Screening your film

So you and your buddies finally scraped up the cash, crew, resources and time, and actually finished your movie. Congrats! You’re already one step ahead of the game, according to Main Art Theatre manager Chene Koppitz.

“People talk a good game,” says Koppitz. “People start films all the time, just like they start bands and novels … but then funding falls away or actors move … and it becomes more financially viable for the filmmaker to go back to being a lawyer, or whatever they were doing beforehand.”

The Main does occasionally screen local films. Koppitz says “when it’s really hot” she gets ten to fifteen requests a month. The theater charges a minimum of $500 to rent a screening auditorium, more depending on the format of the film, the length of the run, etc.

The primary problem, however, is you need a digital video projector to screen a digital video film — something the Main doesn’t have yet. To show a DV film on a traditional projector, the filmmaker needs to tweak the format to accommodate the larger image onscreen.

“It’s one thing to show it in the camera to your friends, or to pop it in a DVD player at home — it’s entirely different in a projection auditorium,” says Koppitz.

When filmmakers lack the equipment or savvy to make the necessary adjustments, Koppitz frequently refers them to the Emagine Theatre in Novi, which does have a DVD projector. Ruth Daniels, head of marketing for the theater, says she gets anywhere from two to 20 requests a month. (The Emagine charges for theater rentals on a sliding scale.)

For smaller audiences, filmmakers can use screening rooms at the DFC, WSU and CCS and the Insight Screening Room in Southfield.

The Roseville Theatre also occasionally screens local films; and there is always the option of entering work at local film festivals.

Filmmakers can also look for a national distributor, who will release the movie in a straight-to-DVD format, sell the movie via the company’s Web site, or possibly make it available at mainstream outlets like and Best Buy.

Filmmakers can also approach small local video stores; here, Thomas Video in Clawson — which specializes in quirky, rare and independent films — is the venue of choice for indie filmmakers looking to put their work on the shelves.

“We encourage it,” says Gary Reichel, who owns the store with Jim Olenski, co-editor of Cult Flicks & Trash Pics: The ultimate guide to independent, cult and B-movies. “We’re very open to local filmmakers, and we even have a special section for it, called ‘The Michigan Connection.’”

“We never say no to a local filmmaker,” says Olenski. “We’ve always supported them.”

Sarah Klein is a Metro Times staff writer. E-mail [email protected]
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