Indie Film Screening Series Research Project

As I’ve been deliberating at both the personal and financial level what the future of the Flickering Light will be, I got inspired to do a little research.

How are other independent film screening series in the US sustaining themselves?

Turns out no one actually knows for sure. I mean, when you start to talk numbers it all gets a little hazy and you come to find out that some people have secret financial angels, others have lots of credit card debt, and some people it just somehow all balances out just right but they’re not sure why.

So, in an effort to collect some knowledge that might help not just me, but the larger community of microcinemas get clearer on how to survive, I’m doing a little research project.

Can you help me spread the word by sharing the survey questions below with anyone you know who runs a screening series or independent film venue? I’m talking Alamo Draft House in Austin to that one crazy art dude you know who screens obscure sci-fi in his basement and charges $3.

The data will be collected and shared on my website later this spring. All individual names will remain anonymous and not be shared publicly.

I’ll be emailing contacts I have as well. Any other ideas on how to spread the word is much appreciated.

[Actual online form will be up soon, but folks are also welcome to cut and past the questions below into a word document or email body]

Please email responses to

Your Name (will not be shared with anyone):

Email Address (will not be shared with anyone):

Organization/Screening Series Name:

Organization/Screening Series Website:

Position At Organization:

1. Brief description of your organization/screening series:

2. How long has your organization/screening series been in operation?

__1-3 years  __3-5 years __5-10 years __10-20 years __20+ years

3. Is your organization/screening series incorporated as a nonprofit, business, or not at all?

4. How often do you do screenings?

__weekly      __monthly   __varies (describe)

5. How much is admission to the screenings?

6. Do you have your own venue, a fixed relationship with one venue, or do you vary locations? Please describe.

7. Do you pay a rental fee for your venue? If yes, is it fixed, or a percentage of your door? (If you have your own venue, put n/a)

8. Do you screen mostly feature length films, shorts, or combination of both?

9. Do you pay screening fees for films to distributors? Why, or why not?

10. How many paid staff members do you have? How many volunteers?

11. Is the founder of your organization/screening series one of the key people that runs the organization/screening series?

12. What are your average total annual expenses?

13. What percentage of your income comes from:

Ticket sales



Individual donors

Corporate sponsors


Founder/Key volunteers wallets


14. If any of your income comes from individual donors, how many donors (approximately) are giving:

$10,000 or more annually

$5,000-$9999 annually
$1,000-$4999 annually

$500-$999 annually

$100-$499 annually

$50-$99 annually

$1-$49 annually

15. What is it that you think drives people to leave their homes and come to your screenings?

16. (Optional longer open question) Do you think independent film screening series have a future in the face of streaming and increased access to home theater set ups for consumers? Why or why not?


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