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Jason Panella

Tips for hosting a movie event

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My local coffee shop is hosting a horror film double feature on Halloween. In past years, they've shown Night of the Living Dead (since it was filmed miles from where I live) and something else to pair with it. (And yes, they either acquire the license or show films in the public domain.) A few times, they've asked me to act as the host--give a brief intro to the films, etc. I obliged, but felt like the experience each time could've gone a lot better--I was either too nervous, or talked way too much, and so on. 

 

I turned down the opportunity to host (or MC, or whatever) the past few years. This year, I'm actually able to do it again, and I actually have some confidence now too! The coffee shop folks said I can pick the films this year. I decided on Night of the Living Dead again, as well as Carnival of Souls. The event doesn't draw a huge crowd, but a handful of college students and folks from the community always show up. Does anyone have any tips or suggestions for how to MC something like this? 

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If I were going to this thing, I'd want to see you adopt a style that melds Robert Osborne with Eli Roth.

 

I will do my best. (Especially since you're bound to be the only person responding to this thread :-) )

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I recently had some young friends over a couple of times to watch films and discuss them. So far we've seen TREE OF LIFE and THE GODFATHER. In both cases I did a short intro. I didn't go into much detail, but highlighted a couple of interesting things/themes to notice, and in the case of THE GODFATHER, I mentioned a couple of interesting production stories. Afterwards we sat around and talked through our reactions, and that gave a more natural opening to bring up other interesting aspects of the films, as well as learn from the reactions of the others. I find people tend to like a good and short intro rather than just start in watching. But they also want to get on with watching, so long intros don't work that well. Personally I like intros that go basically like: 1) this film is so cool because... 2) an notice how it does "x" and "y" etc. 3) and afterwords we might want to talk about how the film... (expresses "z", compares to 'some film', etc.). When I taught film history in college I found it helped to place a film (when it what made, and where) within the context of history: what was going on socially, culturally, politically, economically, etc., at the time of the film's making. Depending on the kind of film and the nature of the event, sometimes it's worth mentioning some simple rules of watching, like turning off cell phones, reminding people where the restrooms are, etc. These are obvious things, but I find some people get excited at such events and start chatting to their friends, etc.

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Man, can I just say that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and CARNIVAL OF SOULS are a perfect double feature, having finally just watched the later film last night.

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Thanks for the thoughts, all. I think it's going to go over well. At the very least, I'll enjoy it! 

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Hey, what time are you getting started with this?  Trick-or-treating is over at 8, so...

 

I've never seen Carnival of Souls.  Will that be the second feature?

 

I'm sure the intro will go fine.  I guess with Night one angle you could take since most of your audience will have familiarity with it (right?) would be to throw out some more obscure trivia or gaffes to look for (like the car damage inconsistency).  There's a BFI Classics book on the film that I seem to recall has some production stories.  Haha-- or just read excerpts from some of the reviews contemporary to its release!

 

It's a pity Bill Hinzman isn't shuffling around this mortal coil any longer-- he'd have probably agreed to make an appearance.

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We're still figuring out when it'll start, but I'm guessing we'll run Night first at seven or so? So you can drop in just in time for Carnival

 

Yeah, it would've be a real coup to have Bill stop in. What a neat guy.

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