So, you put in months and months of hard work crafting the perfect independent/no-budget movie and it is time to showcase your work. There are lots and lots of avenues for you to go, but there is nothing like seeing your movie on the big screen. And if your work is good enough, there is no better way to get the word out about your movie than hosting a successful screening.
One thing that people might not know about having a successful screening to add hype to your movie is just how important it is to use your crowd to your advantage. You’ll need to pick up/rent velvet rope and barricades to do this right. Most movie theaters allow people to rent out theaters for personal screenings. Make sure in your deal with the theater that they will let you do it right, with a red carpet, lines, and the works. If this is a small movie on a low budget, there is no reason to waste money on a 400 person auditorium, a smaller theater will be easier to fill and still do the ob of getting the movie on the screen.
First off invite the cast and crew, so right off the bat you have some audience members that are partial to the movie. Let them invite friends and family. Invite local bloggers (I know how much we love being invited to screenings and Q&As, trust me, they will come and talk about your movie). Also take a chance and invite bigger press, in NY? Try the Times and the Post. They likely will not come, but hey, you never know. Have a contact at a radio station or with a podcast? Give them a certain amount of free tickets to give away. Their hype will go a long way.
Now that you have everyone invited. Make sure you have the manpower to make the screening seem a lot bigger than it is. Have lines for general audience, press and VIPs. Don’t let anyone in right away, let the crowd gather and form. Make sure that people passing on the street or in the theater wonder and ask what is going on. “What movie is this?” “Who is in it?” One perfectly planned screening can cause your movie’s hype to snowball into something a lot bigger than you ever imagined.