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How To notes on producing a 1 week long run of a feature, with info. on gear & costs.

the venue ready to go
DVD player, with 2 RCA to XLR cables for audio playback/the speakers
audio cables from the DVD player plugged into the sound board

For many low-budget DIY filmmakers, working with distribution companies, regular (up & running on a regular basis) movie theaters, and even working with festivals for screenings is not always/some times hardly ever, an option. Thus, it is a good idea to know how to produce a week long run of your feature at an alternative venue, and about some of the gear that you will need to use, and the costs of things.

First, theatrical exhibition (or theatrical type exhibition, since in this case we did not use an actual movie theater) will most likely lose you money, even if each screening is sold out. Why? Because in order to get each screening to sell out a lot of work needs to be done (hours = $s), even if by volunteers, plus most likely you will have to advertise, that along with dozens of other minor costs that can add up, will make the project a not-profitable thing. However, the press & publicity/awareness that can be generated from the theatrical or long runs of a movie can be very useful for DVD sales & other non-theatrical sales of the movie, so, in my opinion, theatrical exhibition is worth pursuing. Now that that warning is out of the way, let's take a look at all that took to produce a week long run of a DIY feature; the Date Number One 7/12 - 18 run in Kensington, MD.
Cost: Total money spent on the 7-day long event was close to $1800.

The details re: the event: Screening a 2 hour long movie on a 10'x10' screen in an auditorium that can accommodate over 200 people per show. One screening per day for seven consecutive days.

How the money was spent:

1 - Venue rental. Many discounts came into effect for this rental, thus the cost was low. The venue is not typically used in July by other clients, plus a part of the proceeds from the event went to charity, plus the film was made in the town that has the venue - these factors resulted in a lower than usual rental price for the use of the venue.

2 - Advertising - a 1/5 page ad in a local alternative weekly. Money was also spent on duplicating posters & fliers. With various discounts the cost was $408 for the ad.

3 - Equipment rental - the 10'x10' screen had to be rented. With a discount for renting the screen for 7 days straight, the cost was $355. Other gear - projector, speakers, etc. came with the venue.

Gear used for the event:

1 - Projection: the video projector used is the small type that is used for business meetings. Such projectors, used, can be purchased for under $500 in the DC area, or can be rented for about $150 or so a day (can get discounts for a week long rental, usually).

2- Screen - a rented 10' x 10' screen.

3 - Audio - two large speakers (each about 3 feet tall), powered by the sound board/amp unit. The speakers were connected to the sound board using XLR cables, and then two XLR-to-RCA cables connected the sound board to the DVD player.

4 - Playback - the film was played back from a DVD, using a $40 DVD player from Radio Shack. There were no playback problems, the film played back perfectly each night.

Other production notes:

- There were about 2 - 3 people on the production team for each night's screening: the director/screening event producer, a ticket sales person, a door person to collect the tickets.


This was the first week long run that I produced at an alternative venue (the venue used does not normally show movies, theater groups stage plays there). Overall, I found it to be less expensive than renting a movie theater, & the event came off without any problems from the building or the gear used. I will definitely be repeating such presentations in the future.

What I would do differently at the next 1 week run:
Lots & lots more advertising/publicity work.

- Sujewa


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