Be very selective
There are a lot of short films out there, which can vary greatly in quality. Do your research and make sure you are selecting the best films you can get your hands on.
If you programme thematically you will attract an audience which is interested in that theme and know what to expect from the screening, to some extent. Try to keep the theme (or genre) reasonably universal – for example comedy, love, horror, sci-fi are all popular. Alternatively, a showcase of shorts from a particular country, director or even actor can work too.
Running order is vital
Some of the best films are a very hard act to follow. Mix up longer and shorter films. Try to end with a crowd pleaser!
Try to keep the running time manageable. A programme of shorts can be an intense viewing experience, so less is often more. Aim for a maximum runtime of 90 minutes. An audience will very rarely complain that a shorts film programme was too short!
Find out what’s popular
Short films are already a fairly ‘niche’ proposition to most cinema audiences. Try to pick films which are fairly accessible to a non-specialist audience. Go to see some short films at a festival and see what goes down well. Festivals often have an award voted for by the audience, so consider looking at these for inclusion in your programme.
Don’t forget to ask your audience for their feedback and suggestions at your event so you have plenty of ideas for your next screening!