What is required to start and run a film society that stages periodic, open-to-the-public screenings of classic, obscure and indie films in one's own town?
I'm a film geek in a town (Santa Barbara, California), that doesn't really meets a film geek's needs. Sure, there are occasional college screenings and a yearly film festival, but most of what's theatrically available here is ultra-mainstream. There's a "Santa Barbara Cinema Society", but it's secretive, pricey and members-only.
Thus, I've been seriously considering being the change I wish to see and founding a local film forum operating on the model of nonprofit film organizations like I've seen in action in major cities: monthlyish screenings of classic, obscure, local and indie films open to both members who have pre-paid for the "season" and the general public on a first-come-first-serve basis as well. Nothing too fancy.
What I'd like to know from any MeFi denizens with even a shred of experience in this arena is as follows: what steps should I take to get this train moving out of the station? Here are the things I know so far that I'll need, but any gaps in my knowledge that people can fill in would be much appreciated:
- A venue. The options I can see here are (a) rent an existing, equipped screening room (perhaps one in a regular several-plex sort of theater, if they rent them out, although the local museum also happens to have one) or (b) rent the necessary gear to hold the screenings in an unequipped room, such as a public library could provide. I'm not sure which of these would be preferable in the long run.
- Films. Selecting movies to screen isn't a problem so much as finding firms that rent out prints. I don't quite understand why they're so difficult to locate online. Would anyone happen to know an approximate average cost for a 35mm print rental of a film that's not new, not mainstream or both? And where would be a good source of information on the applicable rights issues?
- Money. How are these sorts of outfits funded? Tickets sold, certainly, and also memberships, but what about sponsorships? Are those generally doable?
- Publicity. This is the least hard of the bunch, from what I can see; I'm already pretty heavily involved with a few sectors of the local media. But is there any form of publicity that people starting a film series don't normally think about that they should?
And here's a larger question: is there a smaller-scale way to get a film forum like this off the ground that I'm not seeing? Maybe screening movies on video for a while? (Rights issues there?) Maybe doing local films only for a while? I'm not quite sure how to scale the operation down so as to get it most manageably started.
Here are a few somewhat informative documents I've already unearthed:
But as you can see, none of it's terribly in-depth.