to events like TEDx. To arrange for a live appearance or a videochat, simply contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred dates and type of event you envision, and we’ll quickly respond with our availability, requested honorarium, and possibly some additional dates for consideration. Please make our day and invite us to your event! We love to meet our audiences in person.
The timing and planning elements below are just conservative suggestions, not requirements. Events have been successfully planned under many different circumstances with as little as 10 days of lead time (and sometimes even less!).
- Three months before event (or as soon as it makes sense)
- Recruit organizational partners and sponsors.
- Assemble funding (prices listed at http://yert.com/screenings.php . Call us for in-person visits and video chat pricing. We’d love to see you in person-- we just need to work with you to identify a mutually agreeable event date.)
- Finalize the date, time, and venue for the event (it’s often good to double check local event calendars to make sure that, if possible, the event doesn’t overlap with too many major sporting events, festivals, and other potential conflicts).
- Purchase the YERT screening license at http://yert.com/screenings.php.
- Add event to all relevant online calendars.
- Put the event on the YERT calendar (submit at http://yert.com/screenings.php)
- Begin to build press/media/blogger awareness of the event. Learn the dates by which they need to have vital information from you in order to release a story/article/announcement in time for the screening.
- Create a couple of different text blurbs that people can easily cut/paste into e-mails, blog postings, and social media networks. Feel free to copy text from our presskit.
- Create a Facebook (and/or Meetup.org) event for the screening. Start inviting everybody you know and encourage them to do the same. Post to relevant Facebook groups, fan pages, and friends’ pages. Where appropriate, ask your friends to do the same.
- Reach out to student and/or community groups to enlist them in outreach efforts.
- Reach out to press/media/bloggers to set up interviews and plant stories and announcements in media outlets.
- Start to put up posters/postcards for the event.
- Continue to reach out to new groups and individuals who can help you get the word out.
- Check with press/media/bloggers to make sure they’re going to post something about the event during the next couple of weeks.
- Continue to put up posters/postcards for the event.
- Send e-mail announcement to friends/family/students/faculty. Ask them to send the announcement out to people they know, too.
- Keep posting about the event on Facebook and Twitter.
- If it’s a college screening, send a Powerpoint slide announcing the event to professors, and ask them to share it with students.
- If it’s a college screening, visit classrooms and make announcements to students about the event.
- Keep posting about the event on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to post any YERT short films on our YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/YERTians ).
- Day of event before event
- Final posting about the event on Facebook/Twitter/e-mail.
- Download and print out a couple copies of our mailing list sign-up sheet. Gather a few pens and some clip-boards or other writing surface that you can pass around the audience.
- Visit the venue and set up - check sound levels and projector settings to make sure they’re at their best. Check room light levels to make sure they’re sufficiently dark for a screening. Don’t forget to bring your DVD for the screening.
- Put up posters at the venue (and posters pointing TO the venue) so people know about, can find, and get excited by the screening. You might attract a few extra people, too! You can download and print posters from our online presskit.
- Place a copy of the mailing list sign-up sheet at a table by the door where you enter the screening space. Put a pen there, too.
- Wait five to ten minutes after the official start time before you start screening, to let stragglers get seated.
- You may want to give sponsors or other people time to make announcements about upcoming events, activities, groups they can join, etc.
- Encourage audience members to check out our website at YERT.com for free access to lots of additional content. At YERT.com they can also purchase a YERT film screening, DVD, or watch it online via pay-per-view. We also appreciate it when audience members “like” us on our Facebook page, and sign up for our e-mailing list (at YERT.com).
- Also encourage people to sign up on the mailing list. Let them know you’ll pass it around at the end of the screening, too.
- Start the film when it feels right!
- Post-film digestion and discussion
- As soon as the film is done, thank the audience for attending (the YERT team sends its thanks, too!). Let them know you’ll be sending around mailing list sign-up sheets so that they can get more information and keep up to date on YERT news as it happens. Then pass around two copies of the sign up sheets. Collect them after everybody leaves and make a scan of the sheets, noting the event date and location. E-mail the scanned copies to us at email@example.com and we’ll sign them up to our mailing list. Alternatively you can pop them in the mail to us at “YERT - Mailing Lists, 327 Denniston Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206”.
- Engage your audience with a post-screening discussion with the filmmakers, local thought-leaders, citizen leaders, or other mediators. Films like YERT are most impactful when there is space for the audience to digest, share, and cross-pollinate about what they’ve just experienced and turn that into action. This is a great opportunity for people to collectively generate ideas for how to move forward in their community.
- For ideas on good post-screening discussion questions, check out our YERT Film Discussion Guide.
- Help keep the momentum and outreach going by posting comments, thoughts, and ideas to the YERT Facebook Page or to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love getting feedback and are delighted to answer additional discussions from audience members online.
- Encourage audience members (one last time) to check out our website at YERT.com for free access to lots of additional content. At YERT.com they can also purchase a YERT film screening, DVD, or watch it online via pay-per-view. We also appreciate it when audience members “like” us on our Facebook page, and sign up for our e-mailing list (at YERT.com).
- Take a picture of the audience (waving or smiling or something fun) and e-mail it to us at email@example.com . We’ll re-post it on our blog and Facebook page to share the excitement.
Most of all, have fun and enjoy the film!
This screening guide is brought to you by the filmmakers at “YERT - Your Environmental Road Trip.” Please feel free to share/use this Screening Guide per the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.