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July 04 2008

CSTS wants everyone's opinion for 2009. Organizers for Can't Stop the Serenity would like everyone's input to help improve the event for 2009.

I vote for lower gas prices.

Attendance in some cities was lower this year compared to previous years and we'd like to find out why.

Fandom not as big as it used to be?
The economy stinks?

If that is the reason, we need to think up an idea that will improve things for next year. I know Joss could create something new and exciting with Nathan Fillion in it. Maybe we could show Serenity, then sell more raffle tickets and then show that new Whedon stuff at the screenings. Make it a three-hour event.

[ edited by Anonymous1 on 2008-07-04 18:36 ]
You see, if it wasn't called CSTS I'd say show something other than Serenity next year. It's a great movie, but I've no desire to sit through it again really. The reality is, fandom's naturally shrink. It's a thing; it always happens.
Some of this issue, I think, isn't going to be informed enough until we see what the actual funds raised this year looks like. Lower than last year? Higher? The same? Attendance figures are one thing, but funds raised is the more important thing.

There could be an argument, for example, that if funds raised were to stay level with last year (setting aside the natural inclination to want to increase the level each year), and organizers thought that could be maintained, that might be enough right there. I mean, being responsible for an annual contribution to EN of around $100,000 would not be something to cry about.

Not everything has to be about growth. If there's serious contraction in terms of funds raised, then there's a focused conversation to get into on that front. But until we know that figure, I don't know that simply looking at attendance tells us anything useful.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-04 18:59 ]
Haven't the figures from the individual showing been posted much sooner in years past? And I think some of us are still waiting for that long overdue statement from the CSTS organizers about Denver and Dallas. Maybe they ought to take care of that mess before asking about next year.
TamaraC, they address, in part, the reporting of totals on the main site.

Cities have begun to report their donations to the Global Organizer. Cities who have provided proof of their donation (copy of the check sent, copy of the PayPal donation confirmation, etc) now have a [flag icon] next to their name.
Once Equality Now has confirmed the funds have been received, the icon will change to [medal icon].

This was part of the changes in the reporting process put into effect after last year.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2008-07-04 19:19 ]
You see, if it wasn't called CSTS I'd say show something other than Serenity next year.

Well if Cabin In The Woods ever happens maybe they could do a double bill.
If "CSTS" were to mean "Can't Stop the Signal"/"Can't Stop the Screenings," presumably the event could be enlarged to show all kinds of JW-affiliated works . . . otherwise I agree with gossi. I've "only" seen Serenity on the big screen five times, which is two or three times more than I've seen any other film, and that's probably enough for me.
So the numbers will be posted as soon as EN confirms the funds? Or does the icon just change? And how is this (the confirmation from EN) a check if no one ever sees the estimated amount? Shouldn't the number be publicly reported and then separately confirmed in order to avoid the air of impropriety?
Shouldn't the number be publicly reported and then separately confirmed in order to avoid the air of impropriety?

I'm probably in the minority here, but I've never actually seen Serenity on the big screen. I got into Firefly during the time after Serenity left the cinema but before it was out on DVD, so I've never been able to see it. So if there was a CSTS screening close enough to me next year, I wouldn't mind. That said, if it was a different film I'd still turn up, because I'm all for supporting Equality Now.
On the other hand, this year's screening was the 20th time I've seen Serenity on a big screen and it still gave me the same thrills, chills, laughs and tears as it has every previous time. I find it so much fun to watch in the company of 200 other fans - some of whom have never seen it before and some who've never seen it on a big screen.

Out attendance was slightly less this year - no doubt due to a number of factors - but with our sponsor doubling her donation and a successful silent auction, the amount going to Equality Now should be within a hundred dollars of last year, plus 10% of the net proceeds will be going to our local BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre. Final bills aren't in yet from the theatre.

And a number of people who were there already mentioned next year!
Charlotte rocks Can't Stop the Serenity !!!

Charlotte screening thinks they doubled their amount from last year.
Eh, I have no idea how many times I've seen Serenity on the Big Screen. Lost count...still not too many!
I would agree that a change in program or addition would be of interest to me. (The addition of Dr. Horrible was mentioned on one thread.) But then there was no NYC screening this year, so I did not have to decide.
I just wanted to say, bix is absolutely spot on about the donations thing. In all honesty, if it's raising $100k a year for Equality Now, that's something to be so very proud of.

I am hoping Joss and friends clarify something on the Dr Horrible rights at some point. That would be an ideal thing to raise money for things with. It's also free publicity for Horrible.

