Three things filmmakers should do when meeting with heir audience online

Yoram Schaffer
3 min readFeb 18, 2024

while avoiding the six mistakes

Conducting an online film screening to connect with fans through Q&A is a common practice among filmmakers.
Whether it’s a totally virtual event or a hybrid one (taking place in a venue and broadcast online in parallel), there are some mistakes which can be easily avoided.
Those mistakes are deeply rooted in misconceptions about online audiences and are reflected in things I hear again and again from filmmakers.

Avoid the six mistakes! See them below

Why

Why would filmmakers meet their audience online in the first place? Isn’t in-person screening the best way?
I believe yes, meeting people in-person is the best. And a screening in a true cinema venue yields better results, both image and sound wise. But it’s not always possible or practical.
For example:

  • if you made a crowdfunding campaign and want to thank your supporters, it would be hard to get everyone to one venue at the same time. Supporters could be from all corners of the world, so the best way is to meet them online.
  • when you have a screening and Q&A booked by an organization that can’t or doesn’t want you to flyover to them. You meet them online.
  • when you have a Q&A and screening for an organization whose members are themselves scattered in different places.

There are many more possible scenarios for a cinematic — virtual-or-a-hybrid-event, but you got the point.

Planning and lineup of online film screenings

Most filmmakers plan on having the screening on one platform and meeting with their audience on another platform.
For example — Vimeo for playback and Zoom for the meeting.
They also let the audience two or three days to watch the film (before the Q&A) and only then meet them.

Why is it so problematic?

  • watching the film on one occasion and then meeting the director some time later, means that your audience members need to actually plan TWO events, not one. Freeing two slots of one’s time is not trivial these days, for most people.
  • most people are not just busy, they are endless procrastinators. When you give your audience 2–3 days to watch a film, they might have all the intention and motivation to watch it, but would usually delay it to some “later” time, since there is apparently “enough time”.
  • to continue the previous bullet, when the time to meet the director approaches, most people would either: (1) skip the meeting, as they haven’t watched the film, or (2) participate in the meeting WITHOUT watching the film. Hmmm.
    That feels really stupid… Needless to say, both options are bad for you, the filmmaker.
a typical reaction after watching a (good) film
  • most people are emotionally moved after watching a film. They have so much to say, so many questions to pose… — but then, since they watched it two days in advance, they have to wait to meet you, the filmmaker. When they meet you, if they ever show up (remember bullet one about having to free two time slots?), they have already forgotten what they wanted to say.
  • all the above was concerning audience participation and attention. But what about user experience? — Ok, let’s see: watching the film in one link and meeting in another link means your audience might be confused. “Might be confused?!” They WILL be confused. I had so many people asking me “where’s the film” when they entered the meeting link. They were expecting to watch the film on Zoom…
  • in order to overcome the above, some filmmakers DO screen the film from the meeting platform, by sharing their screen. A HUGE mistake. Meeting platforms are for meetings, not for streaming films.
Click to watch!

So, what can you do to solve all that?

  • Screen the film and meet your audience in one single event (i.e — invite them once).
  • Have the screening AND the meeting on one platform or one single link.
  • Make sure there’s only one page where everything takes place: registration, payment-or-donation, screening, meeting, chat, Q&A or a panel.

How can you achieve all that?
You can use our platform, Movies Everywhere, or find another solution.

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Yoram Schaffer

Online video entrepreneur. Founder of Movie Everywhere, a software company specializing in the film industry