Throw Yourself Into the Road Gladly! The blagging of #WithnailWeekend

Now #WithnailWeekend http://www.comms2point0.co.uk/comms2point0/2014/2/18/how-two-film-fans-used-twitter-to-crowdsource-a-crowd.html has some pace we are getting a number of queries about whether we could run alternative dates and venues. The level of interest is great but the answer is sadly no we can’t. Why you SCRUBBERS (I hear you ask?). Because we are a pair of total amateurs with busy working and family lives (except Hugh who lives in a skip and drinks meths with the w%^kers off the site.) We don’t want to make any money out of Withnail Weekend we just want to watch the film with fellow fans. So, in the spirit of the punk rock ethic, here are a few pointers to try and encourage more folk to adopt a do it yourself approach in other parts of the country. We emphasise we aren’t experts and we have made it up as we go along so do not take this as textbook- have a bash and do it your way is the most important message. 

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1) Make sure you have enough interest. Facebook is awash with Withnail fan groups and key word searching on Twitter can help find folk by location who love the film. @Withnailizer alone has thousands of scrubbers following! 

2) Have a recognisable Twitter handle. Having “Withnail” in it is obvious; the balance needs to be catchy and geographically relevant. Hence the uber imaginative “Brum” for us!

3) Find a venue – independent cinemas are more flexible and most allow private screen hire. The Electric in Brum has also helped us with marketing at no extra charge bless them. Here comes the tricky bit- someone has to take a financial risk as there will be a venue hire (this will vary so shop around) and a public licence fee (circa £85). The more of you there are to bankroll it and the more demand you have the lower the risk. Somewhere handy to bus stops and stations will help the cause. In our case we sold the cinema out (106 seats) in six days. It was only a £100 deposit and we have managed full cost recovery swiftly. 

4) Find people to help; the amount of comms involved will peak and trough quite significantly (mornings and early evening on weekends seem to be peak time alongside commuting time on a Friday.) Hugh and I opted to share the management of the Twitter account. People like Mike Ward @badsciencemonk have played a key role in generating twitter traffic and improving our “Tweet reach.” Richard E Grant and Ralph Brown have been lovely; their interest opened the door for many other SCRUBBERS to get involved and raised the profile of #WithnailWeekend significantly. Equally we have been at pains not to bombard with requests, I can imagine they get asked to do this sort of thing rather a lot!

5) Look for local groups that will support you with marketing. There are loads of Birmingham based twitter accounts and blogs such as VisitBrum who have been of immense help. We were also blessed by @_AleMary (pun intended) who kindly placed us in the Birmingham Post. Such people and orgs exist in all cities and are usually really helpful.

6) Follow back. You can’t possibly read all the tweets on your timeline for an account like this but the more you follow the faster your audience grows. To start with it is more about quantity than anything else, the quality follows! 

7) Take the pain out of payment. We used Eventbrite. The downside is the admin fee £1.07 per £8 ticket. However it can drastically increase marketing reach and also means you don’t have to worry about payment. There is also an early payout option that can help if you have cash flow issues. There are also really useful tracker tools (proportion of tickets sold, functionality to develop mailing lists etc). Finally the Eventbrite app enables a scan and check-in function on the day to ensure everyone gets their seat. 

8) Build around the film. We have had loads of ace people such as breweries, restaurants, street vendors, quiz masters, cake shops etc all coming forwards to help and pitch in. Our role is to signpost and co-ordinate wider activities- we haven’t spent a penny on venue hire once the film was booked people are only too happy to have the business. 

9) Be positive. It is a leap when you first post the event online. We have encountered nothing but positivity and offers of help. WithnailWeekend will be a shared effort and we really appreciate everyone who has pitched in ranging from a simple RT to offers of time and money. 

Best of luck- if we can help in anyway come and talk to us 

Enjoy SCRUBBERS 

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Matt Bowsher and Hugh Evans a.k.a. @WithnailBrum

 

Withnailed! From Pub to Festival in 24 Hours

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What f*cker said he wanted to screen this film in Birmingham?”

I met my mate Hugh (@HuBoyd) for the first time in a long time last week. We share a mutual love of the 1987 seminal (as in ground breaking not love wee) film Withnail & I. After a couple of beers we started discussing the challenge of stuffing a cinema full of like minded sorts to persuade a local picture house (to use the Victorian vernacular.) In years gone by this would be the bastion of the fanzine and the conference. Relationships would be carefully developed over years and eventually finding 108 folk with the same bizarre fixation may be feasible. Withnail fans are generally much less visible than train spotters or doggers (except for the Northampton branch where there is much crossover.) Thanks to the power of the “connection machine” (Seth Godin) that is the internet; and specifically social media we have achieved amazing things in 24 hours via the Twitter account @WithnailBrum. Namely: 

1) A phone interview with the Birmingham post tomorrow to help promote the cause

2) Personal support from a TV Dr. Celebrity sort and Worcestershire County Council

3) An offer of financial backing to pay for cake

4) Interest from four cinemas (including an outdoor one) in screening the film

5) Circa 200 followers on Twitter

6) A kind word of support from my teenage hero Ralph Brown (beloved in the Withnail World as Danny the Hippie) 

7) Pubs tripping over themselves to host the after party – including the excellent Mike at the Welly who seems to know every bugger in Birmingham and has got them interested

8) Free logo design courtesy of Hugh’s awesome daughter

9) Some suggestion of a splinter group in Nottingham

All of the above means we have stopped talking about a screening and are now using the hash tag #WithnailWeekend. The bit that I have enjoyed the most though is some of the banter on Twitter. E.g. @KevMcCready suggesting that Richard E Grant names his new aftershave range “Ponce” or “F*cker” and Hugh proclaiming to the Twitter sphere that Phenodihydrochloride Benzelex for breakfast is the best means to rid himself of a bastard behind the eyes. 

I am really excited about #WithnailWeekend and can’t wait to meet some of the folks we are already connecting with on Twitter. In a queer way it will be nice to acknowledge the passing of the genius that was Richard Griffiths with people who feel the same way about him. In the end this is all about a shared love of a film that is superficially the story of nothing and yet touches so many (even if it MUST be burglary.) Thanks for all your support, keep following the best is yet to come

Matt – @WithnailBrum