DIY Screenings & Distribution

Some call it “four-walling,” others DIY distribution. Filmmakers now have direct access to their audience like never before and are forgoing the middlemen who used to control the route to theatrical distribution. By and large, artists are now able to gauge their audience’s demand/interest for their work and market it directly to them. CinemaTech’s Scott Kirsner highlighted this movement in his recent book, Fans, Friends And Followers: Building An Audience And A Creative Career In The Digital Age.

Filmmakers are building databases of their fans’ e-mails and zip codes and are utilizing that data to book their film in local theaters – on their own. I believe that the directors of Four Eyed Monsters, Susan Buice and Arin Crumley were the first to use this approach for their 2005 film. They provide a great tutorial on their site titled, “Hearts and love-o-meters” (they used heart-shaped markers that grew with the number of requests for their screening).

Here are some tools and sites that can help you create maps, book theaters and screen your film:

Box Office Widget – provides a tool for you to collect email addresses of people who are interested in seeing your film and charts them geographically.


“How To Make A Screenings Map With Google” – Self Reliant Film’s Paul Harrill shows you how – well, the title of the post says it all.

Theatrical Mapping Project – The Workbook Project (http://workbookproject.com/) – among many things – is building a collaborative database of theatrical venues that can show digital work.

Brave New Theaters – Provides the ability to utilize a community around your film. Think, MySpace/Facebook fan page with a purpose: fans screen your film at home, small theater, community center, etc.

Eventful.com’s Demand service – empowers fans to influence where their favorite films appear by creating viral grass-roots campaigns to “demand” them in their town. Filmmakers are then able to use their service to make informed decisions about where to appear and can communicate with their fans via targeted email tools.

MobMov – a.k.a. Mobile Movie is reviving the great American drive-in. Powered by cars and video projectors, “mobmovs” are easy and affordable to set up. Check out their tutorial. If this interests you, check out Popular Mechanics – “How to Make Your Own Drive-In Movie Theater.”

How-To Notes On Producing A 1 Week Long Run Of A Feature, With Info. On Gear & Costs” – The quintessential “DIY Filmmaker” (who owns that moniker) – Sujewa Ekanayake – explains, in detail what it took to screen his film, Date Number One for a 7 day run in Kensington, MD.


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