Re: How-to for film series -Reply

Anne Roney (
Mon, 21 Jul 1997 16:53:00 -0500

What a lot of positive creative ideas! Made me want to start a film
society myself just from reading this. Shall print this out and tuck
it away for future reference.

Anne Roney,
Video Librarian,
London Public Library, London Ont. Canada
Dear Susan,

There is very little written information on how to run a film society
days -- though the organization AIVF might have some. Their phone
number in
New York is (212) 473-3400, I belive. If that's wrong, email me back
they've just moved.

Having run a film society in Ohio for a few years in the 80s and now
on the
other end in distribution (for now more then 10 years), the advice I
have is:

a) be nice to the distributors, be honest about your budget, and get
deals than the list price in their (our) catalogs. For new societies
struggling ones, we and many of the other distributors try to do our
best to
make sure they thrive.

b) Make the series fun. Have speakers from the college whenever
possible who
can introduce the films and answer questions later. Entertaining
such as my favorite -- "The Worst Films of All Time" festival where
it's free
to get in but increasingly more expensive to be allowed to leave --
or a
poster give-away at each show (order an extra from the distributor or
poster service).

c) Make sure you give the audiences a reason to come for those
screenings instead of waiting for the film on television or video.
That can
be the speaker, or the experience of seeing it on screen, or "be the
first on
your block,"
or the anniversary of an event or the filmmaker to make it a

d) Have lunch with the local newpaper editors at least once a month
and get
them on your side. Many of them need a reason why people would be
in your series and few understand how important it is for the
First is to get your films reviewed (some of us can supply video
screeners to
the press before your showing) by a good writer, second is to get
more space
or better placed space, and lastly, if the papers have color, to have
nicely colored bar around the review. Anything to attract the
attention of
the reader. Not only did I have lunch with the editor in Athens, Ohio
month, but I made sure to play basketball with him every Sunday
morning and
especially made sure he looked good.

Anyway, I ramble! There are many people I can put you in touch with
who run
successful series at libraries, universities and museums in small
around the country and have done so for many years despite public
indifference at times and shrinking budgets. They're very nice people
be more than willing to talk.

Lastly, of course, you can always call us about setting up a film
the list of distributors you'd need to talk to, and to help find
films that
you're looking for.

Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video
275 West 96th Street, Suite 28C
New York, NY 10025
phone: (212) 865-7449
fax: (212) 222-8952

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory."
-- Friedrich Engels, 1803-1882