If you’ve never hosted a film screening event before, don’t worry! All you need to do is follow the steps below and you’ll be a pro before you know it. If you are experienced at organizing events— well, just think of these suggestions as a gentle reminder.

Why?

Organizing a screening of Veteran Nation is an easy and effective way to call a community to action and get your friends, neighbors and colleagues engaged in serving the nation’s veterans either by starting their own organization, joining an existing group, or finding a cause to support. Let the film do the talking for you. And then ask your community—“What can we do?”

How to get started?

Contact Esprit de Corps and tell us about your plan to hold a screening in your community. We’ll mail you a DVD of the film for your screening event at no cost. You can download a screening kit and then get started.

Whom to invite and how to promote your event?

Ask an existing local service organization, school, church or group to sponsor a screening or organize a screening in your community among your friends, neighbors and colleagues.

Promote your event by sending out a press release or a notice to local media outlets; adding the event information and banners to your website or blog; directing people to the film trailer (at www.servingourvets.org); hanging up posters at approved locations (There is a blank poster in the screening kit. You just have to add “where” and “when”); sending emails to your friends or subscriber lists; and promoting the event in social media (such as Facebook and Twitter). Also let us know and we’ll add your event to our site and our Facebook page.

How to get organized?

Reserve a facility and equipment for the screening. Don’t have a regular meeting place? Try your local school. An auditorium or even a study hall with a large screen and projector would be ideal, but any classroom with a screen and projector might do. Can’t screen a movie at your school? Are you affiliated with a religious organization? How about asking your religious leader for permission to use a meeting space? Or you can also try asking your community center. Still stuck? Ask a local movie theater to donate screen time or host the film.

Make sure the facility can be darkened sufficiently and is large enough to accommodate the anticipated audience. Have sufficient seating or chairs and ensure the screen is sufficiently large and high enough to allow for viewing throughout the room. Before the screening, make sure you have a working projector and DVD player, a good sound system, and microphones (if needed). You might want a technician to assist with setting up and running the equipment.

Enlist co-workers, friends and colleagues to help out. You’ll need a greeter, host, clean-up crew—and a cook. We recommend serving light refreshments before the screening. We also recommend getting a note-taker, someone to capture comments, suggestions, ideas and feedback during the discussion.

Having a sign-in table at the front door serves two functions: You can greet the guests and you can ask for their contact information. We ask you to share emails from your sign-up list with us so we can update folks with tips, suggestions and news on how to serve our nation’s veterans. We included a sign-up sheet in the screening kit at www.servingourvets.org.

After the credits roll?

The film runs about 30 minutes, so there is plenty of time for discussion. We recommend scheduling an hour for the screening and the discussion afterward.

Don’t let folks go before starting the conversation “what can we do to make a difference?” Make sure you hold a discussion about the movie where everyone voices their opinions on the topic. There’s really no point to watching a movie unless there’s time for discussion afterward!

In order to start things off, always have a list of questions prepared that relate to the movie. Watching the movie on your own beforehand can give you some ideas.

You might start by asking if there are veterans in the audience and asking them to contribute their comments and ideas.

Here are some important questions to be addressed:

  • What can our group or community do to help? What do we have to offer?
  • How can we address the challenge of “contact”? How will we find veterans?
  • How can we address the issue of “comradeship”? How can we add a peer-to-peer or mentoring dimension to our program so we make sure veterans are with other veterans?
  • How can we address the challenge of “community”? How can we ensure that there is community backing to build a sustainable program or support for an existing program?

Get organized.

Before folks head home, ask for a commitment to begin an action plan. Organize a committee to do the homework of mapping out the next steps. They can go to www.servingourvets.org to get some suggestions.

Finally, let us know what you did. How did you decide to make a difference? Send us an email at contactus@servingourvets.org.