LSC597 LEAP3 KICKSTART: Ten top tips for getting your library film project off to a good start

Producing an interesting, creative, and effective library film education program with a class partner, a library partner and also partnering with the Providence Children’s Film Festival in some way is a tough assignment. Now try to do it all in a month and still have a life. There are a lot of details to work out, a lot of tasks to complete, and not a lot of time to complete them. Here are ten tips for making the process as pain-free as possible.

  1. Form your team – Choose someone who has similar interests and lives nearby or you (or they) are willing to travel. Your project will happen somewhere, and while one partner can handle a lot of the local venue details, both have to be there for the program. Connect with your partner as soon as possible to start planning as time is of the essence.
  2. Select your library partner – This decision may be based on where you work,near where you live, where you already have a relationship with someone, where you know your target audience will be or will come to, or where an appropriate space to hold your program is available on the date you are. Hopefully, even if the kids who frequent a library are just hanging out, as Shoemaker, Martin & Joseph (2010) explain, you can engage them enough to start “messing around”, in this case with film education and media literacy activities.
  3. Choose your film – One of your other early decisions will be the film you’ll be using for your program. Choose one that’s appropriate for the target audience you’d like to attend your program, and of a length that fits both your venues and your needs. If you’re targeting a middle school audience, the Film Foundation’s Story of Movies  guide (2015) has some great suggestions, including using a movie that includes a kid’s point of view. You have to register to get the teachers guides that provide the film education information. Don’t forget that if it’s a feature film, and you don’t have three hours for your program, you can follow the advice from the PBS Film in the Classroom (2011) teachers guide and not show the whole film. That way you’ll have even more time for media literacy and other activities and might spark interest in youth to check out the entire film themselves. For that reason, it would be helpful to choose a film that’s in the library system collection, or donate one at the end of the program. Consider using a film you or your partner saw during the Providence Children’s Film Festival. You’ve already seen it and reported on it and have a good idea how it might be used in a library film program.The PBS Learning Resource also has great suggestions for your film activities, including after-film questions, using a during the film scavenger hunt model. Find out about public performance rights needs early on.
  4. Review LEAP 3 instructions and grading criteria – Make sure you’re focusing your early film education project efforts on what needs to be done by the earliest deadline, while keeping the promotion and marketing, program event day checklist, documenting and evaluation plans in mind.
  5. Set program goals – The ALA One Book, One Community guidelines (2010) provides lots of resources for this and other steps of the planning process. Although its focus is a community-wide book read event, the tips and worksheets provided are easily transferable to your library media event. It might be good to have each team member write out their own goals, then share and synthesize the lists to cover the essential goals you both agree on.
  6. Identify project partners – Brainstorm a list of possible community partners, but before you contact them, have as many details about your program as possible in place, and ask yourself what the program needs and what the collaboration benefits are for each one. You can make a much stronger pitch if you can tell them details about your event, and let them know how they might benefit from participation. You need a student to videotape or photograph your event? Perhaps they need a community project for their portfolio. Once you decide which are the best partners to approach, decide which team member will contact which partner and be their liaison.
  7. Create a budget – What are your projected program costs? Will you pay for them yourselves? Is funding available? The Budget Worksheet in the ALA guide is a bit too detailed, but you can find others online to help you determine what the costs of your program might be and how you plan to cover them. Do you need to purchase the film you’re screening? Public performance rights? Are you planning to have refreshments? Things to serve the refreshments on/in? What will your promotional materials cost?
  8. Create a task timeline – A timeline for needed tasks and who has responsibility for each task will keep everyone on track. Once again the One Book, One Community guide has a worksheet for this purpose, but you might find one of the many free templates available online more to your liking and better suited to your purpose.
  9. Discuss a marketing and promotion plan – This can be worked on later after you get your event details taken care of, but start the discussion about what three marketing strategies you plan to use and think about the tasks you might need to do now to get them going. Does your partner library have a website or newsletter? If so, do they have deadlines for submission? Check out the Library Marketing Pinterest board for ideas, if you need them.
  10. Discuss plans for documentation and evaluation – Again, these are details that can be worked on right up until event day, but you’ll also need to think about these tasks early on to determine if there are contacts that need to be made or research into evaluation tools that needs to be done sooner rather than later.

That’s it! Have fun, keep breathing, and follow these tips and you’ve kickstarted your library film project. Next thing you know, you’ll be creating a Kickstarter campaign for your next project!

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