How To Go Virtual For Filmmakers

Like most creative fields, independent filmmaking has been vastly impacted by the coronavirus. Film productions have been canceled, halted and/or postponed. Cinemas have shut down and have had no choice but to lay off or furlough their employees. Film festivals have either been canceled, postponed, or moved online. Overall, there is an atmosphere of uncertainty over what could be a large economic collapse in the film industry.


Despite this setback, communities within the film industry have come up with creative solutions to mitigate the damage of the pandemic. Using a variety of technologies to help publicize, screen, and give feedback on films, they've found ways to continue to work and find new audiences for their projects.


What are some strategies to cope with these changes?

Filmmakers who show their work in arthouses can take advantage of new types of partnerships between distribution companies and cinemas. Kino Lorber, Film Movement, and Magnolia Pictures are a few of the distribution companies that have partnered with indie theaters to stream films. Through virtual cinemas, viewers pay a small fee which is split between the distribution company and the theater. In order to promote the films, generate interest and take advantage of the interactivity available on this new platform, theatrical releases often include live virtual Q & A’s between cast, crew, and directors. This extends the reach of the usual in-theater postscreening discussion to a potenatially much larger international group.

As for film festivals, many of the larger ones were either cancelled, postponed, or made virtual. Some festivals have partnered with streaming platforms to reach their audience, and set a limited time to screen the film so as to emulate a fixed screening event. Festival events, such as classes, workshops, and interviews, are being set up virtually as well.


Filmmakers do not need to depend only on film festivals, streaming sites and art houses to distribute their work. Together Films is hosting virtual sessions where they discuss strategies related to Festivals, Theatres, Sales Agents, Filmmakers & Impact Producers that are accessible on their website. Picture Motions has created a virtual theater for its clients to participate in chats, screenings, and panel discussions. They also hosted a virtual panel Q&A where they provided best practices advice on how to host virtual screenings and events, and generated an extensive list of various streaming services, including tech specs, cost, and features for each service. They suggest “combining” a hybrid of streaming services in order to host events that allow for both live screenings and live panel discussion that allow for audience interaction.

For indie filmmakers and creatives, besides taking a look at these resources, we suggest focusing on your social media presence, especially instagram. Use your voice and embrace your individuality. What story are you trying to tell? What are you passionate about? What can you do to progress a movement? Another tip that we found helpful is to garner “micro-influencers,” instagram accounts that have gained a few thousand followers but are by no means “celebrities.” Having a network of these local “niche” influencers in your corner of the internet can bring together like-minded people so as to amplify your platform, your voice, and your work. The more you build your network the more opportunities, collaborations, and recognition will come your way. 


What services can be helpful?

FilmFreeway is a common site used to apply for film festivals and for festival coordinators to manage submissions. The website provides an extensive and detailed database of established film festivals happening all over the world. Anyone from first time filmmakers to established directors can view festival deadlines, prices for submission, festival categories, festival reviews, and can monitor their submissions through their account. Meanwhile, festival coordinators use the database to view, organize, and assess their submissions. 


There are several streaming services that are available, both free and paid, that offer live streaming, panel discussions, Q&A’s, and live panel discussions. To view an extensive list of these services all in one place, curated by  Picture Motions, follow this link.


Paid Resources for Streaming:

These resources differ on what they offer: some offer livestream, some offer the sale of tickets, some offer audience interaction and Q&A, others don’t. It depends on what is required for your particular film event or screening!


  • - Premium cost of $25/ film. No live Q&A option. 

  • Vimeo Enterprise: $75/ month. Allows for audience interaction and live panel Q&A along with host-initiated live screening. 

  • Kast - 4.99/ month or 49.99/ year. Allows for virtual screening, audience interaction, and live Q&A. 

  • OVEE - $500/ screening for filmmakers “outside public media”

  • ScreeningRoom - starts at $5/ month. No co-viewing or audience interaction options. 

  • Gathr - allows you to price tickets and accept donations. Cost depends on price of tickets. A portion of the profits goes to the service. Allows for live streaming, Q&A, and audience interaction. 

  • Eventive - used to set up film festivals. $975 per festival or 10 features. Allows for audience Q&A and audience interaction.


Free Resources for Streaming: 

If you are an artist who is not in a position to pay for a streaming service, no worries! There are plenty of free alternatives that will allow you to facilitate your event. 


  • Netflix Party - only for content on Netflix and only accessible with Chrome extension. Allows for audience interaction and co-viewing, no panel Q&A. (A hit with Beyonce HOMEcoming!)

  • &Chill - live stream with chat room. No Q&A option. Video must be uploaded to Youtube. 

  • - allows for livestream and chatroom for videos uploaded to vimeo, Youtube, Soundcloud, or 

  • Kosmi - “less streamlined” but allows for live streaming, audience interaction through a chatroom, and Q&A.


Free Resources for Hosting a Panel/ Webinar

In order to have a dynamic and effective film screening or event, film companies are suggesting using a “hybrid” of streaming services (see above) along with a service to hold a panel or discussion. Here are some FREE resources to host these events. 


Google Meets 

  • Free and unlimited until September 2020

  • After September 2020, it will have a 60 minute time limit and a 100 participant limit

  • Available on iOS, Web, Chromebook, and Android

  • You’re able to admit/accept or deny people from entering your meeting 

  • You can send people a link to invite them to your meeting

  • 16 people can be displayed at once on the screen 

  • Alternative plans available for $10 and $20 a month 

  • Can share screen 

  • Recording available



  • Free version allows up to 100 participants and calls limited to 40 minutes

  • Alternative plans available for $14.99 and $19.99 a month 

  • Known security issues 

  • 49 people can be displayed at once on the screen

  • Can share screen 

  • Recording available 

  • You’re able to admit/accept or deny people from entering your meeting

  • Can change virtual background 

  • Offered “Webinars” And “Meetings” 



  • Offers majority of its services completely free

  • Available across Windows, iOS, Android and Mac

  • 50 participant limit 

  • Can share screen 

  • Recording available 

  • Some say it makes your computer run slower 

More helpful tips for how to host a digital event through a video conference platform can be found here.


How to Receive Payments 

When someone is interested in coming to your event or screening you can give them your PayPal (ex., Venmo (ex. @NallaT) or Cash App (ex. $NallaT) handle for them to send payment to. Once you’ve received the payment, you can keep track of people who have signed up with a list and then send your Zoom or Google Meet link to only people who have signed up AND paid for the class. 


How to Sign Up for Venmo 

  1. Download one of our mobile apps: iOS & Android (Venmo does not have a Windows app)

  2. Open the app

  3. Choose your sign up method and create a secure password between 8 and 32 characters long 

  4. Verify your phone number and email address 

  5. Add and verify your bank account 


How to Sign Up for PayPal

  1. Go to 

  2. Click sign up button in upper right 

  3. Choose personal or business account 

  4. Fill out your information 

  5. Create password 

  6. Link your bank account info 


Here’s a helpful how-to video 


How to Sign Up for Cash App 

  1. Search for Cash App in your device’s App Store

  2. Click the Cash App by Square Inc. app with a green picture with a money symbol. 

  3. If it isn’t downloading, you might not have enough Storage on your phone so you may need to delete other apps you are not using. 

  4. Open the app when it’s done downloading

  5. Enter information 

  6. It will send you confirmation code, enter this code 

  7. Click the circle button in the upper right corner 

  8. This will bring you to the page where you can add a profile picture and your name and your handle which you will give to people to send you money 

  9. Adjust info under the Privacy & Security and Notification tabs to your liking 

  10.  You must give people your handle name with a “$” in front of it always, so they can correctly locate you to send money 


Free Classes for Filmmakers and Film Students


If you are finding yourself with a ton of freetime during quarantine, we encourage you to take advantage of resources offered on the web, including free lessons and panels, in order to improve your knowledge of film and filmmaking. There are several, but we will suggest a few below. 


Youtube has a section of Masterclass presentations where professionals of the film industry talk about their craft. It is highly informative for anyone who wants to learn the ins and outs of film making and is available for free here MIT has made previous film related courses available online for FREE and they are accessible on their website here. Together Films has posted their webinars on transitioning to a virtual film world, available for free public viewing hereOn No Film School you can read articles about screenwriting, cinematography, and the behind the scenes of filmmaking. You can find a wealth of masterclass videos taught by professionals on a variety of filmmaking topics here, provided by


Youtube can be a great resource to pick up filmmaking techniques. Visit these channels for a closer look at anything filmmaking related lighting to screenwriting.  

Film Riot

Tom Antos

No Film School 

Lessons From The Screenplay

Filmmaker IQ (see a link to their official website above)

Indy Mogul


Relief Funds and other resources for Filmmakers


Even if you think your chances of getting a grant, aid, or funding are slim we encourage you to apply “often and early.” The more you apply (for the same grant and for a wide spectrum of grants) the more likely it is that you will be awarded with funds. It never hurts to apply! We will provide some links to resources below, and be sure to do your own research as new opportunities arise all the time. Here is a guide created by media groups to assist filmmakers in finding and applying for Federal Coronavirus Relief funding including unemployment benefits such as the Payment Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, and other federal aid services. 


Other resources include artists, which provides “a compilation of resources, tools and opportunities” to provide artists, including filmmakers, support. At, access critical information on applying for grants, transitioning to virtual, and ways to maintain mental health during the pandemic. Reach out, apply, collaborate, and stay safe!


Check out these other resources below:


Backstage is a website where artists and individuals in the creative industry can explore jobs, and they have an updated page of artists resources including relief aid applications. 

Artist Relief Project raising money for artists in need. 

Sag Aftra Foundation: available for people who are unable to pay their basic living expenses (food/housing/health care) at present.

Twenty Summers Emergency Arts Funds: artists and arts organizations facing unmanageable financial loss as a result of the Coronavirus.