[ edited by gossi on 2008-07-04 21:45 ]
I don't think it is too often to run 'Serenity' once a year for CSTS, but having said that, I would definitely think that adding 'Doctor Horrible's Sing A-long Blog' would be a perfect addition (not too long, audience participation during songs, and of course, Nathan appearing in it!). The fandom seems pretty solid around the Bay area, and I don't think it is going to disappear any time soon. I hope not.
June is just a very busy time for me - so the weekend is always booked.
You'd have to ask lioness if I'm right, but it seems they told me this year the numbers were up in Toronto (though I had to work last year so I couldn't compare the crowd). I think it helped not being the Pride Parade weekend. There is one conflict with a lot of local geeks (and I use the term in a 'one of us' way) who indicate interest working on a convention that will be on next weekend and having meetings during the screening every year.
Here in Boston we are planning on continuing CSTS. With NO media coverage or advertising we increased our overall attendance. Still, if overall totals stay the same or lower it's still worth doing not just for EN but for the fun as well.

I would love to do other Whedon based charity screenings like a Dr. Horrible night or a Buffy-Sing-A-Long (when it can be resumed) for different local charities.
I think it's going to be individual for each city. Seems a few had lower attendance, some greater... it's up to each city to figure out how to make the event something people will want to come to and make it profitable so the donations are worth the effort. If it isn't a screening, it could be a bake sale, or a shadow puppet show of Serenity, or whatever that city thinks it's citizenry would like to see. And if that means Dr Horrible or a double feature with some other movie, I'm sure we're all bright enough folks to get it done.
Bascially I'm saying it's a case by case basis- not an overall thing.
a) Is there a way of responding privately?

b) I think the biggest difference between this year and previous years was that there was some hope for a sequel in previous years.
I believe that has taken some of the energy from the fandom.
New York City didn't have a screening this year for many reasons. Someone must put out hundreds of dollars out of their own pocket to secure a theater and a place to hold the dinner location. You all know how expensive NYC is. Plus, our group had at least 10 screenings prior to the movie openning. Our group has all seen it (numerous times) and brought every friend we have to see it. I personally lost count at about 21 1/2 times. We were spending money on a theater and restaurant and all that money could have gone directly to Equality Now.

It was the same organizers and it suddenly was becoming a job and became more difficult to organize.

In our group, people are moving away from the board fandom but not from the group of friends that have been made through Browncoats.

We all love Joss to pieces and look forward to Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible. Maybe it's time to look at a new way to raise money for Equality Now?
"Maybe it's time to look at a new way to raise money for Equality Now?"

In SoCal, we definitely raised more than last year. We haven't gotten all the costs organized, but it looks like between 3 screenings we'll have around $7,000. (But last year we did $5,600 at one screening)

In LA, which was the only screening last year, the attendance was down this year. I think by about 70-80 people. But last year people in other areas like OC and San Diego didn't have any other option. This year they could go to a screening in their area. Overall though, the attendance was up. We had over 500 attend all three when last year we had about 300 attend LA.

I think the screenings can continue as long as we get the word out. In San Diego, the only city where the screening showed up in local papers, we had almost as many walk-up ticket purchases as pre-sales. There are plenty of people who will want to see it on the big screen, if they only know about it.

One thing is just getting a theater to give you a good deal so the operating costs are low enough to make it viable.
I think one other thing local organizers MIGHT want to look into for the future is finding a willing local non-profit willing to be their financial agent, which would place an existing institution into the process of handling the money. Locally, CSTS generally has been an unofficial sort of thing.

This is less of an issue, obviously, for those local or regional Browncoat groups which themselves have become non-profits. But it's not an uncommon practice for existing non-profits to agree to act as financial agent to unincorporated groups engaged in charitable activities.
But it's not an uncommon practice for existing non-profits to agree to act as financial agent to unincorporated groups engaged in charitable activities.

I had no idea. That's a fantastic tip.
I just wanted to be clear that I was not criticizing NYC Browncoats for not having a showing. I don't have the time to organize something like this and I cannot fault anyone else for not having it. Also, I have assumed all along that the NYC organization probably has a pretty good idea of the saturation level of the target audience in this area.

I have not seen it on screen as many times as many of the folks here, but certainly more than your average bear. I would love to spend my money giving to charity and doing something somewhat different than I have before. The economy is part of it, there are only so many dollars in the budget, and time is the other part, there are only so many things one can go to so you want to diversify experiences. So I think Dietcoke and Gossi have a good point.
I have to give the organizers credit, as this was the first year here in Memphis. They worked really, really hard to do the best they could, even when it looked doubtful that it was going to happen at all, and we managed to raise $800. I was happy to finally be able to be a part of it and to contribute in some small way to CSTS.

