The Little Theater has a long history of showing art films and unusual motion pictures, and since The Little Theater is a non-profit endeavor the PR campaign for its 80th anniversary should not only be minimum cost, but also raise funds. But to get media mileage is costly… the main audience the Little would want to tap are film buffs and auteur, so maybe they can visit the websites of these groups as well, and post a link or ask for a banner or clickable icon of Little Anniversary to be posted on these websites, and ask them to spread the word in film-loving circles.
Presently The Little Theater also holds art exhibits and offers good music in their café. Perhaps we could build an idea for a festival using all of these elements.
A handle for the 80th Anniversary is necessary – maybe 80 YEARS, 80 FILMS, 8 NIGHTS OF GOOD FILMS, GOOD MUSIC, AND GOOD FOOD? That is more of a slogan than a handle… the handle should be something about 80 Years of History, and looking forward to expansion as they open the Little to more art and foreign films from all over the world, especially now that we are seeing a resurgence in filmmaking in Asia and the Middle East with their own distinct look and texture. For the longest time foreign films have been largely from European countries, so a fusion of cultures from all over the globe would be beneficial as the Little expands its selection. And then a festival can be made on this concept. There can be art exhibits and music that will all fuse together with a common theme.
A calendar is important in planning the activities – which should have a cascading, snowball effect culminating on the date of the anniversary in October.
The Little will mount 80 of the best films they have shown in their theater since they started, and 80 new films they would be showing in their anniversary year. The most important thing is that they make a list, and then build a trivia gallery from this. They can call up the artists who have exhibited in the Little and ask them to make a work of art on one of the 80 films, maybe their favorite art or foreign film. The Little can also call for art work submissions from students all over the world with the theme on their favorite film from their country.
The Little can also conduct filmmaking seminars. They can call on the filmmakers whose works they have previously shown, or arrange for the new breed of filmmakers of the new films they will be showing to appear. On their anniversary week it would be great to invite independent filmmakers from all over the world and have a week-long celebration of The Little’s 80 Years. There would be discussions after the film showings, and the Little can sell Festival tickets – an all week pass for $100-$150 that is good for all the films that they will screen for that week. Maybe we can have 8 nights instead of 7, in lieu of the 80 years. Alternatively, they can sell movie bundle tickets – it comes with dinner. They can mount movie dinners, although we will have to look into the plausibility of the idea, and logistics.
Since the Little is also popular as a romantic place being voted as Best Place for a First Date in Rochester, they can have a week-long screening of romantic films. Actually, it might be a good idea to brand a certain week of each month. Consider the third week of each month, and we’ll brand it as a special screening of a genre. Example, for the third week in September we can have Film Noir Nights, or Martial Arts Week. Having special week screenings will encourage people to watch the movies, there will be something new to look forward to even though it is an old film already.
Also, the Little is known for its art deco style, maybe they could have commemorative memorabilia, key chains in the shape of the LITTLE design, shirts with the LITTLE logo, etc. We need an artist t conceptualize the layout and items. Some shirts or posters can be signed by filmmakers and artists who support the Little, like Spike Lee and the Coen Brothers.
For promotion, they can make deals with radio broadcasters for airtime and mention in exchange for movie tickets. They can also give tickets to be raffled or won in a contest over the radio. They can also get in touch with filmmaking schools and departments and have a competition with the winners’ films to be shown at the Little on the anniversary week.