Screening Guide


How to Use this Screening Guide

Credits and Thanks

Planning Your Screening

Special Feature: Make Your Screening Media-Friendly


This guide is designed to assist you in planning screening events in neighborhoods, community groups, non-profits, schools, faith-based organizations and other venues to propel your audience to think critically and to take meaningful action.

Check out to find an array of films on issues of social and environmental justice that may fit with your interests and goals.


This guide was created by:
Working Films logo

Working Films leverages the power of storytelling through documentary film to advance struggles for social, economic, and environmental justice, human and civil rights.

Content contributed by:

Kristin Henry, khenry [at]
Senior Social Media Strategist

Molly Murphy, mmurphy [at]
Deputy Director

Creative Commons License
Community Screening Guide by Working Films is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. For non-commercial use, anyone can tailor this guide to an individual film campaign or other purpose with credit given to Working Films.


Here are some helpful hints for organizing a screening, from securing the location, to publicizing the event, planning a discussion afterwards, and involving your audience in meaningful action.

Get the DVD - Types of Screenings
If you already have a film in mind, be sure to visit the film page on ScreeningHQ to find out how to buy the DVD and check for additional resources like flyers and audience handouts.

Depending on what venue you use, you may need to secure screening rights. Here is a basic outline of permissions:

Register Your Event
If the film you are working with is featured on Working Films ScreeningHQ, register your event at Here you can also find publicity materials including template flyers and press releases you can customize with specific information about your event.

Assess Your Community and the Issues
What are the major messages in the film that connect to your community? Whos involved in the issue at hand and who has a stake? What is already happening to address the problem? Considering these questions will help you determine:

Set Goals
What do you want to accomplish with this screening? What are your goals for the event? Do you want to take action on an issue, build membership, build alliances, pressure decision makers, or fundraise? How can you help people do something meaningful, or point them toward the most relevant resources? Answering these questions at the beginning will help make every step of the way easier and more effective.

Make an Impact
Remember, a screening isnt just a chance to watch a great film, its an opportunity for the audience to get involved and do something! Consider one or two actions attendees can take to make a difference. Look to for suggestions on how your audience can take some next steps.

Choose a Location
Secure a venue for your screening that will be comfortable, have the right atmosphere, and provide the basics. This could be your living room, a community center, a place of worship, or even a park you decide.

If you need to reserve a space, try to contact the venue at least 2 months in advance and confirm your reservation within 2 weeks of the screening. Heres what youll need:

Share Tasks
Consider partnering with other individuals or organizations to make your event more dynamic, split the workload, and increase the number of attendees and diversity of the audience. Your partners can also extend the reach of your get-the-word-out efforts. Be sure to reach out to people directly affected by the issues.

In order to make planning easier, ensure the event is as successful as it can be, and have fun, we highly recommend that you delegate some tasks. These may include:

Get the Word Out
Below are a number of avenues you can use to leverage your networks and reach beyond your immediate circle:

SAMPLE AGENDA total time: 2 - 2 1/2 hours

This sample agenda should be utilized with the actions and resources in the second half of this guide.

> Start on time (no later than 10 minutes from posted time)

> Brief introduction to the film (5-10 minutes)
Introduce the film and make a brief introduction of any speakers or guests that you want to recognize. Make sure the audience knows that the film will be followed by discussion and action and encourage them to stick around after the credits roll. If the group is small enough, ask the audience to make very brief individual introductions. Tell them an ending time.

> Viewing of the film (factor in time here)

> Discussion (10 - 20 minutes)
This is a key part of the agenda. Folks will likely have strong emotions about what theyve seen and will want reflect on the film and find out what they can do to make a difference. Make sure that everyone who wants to has a chance to speak, but keep the conversation flowing. Use the sample discussion questions (see next page) as a reference, or write your own.

> Take Action & Wrap-Up (about 5 - 20 minutes)
Now, this is the most important part: invite your audience to get involved in the issues and your organization (if you represent one).

Document the Event
Take pictures and video your audiences reaction to the film. Ask attendees how they liked the event and what theyd like to see next. Did the film change their understanding, raise their awareness, or motivate them to take action? Pay attention to press representatives who attended and outlets that printed or aired stories. Save these!

Share photos, video, and press with your members, networks and importantly, on to show how the collective efforts around the film are making an impact. Your story may inspire others to replicate your efforts in their community.


We hope that this guide along with ScreeningHQ helps you to have a meaningful screening that makes an impact. Contact us if you have questions along the way:


Use the tips below to catch the medias attention for your event and cause.

Things Reporters Can't Resist

Reporters need a story. There are certain activities, language, and hooks that can grab their attention successfully. Make your pitch pop out of the stack of releases they receive each day. Here are some suggestions based on the book Stop Global Warming Now by journalist/author Bill McKibben:

What is new about the event? What are you planning to do about the issues the film raises that is the first, the best, the most recent, or the most creative? Highlight these aspects of your screening event.

Is this a case of strange bedfellows, or the happy odd couple? Are people who normally aren't found together coming together around your screening? Is you're your event inspiring people to reach out and build coalitions across lines that usually divide them? Use this angle to gain press attention.

Media and Social Media Timeline

As soon as possible:

Two weeks out:

One week out:

The day of: