Planning a movie screening Event

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

This checklist will lay out the complete process for hosting a movie screening event.

  • We suggest giving yourself about 8 weeks to plan the event.

  • It can help to get a small team together to help with publicity, catering and technical support.

  • Pick out the film for your event.  Check out the resources page for recommendations.

  • Find the right space to screen your film:

    • Screenings can be held anywhere where there is a digital projector and speakers. The best-case scenario is a cinema but other good options include a theatre, rec room, church/school/community hall, community center, lecture hall, boardroom, your local pub or an outdoor screening.

    • If you are raising money for charity, try to get a good deal from the venue. They may even give you the place for free.

  • Set up an online ticketing system – this takes all the hassle out of selling tickets (or registering attendees, even if your event is free). A few suggestions are:

  • Develop your invite text (see our Publicity Tips and Examples document).


  • Start publicizing your event as soon as possible:

    • Email friends, family and colleagues and ask them to forward the invite through their networks.

    • Phone/email targeted organizations and interest groups and ask them to forward the invite to their mailing list.

    • If you are raising money for a particular charity they may be able to advertise the event also.

    • Set up a Facebook event and invite friends, colleagues
      and supporters.

    • Tweet (using a custom hashtag #moviename)

    • Distribute marketing materials: put up posters labeled with your event details and place postcards in strategic areas.

    • Write a one-page press release and let your local newspaper and radio station know. Pick up the phone to follow up.

  • It can sometimes be helpful to offer complimentary tickets to a couple of key people/VIPs. The ticketing systems above allow the use of promotional codes for this purpose.

  • Send reminder emails / tweets / Facebook posts throughout the lead-up period.

Technical Stuff

Do a vision and sound check as soon as possible. This is crucial!

  • Things to check for vision:
    • Get access to a good projector.
    • Check that the room you are screening in is dark.
    • Check that the screen is big enough for the audience size. The bigger the audience the bigger the screen needs to be.
    • Check that the ‘aspect ratio’ is correct and that the image does not look squashed or stretched.
    • Check on the seating arrangements. If the venue has raised seating that is great. If your chairs are level make sure that the people at the back can see overhead. You might need to raise the height of the screen to make this work. Make sure you sit in different seats in the audience.
  • Things to check for sound:
    • Play the film at various scenes (beginning, middle and end). Can you understand the words and hear the music? Is the sound clear and constant? Check different areas of the room to work out the best volume levels.

The tech checks should not be complicated to do, but it may be that you are not comfortable with the technology aspect, in which case it would be worthwhile seeking someone who can assist you.


If you decide to provide catering there are two options. The more costly (but easier) option is to hire caterers, or you may choose to organize catering yourself. If you decide to use professional caterers, we recommend asking whether you can get a discounted rate for a charity event.

If organizing your own catering the following tips may be helpful:

  • Plan food that can largely be prepared beforehand
  • Talk with the venue about whether they can provide tables and tablecloths, or organize these if necessary.
  • Pre-pack all the items that will be needed: e.g., plates, napkins, cutlery, tongs and gloves for food handling, sharp knives for preparation, glad-wrap and containers to pack up leftover food, etc ...

Also for consideration is the question of whether drinks will be provided. Some venues will give you discounted cinema hire if a certain number of people are attending and are likely to purchase drinks from their bar, so this can sometimes be a negotiating point. Various options for drinks provision include:

  • A paid bar where attendees can purchase drinks
  • Running a limited bar tab (eg, providing one complimentary drink, with a paid bar after that)
  • Catering for drinks yourself (in which case you may need to apply for a liquor licence)
  • BYO
  • In any case, don’t forget to have water available

If you aren’t catering you might want to let people know in the invite information. You may also wish to let people know the food and drink arrangements ahead of time.


8 Weeks Before the Event

  • Buy/procure a Movie Screening Kit
  • Get your team together
  • Set time and date for event
  • Work out your budget to estimate costings and set ticket prices
  • Book venue
  • Compile invitation list and brainstorm re organizations to contact
  • Are you providing catering? If so, book a caterer or delegate catering to part of the organising team
  • Are you providing alcohol? If so, apply for a liquor license (see above for details).
  • Do you intend to have a Q&A? If so, book in the panel and MC

6 Weeks Before the Event

  • Develop your invite text (see Publicity Tips and Examples document for ideas)
  • Design marketing materials
  • Set up online ticketing system
  • Send out invites to your list and ask them to forward through their networks
  • Set up Facebook event with ticketing link
  • Start tweeting and sharing

5 Weeks Before the Event

  • Contact targeted organizations and ask them to share your event

4 Weeks Before the Event

  • Visit venue and do tech check (see checklist above).  Inquire about having 1-2 roving audience microphones if you intent to have a panel discussion and Q&A.
  • Secure tables for tickets, DVD sales and catering if needed
  • Continue to share on Facebook and Twitter and with partner organizations

3 Weeks before the Event

  • Distribute posters/postcards with your event details
  • Write and send out Press Release to local media
  • Email your invitation list to remind them of the event and ask them to forward through their networks

2 Weeks before the event

  • Follow up with local media
  • Is your screening for a school event, or are you hoping the event will prompt discussion? Usestudy guides to plan your lesson, or a Discussion Starter Kit to get ideas.
  • Are you fundraising for a particular charity? If so, you might like to obtain some tax deductible donation forms that can be used on the night for extra donations.

1 Week before the event

  • Do another tech check – recheck sound and vision
  • Send out an email and Facebook reminder of event
  • Complete a ‘running sheet’ for the day of the event and allocate volunteers to various roles
  • Liaise with the Q&A MC and panel where relevant
  • Prepare any notes for a welcome/introduction for attendees, and wrap up at the end of the night
  • Print signage and other materials: e.g., general signage; signs for the ticket sale desk and DVD sales desk; reserved signs for seating if needed; donation forms for charity
  • Organize necessary equipment – eg, a receipt book and kitty with change for last minute ticket sales/DVD sales; a box for any donation forms completed...

1 Day Before

  • Resend general email and Facebook reminder of the event
  • Circulate the running sheet to volunteers so everyone is aware of the tasks to be completed
  • Download and print an alphabetical list of attendees from your online ticketing system in case of lost/forgotten tickets
  • Send an email with event details to attendees with any final details

Day of Screening

  • Final tech checks
  • Tasks as per running sheet

Post event

  • Thank your event team
  • Send a thank you email to the audience, and let everyone know how much you raised and the outcomes of the screening
  • Please also let us know how the event went (we’d love to hear and share your success as an inspiration to others)