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Your Event Part 4: Day of the Screening
The Day of The Event
When it all comes together
The quality of the audience experience will be greatly enhanced by a smoothly run screening with minimal technical difficulties or interruptions. We recommend having a tech rehearsal 2-3 days before the event if possible, with a final tech check at least 2-3 hours in advance of the screening. This will allow enough time to correct any unforeseen problems, and give all involved a sense of confidence going into the screening.
If you are working with an in-house projectionist or tech person, it is important to arrange to meet with them at the venue to do a test run of the DVD projection in advance. This is routinely done for screening events and allows all kinds of potential problems to be avoided, as well as establishing a working relationship with the person who will be running the equipment for the event. During the test run, you can check to make sure that the picture is the right aspect ratio (neither squashed-looking or stretched tall -- 4:3 is the correct ratio if a projectionist asks). You should also make sure that the sound reproduction is loud enough and not distorted. This can also be an opportunity to work out how you will signal the projectionist to start the film, and to make sure they know to leave the house lights down until the credits have all run, as this allows the audience a little time to transition out of the powerful viewing experience.
If you are working with your own tech person/projectionist, it is equally important to set up the projection and sound equipment early enough to have ample time for testing and resolve any issues that come up, such as getting a missing cable or figuring out how to use a remote. Keep in mind that a full house will alter the acoustics so you may need to adjust the volume early in the screening. Quality audio has a major impact on the viewing experience. Time spent getting this and other details right really makes a difference for the audience.
Depending on the size of the venue, you may need a microphone for the introduction and post-film discussion. Be sure to test the sound on the mic ahead of time as well. In general, use of a microphone can make a big difference during the post-screening discussion, as not being able to hear what is being said is a common complaint when there is no amplification of the speaker's voice. Amplification can also help those who have less public speaking experience feel a little more confident, as it takes away the issue of being hesitant to speak in what seems to be in an unnaturally loud voice.
Prepare the Space
Be there at least an hour ahead of time. Set up chairs if needed and make sure everything is in order. Have an area with tables set up ready for refreshments if you will be providing them. We recommend that the food and beverages be served after the discussion.
Welcome Your Audience
Start the screening no later than 10 minutes after the advertised start time.
Your opening remarks are your opportunity to offer the audience your respect and your thanks, and to express gratitude for all the volunteers and the groups who made the event possible.
Setting a friendly, welcoming tone is one of the most helpful things you can do to make people feel comfortable. To introduce the film, we suggest you read the message from the filmmakers below, or if you are showing Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, you can play their introductory message on the DVD. Then let the audience know there will be a brief discussion after the film and mention the refreshments, if you will be having them.
|A message from James LaVeck and Jenny Stein, Producer and Director
“Through the making of our films, we have seen that one person's change of heart can indeed change the world. And it is stories about ordinary people discovering and enacting their deepest values that inspire us both as concerned citizens and as artists. We believe that the telling and re-telling of such stories is vital to our democracy and essential to maintaining our dignity as human beings. We are honored to have this chance to share our work with you, and walk for a moment side by side on the journey toward a more peaceful and compassionate world.
"We would like to offer our deepest thanks to each person who has helped make this event possible, including each member of the audience here today. The issues explored in this film are complex, and no one person has all the answers. It is only by coming together as a community and engaging in positive dialogue that we can we begin to find positive solutions.”
One final note: Many people wonder if mention should be made ahead of time about the imagery depicting injustices being done to animals. Tribe of Heart films have been screened before hundreds of audiences without any special mention of this issue. Remember that our work is carefully designed and meticulously tested to help audiences through the experience of taking in the reality of what happens to animals, and most importantly, to do so in a way that is ultimately inspiring. In fact, audience members often express their appreciation for the sensitive handling of the subject matter of the films.
During the Film
People may laugh and cry during different scenes. Generally, the larger the group, and the darker the room, the more people will feel free to express their emotions. Depending on the group and the setting, people may also choose not to express their emotions outwardly, though post-screening surveys show that regardless of the group’s collective behavior, as individuals, people are experiencing the film very deeply.
Occasionally an audience member will leave the room during some of the more intense scenes. For some, the viewing experience creates a new awareness that may leave them feeling temporarily overwhelmed. Many times, these same people will return to the film after taking a short break. Remember that feeling and expressing strong emotions in response to suffering and injustice is a natural part of the awakening process, and a sign of being a caring, emotionally connected person. There is no right or wrong reaction, and it is important not to make assumptions about anyone's reactions based on outward appearances. One person may tend to be very expressive of their joy or sadness, and another may be going through an even larger reaction inwardly, but show little outwardly.
When the Film Ends
Wait until the film credits have ended before stopping the film and turning on the lights. This gives people a few moments of transition. Most people need to sit quietly and process what they have just seen. If there is a dimmer option on the lights, keep them relatively soft so as not to 'bump' people out of their thoughts. Remember that watching a Tribe of Heart film is a powerful experience, one that has taken the audience on a deep journey. Many people feel shaken up and a little vulnerable afterwards, as well as feel inspired.
