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Finding An Empty Theatre: Lessons In Publicity

“Cinema should make you forget that you are sitting in a theater” – But what if there is nobody sitting in the theater? That is what happened when I set out for the first film screening that I coordinated. It was screened at a venue in India’s most comprehensive convention center – India Habitat Center, New Delhi. IHC is unique for its infrastructure and architecture and moreover for the cultural programs hosted there. The film was “Phum Shang” which means ‘floating life’. It is a one hour long documentary about the exclusive floating islands of the Loktak Lake in Manipur and the people living there. The screening hall is fully air conditioned and contained about 100 seats with two sets of projectors and screens on both sides of the hall. Around 4-5 people came early for the screening and were waiting outside to have the free tea and snacks provided by IHC to the event event coordinators. Before starting the screening, I gave a short description about the film maker and the film itself.

I had a picture in my mind that a lot of people will come to watch these films and the hall will be full, I thought that there will a big bunch of nature enthusiasts in this city, but I was disappointed. Delhi is a city where you can find lot of people in malls and pubs in the beginning of the month and same people spending evenings in the parks at the end of the month. They earn and spend in the same place. From my findings I figured out that the actual problem behind less number of audiences was not only their lack of interest, but the lack of publicity. The only place where the information about film screening is put is in front of the venue. So publicity is a critical job in organizing an event.

Understanding the depth of this problem I came up with a plan to do online publicity in all the event websites available in the digital highway. It is now certain that the public does know. It is not so certain that the public does care.

Sreeram Rajagopalan

2016 fellow, placed with CMS Vatavaran, Delhi as part of his fellowship. He says "i am a jovial person with an altruistic mindset and find true joy in music, photography and writing. It is in my nature to love, learn, to help and spread smiles."

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