With Honor Flight racking up an impressive number of Tugg events (250+ successful screenings as of this writing) Tugg sat down with director Dan Hayes to talk about life on the road, and using the Tugg platform for maximum success.
Q&A with director Dan Hayes
Seeing that more than 250 Tugg events have taken place across the country, how has Tugg met or exceeded your expectations?
Tugg.com has definitely exceeded our expectations! When we first started discussing a potential theatrical release, we weren’t sure whether we should go with a more traditional release or try Tugg, which was fairly new at the time. The whole Tugg team has been encouraging and very excited about our film. They’ve been available to answer questions and help strategize at any time. They’re open, forward thinking and down to earth. We’re very glad we went with Tugg and we’re thrilled to have partnered on over 200 events.
Were there some unexpected venues or organizations that hosted screenings?
Because our film is about World War II, we tend to have an older audience so we’ve faced some unique challenges in terms of recruiting hosts and selling tickets to a movie online and in advance.
One of the best parts about the Tugg model is that anyone can get involved.
I don’t know that there were any particular groups that stood out as unexpected, but there have been a tremendous variety of people who stepped up to host our film: individuals, families, movie theaters, firefighters, Honor Flight hubs, fraternities, churches, schools and even old friends I hadn’t seen in years!
Any particularly memorable conversations or happenings at these various events? A few highlights?
Of course! One of the best things about Tugg is that it really makes going to a movie more of an ‘event.’ It’s a pretty stark contrast from flipping open the paper and picking a movie 20 minutes before heading to the theatre. There is a host and people sign up well in advance to attend. This helps build buzz and excitement before folks even get to the theatre. And for us, it’s very special when World War II veterans attend with their families. At many of our events, veterans stand up to address the crowd before or after the film. The audience and the veterans love it! Some of our most exciting Tugg screenings took place down in Southeast Florida, which were hosted by the local Honor Flight chapter and they partnered with a local fire department and brought in an Honor Guard, World War II Re-enactors, and even a tank! Additionally, our goal is for young Americans to see this film. Tugg is helping us achieve that mission by empowering teachers and Honor Flight hubs to host Tugg screenings for middle and high school students.
What do you understand better now, as opposed to when you started using Tugg? How would you have used the platform more effectively?
Many of people who host screenings through Tugg are doing so first time. We provided a lot of one on one attention to our hosts (phone and email) because we want them to be successful and ensure that the process goes well for them.
At times throughout the last several months we’ve had two full time staff dedicated to answering questions and helping hosts be more effective.
This increased our overall rate of success pretty dramatically regarding meeting the ticket thresholds and have repeat screening hosts. What is really neat is the amount of money we have been able to raise for local Honor Flights through Tugg. Tugg has a feature that allows ticket buyers to donate to their local Honor Flight non-profit when they purchase their movie ticket. We routinely raise $600 to $1,200 through this feature.
What was the most important outreach tool you used? Social media, email blasts?
The most important step is finding a great host who’s “a super connector,” who’s got a lot of relationships in the community and has time to get the word out.
Many of these people had seen the film at other events or we sent them a watermarked DVD so they were bought in on the power of the film and invested in creating a successful event. Finding non-profit partners, churches, schools, local businesses (particularly radio and TV) and other sponsors is key. We also encouraged hosts to honor veterans at the screenings and include students as much as possible.
Will you consider Tugg for your next film’s release?
Definitely. I think we’d want to start coordinating earlier in the production process to figure out where in the release schedule it makes the most sense to begin. We’d like to be more proactive next time.