What Defines An Event? 10 Thoughts On Transforming Small to LARGE

Hollywood will survive because of its ability to develop, produce, market, and distribute "Event" pictures. Whereas Hollywood's Event Pictures are defined as being designed for general audiences, Truly Free Film can have its own event pictures too by focusing on specific audiences and understanding what it is that will drive people out of their house to do something in conjunction with others. So what are those qualities of "event"?

  1. A conversation that inevitably will continue after the screening is over. It is an event if you are compelled to discuss it afterwards. Is that a memorable scene? A relationship to the world we live in? Truth? Understanding? Passion? Beauty? Transcendence? What? What is the return the audience gets on their 90 minute investment? It's the after-effect, the conversation.
  2. Content whose impact is enhanced by timely consumption. The audience recognizes that their social and intellectual capital will increase by having been among those whom participated -- and thus are compelled to attend.
  3. A once in a blue moon opportunity. It expires, is used up, & is gone gone gone. If you don't go, you will never get this chance again. It is dated and defined by that date.
  4. There are many pieces that fit together into something much much larger. Maybe it is part of a series or a sequence. Maybe it is the fact that the screening is only part of a bigger activity.
  5. The awareness that a lot of people will be participating somehow. The larger the audience the more it is an event. The wider the audience the more it is an event. The more an audience is spread out, the more it is an event.
  6. The memory, the understanding, and/or the appreciation of the participation changes as time passes. Events aren't static. They grow and transform.
  7. Events have a material aspect to them. We take events home with us somehow, but generally via the merchandise that we barter for with our dollars.
  8. People you will never know are talking about it. When the Velvet Underground or The Sex Pistols first played they were events, perhaps not so much in the moment, but certainly in terms of how they were discussed long afterwards. It is partially the knowledge that we have that others are talking about what we participated in that defines an experience as an event.
  9. Anticipation. What makes us think about doing things in advance? How often do we need to be reminded that something is happening here?
  10. Commitment. If we commit to participating in something, it's importance grows tenfold. If we, by either our own volition, or the badgering or heckering of our friends and acquientances, commit to something, it becomes the event of the moment.
I am up at the Sundance Film Festival now, where every screening feels like an event. People wonder why certain films can pack the house at a festival but no one shows up when booked for an actual run. The context of a festival creates the urgency. Yet even still here, you feel that not enough is done by just putting it up on the screen. Filmmakers need to focus more on the context they create around the film. In this day and age it is irresponsible to simply screen your film. You need to build ramps up to the event, and bridges after the screening -- tools & processes that keep the conversation going. It is surprising how few examples there are of folks who are doing it well.
For me, right now, being here in Park City, perhaps the most perfect practice of this is Banksy and his film Exit Through The Gift Shop. The mystique and craft and philosophy of the street art and artist leads me to the movie and keeps me wanting to see the film even though my schedule does not yet permit.