I don't want to sound too negative, but unfortunately, we had a pretty lackluster turnout. But, I really don't know what else they could have done. They tried as hard as they could. I don't know where else they could have attempted to get people to come. Perhaps there just isn't a big fandom in Tennessee. Maybe people didn't know about it? I'm not sure. Based on the turnout, I wonder if they will even do it again next year. Maybe the Mid-South Browncoats should find a different way to raise money.

The screening was disappointing. I was hoping to have a crowd full of cheering fans, but there were hardly any seats full, and most who did come were rather subdued. It's quite amazing that we raised as much as we did. Nevertheless, this was a big moment for me, as this was my first time seeing it on the big screen, but unfortunately, it was kind of a letdown.

Oh, did I mention they screened a full-screen copy?... ;_;
There is an important thing to remember though, even in the light of possible reduced numbers; every person who attends the screenings/events has been part of CSTS's aim to raise awareness, as well as cash. The more people who know about Equality Now, the more chance 'we' have to ensure support can be given. I think it is too easy to lose sight of what the event is all about. And correct me if I'm wrong here but I do tend to view it along the lines of every dollar raised is another dollar EN didn't have yesterday. I'm a realist: I *know* the Leicester UK event isn't going to bring in huge crowds, but that has never for one moment damped my resolve to make it happen.

All that said, I agree with SoddingNancyTribe in that the event could benefit from being revamped to include other JW work.
Our local screening was packed full of eager fans and spirits were high ... we bought T-Shirts and loved the whole gang to pieces.

But, due to the paucity of actual film prints (since, IIRC, many of the prints were accidentally destroyed), we ended up watching a projected DVD, and the visual and sound quality were depressingly poor ... displays that you should be able to read on-screen were illegible, the picture (presumably engineered assuming a backlit TV screen rather than optimized for projection) was muddy, etc.

We love Serenity Now; we intend to always support it in some way. But next year, without a guarantee of watching something other than a projected DVD, we'll be supporting it from home by sending a donation somewhere or just ordering shirts by mail-order or whatever. I realize that this is beyond the control of the organizers, so I'm not complaining ... Just saying that without a movie to watch, the event loses focus (and I mean that in both ways).

Can't stop the signal; it's true. But downsampling it hurts :(
For the LA screening, don't forget about the heat wave. I thought I was going to be out of town until the last minute, but when I found out I wasn't and there were still tickets - I wimped out. It wasn't cooling off much at night, and a drive across the valleys, plus parking a mile away, and what I remember as not the most air-conditioned theater... I wimped out. I'm sure others are hardier, but the weather might have been a factor.
There are now two medals at

Albuquerque, NM (US) $238 Affliate City event

Minneapolis, MN (US) $7,254.15 MN I think had 3 screenings.

Ok. How about this. Do a more interactive event. I know some city already did it, (but not for EN.. I think. Just for fun.) Instead of showing the movie, cities could re-enact the Battle of Serenity Valley. Participants pay to get themselves corpsified by the Alliance in a last ditch effort to keep the outer planets free. Do it however you want. Paint ball battle. Water balloons. But you want to play, you gotta pay.
Or have a strawberry dessert competion/bake off/bake sale. Winner gets a twirly rainbow colored parisol.
Last, do amature hour. People show up, pick a scene, play their favorite characters. The audience could vote for the winner. Sort of like Serenity-karokee.
redeem147 is correct, we got about 100 more people than last year- going from about 175 to 275. We did lose some people to the Symphony - they were doing a Star Wars night.
We haven't been able to announce our donation yet because we are still fighting one big bill that should not have been charged to us.
Ooops, with all the fuss over my brother's 21st birthday party I completely forgot that Melbourne's screening was this weekend. I hope it went well!

I also think it would be a good idea to try showing something different next year, now that we should have new stuff to show. Question is: will this new stuff have as big a draw card as Serenity does?
A new idea that was added to this year's event was "Affiliate Events". Basically, groups of fans could put on a non-screening event to raise funds for Equality Now. There were two this year - in Albuquerque, NM and Auckland, NZ. The Affiliate Event definition is pretty broad, and could incorporate any number of different activities, from JW-related screenings, costume events, trivia nights etc.
This could be something that is expanded in future years, to provide a greater range of events that suit particular markets.

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