make changeWe’re often asked by filmmakers, “What makes a good screening guide?” If you want to help hosts organize an intentional event with your film, a screening guide can be great tool for ensuring the planning process runs smoothly and easily.

Of course you will want to offer a synopsis of the film, brief character biographies, and some background on the issues so screening hosts can have that information on hand. Here are some tips that will help your guide be an invaluable resource.

  • Include the step-by-step process of planning and facilitating a screening. As people are becoming savvier about using media in their organizing efforts, a one-pager should suffice. Consider the different settings that people may be in: community screenings, house parties, church viewings, etc. We like how Made in L.A. lays out the steps online.
  • If your film is on a social issue, it will most likely spark a lively discussion. You will not need to offer a plethora of discussion questions. Consider starting with a couple questions about the film and then shifting to the issue, how it resonates locally, and what can be done.
  • Collaborate with a handful of allied organizations and other partners to develop the content. Collaboration should be integral to your entire campaign and certainly be reflected in the process you use to develop and distribute the resources that accompany your film. Your partner organizations can help you frame the goals of the guide, offer ways that audiences can get involved, and share handouts or other resources that can be easily printed for audience members. We couldn’t have made such a robust guide for the Ghosts of Abu Ghraib campaign if it wasn’t for the participation of our partners.

Whether you offer these as part of the guide, or in a section on your website it’s best to:

  • Offer branded badges that organizations can grab and use on their website, blog, or e-blast.

A well built guide will give screening hosts the tools to make an impact in their community. Leave a comment below to let us know if you have additional tips, or link to a screening guide that you think everyone should see because it includes all the right elements.

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