It often takes a few moments before people feel ready to speak. During these moments you may acknowledge that the group experience has created a strong sense of community.
Comment Cards and Surveys
Let the audience know that you will now be having a discussion of the film, and that volunteers will be passing out cards and pencils so they can write down their questions and comments. Ask them to raise their hands when they are finished so volunteers can collect their cards.
Comment cards will tell you more about the effect the screening has had than any other thing you can do. This method allows you to hear from every person and also gives those who are too shy to talk a chance to be heard. The feedback on comment cards is also critical to Tribe of Heart's ability to shape our outreach program and develop even better materials and methods for those who hold screenings.
An alternative to the comment cards are audience survey forms. The surveys provide a more detailed record of the audience response, and are particularly useful when the audience for a screening can be identified by some sort of common characteristic, such as high school or college students, members of a certain faith-based group, a women's group, a peace group, employees of a certain company, legislators, etc. Survey feedback collected from such groups has played a key role in Tribe of Heart's outreach work and continues to be extremely useful. If you have questions about which form of feedback would be best for your particular event, contact us.
Comment cards are included for free with orders of the Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home Screening Handout. You can also download blank comment cards and surveys to be printed here for Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home and here for The Witness
Once comment cards start coming back, have the volunteers bring them up front so you can quickly look through them and share comments/questions anonymously with the audience. This is a great ice-breaker. You don't even need to respond to all the questions/comments. It can be reassuring to the audience just to get a feel for what other people are thinking about. Regardless, the comment cards provide a good launch point for your discussion and also set the stage for discussions audience members may have amongst themselves afterwards.
The DVD for Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home has a post-film segment with the filmmakers that addresses many of the common questions that come up at screenings of the film. This segment can be shown in part, in full, or not at all. It can be used as a prelude to a live discussion, or, if need be, can be used in place of a live discussion, setting the stage for informal discussion between audience members after the screening event if there is no one comfortable moderating a live discussion. It is also very helpful for situations where the time available for a post-screening discussion is limited. Conducting a post-screening discussion can be a very positive experience, and we encourage you to do so. Either way, it's important to be prepared for the kinds of questions your audience is likely to have. Watching the post-film segment ahead of time will help you, as will reading Tribe of Heart's discussion guide, which offers detailed ideas and suggestions for how to make the most of your post-film discussion.
It's always a good idea to have some brief notes prepared to start the discussion. More than any specific information you share, what will help people the most at this time is to treat them with respect and kindness. Some people will want to comment. Some will have questions for you. Repeat the questions for the entire audience before you answer.
Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly how to answer a question. The ethics of the human-animal relationship are complex and the implications and details of how our society exploits animals are vast. No one of us has all the answers, but each of us can bring an important piece of the solution. When in doubt, you can always use the screening handout to refer people to the Peaceable Journey guide on Tribe of Heart's web site, an excellent vehicle for learning more about the issues explored in the films and getting involved in working for change.
Try to keep the attention of the group as a whole. If someone seems upset, it can be helpful to acknowledge that these are challenging issues that upset many people. Explain that the goal of the film is to raise the issues and stimulate positive dialogue, and that it is up to each of us to draw our own conclusions.
If someone begins a subject that seems off-topic, ask them to see you afterwards for further discussion.
Don’t let the discussion drag. Generally, 3045 minutes is the maximum time, but be sensitive to the energy in the room. If there are few questions, segue to the concluding remarks. If the group energy stays up and engaged, don't cut the discussion short, either. Let people know you and other event organizers will be available to talk one-on-one afterwards to answer any remaining questions.
Concluding Remarks: Taking the Peaceable Journey
Many people will want to know how to learn more, or what they can do to do to help. If you haven't done so already, now is the time to distribute the Tribe of Heart screening handout, which refers the audience to the Peaceable Journey guide on our web site, where there are extensive resources for learning more and for taking action.
Let your audience know how they can order Tribe of Heart films, and briefly review some of the options listed in the Peaceable Journey section of the Screening Handout. Encourage them to see this experience as the beginning of a journey of discovery, and an opportunity to connect with other people and other animals in a positive way.
Thank everyone for coming, and invite them to stay for refreshments.
After the Screening
Contact us and let us know how your event went, what you learned, and any suggestions you may have for others planning to hold similar events. What you share will be of great value to our community, helping us continue to shape and refine our guidelines so that others will have successful events. Send thank you notes to everyone on your core team and others who helped make the screening possible. And don't forget to give yourself credit for doing something positive that has the potential to change so many lives for the better.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU DID IT!
All of us on the Tribe of Heart team want to thank you for putting your caring into action. Working together, we can and we will change the world!
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