Channel 4 and Film4 have launched an innovative public screening campaign in support of Debbie Tucker Green’s 60-minute film Random, which will have its international premiere in Toronto.

To kick off the weeks of unusual public screenings, 300 people showed up for the unveiling of the film last week at a car park in Peckham. “It was a much more diverse crowd than you’d usually see at a London film event,” Film 4’s Senior Commissioning Editor Katherine Butler noted.

Ahead of Random’s broadcast on Channel 4 on Aug 23 at 10pm, there will be about 40 screenings at different venues, mostly concentrated in London, Glasgow and Birmingham (events company Strong & Co is helping to coordinate). Those will include parks, festivals, barbers shops, community centres, pubs, churches and even a tanning salon. All are free and open to the public.

The team is also still recruiting more people to host pop-up screenings, and those interested can visit this website to find out more about getting a hosting pack including the DVD, flyers and posters.

Random will also screen in the Visions strand at Toronto – even more impressive given its length and TV broadcast before the festival. “Cameron [Bailey, TIFF co-director] really responded to it, it’s a real recognition of the quality of the work,” Butler tells Screen.

Writer/director Debbie Tucker Green adapted the work (produced by Hillbilly Films) from her play of the same name that was a hit at London’s Royal Court Theatre. Nadine Marshall leads the cast in the story of a close-knit, working-class black family whose life is devastatingly disrupted by a single random event.

Green had already worked on audience development for the play, Butler notes. “She got the black audience into the Royal Court. She flyered pubs, clubs and barbershops to get into those communities, and we were inspired by that.”

Butler says the word-of-mouth screenings are well-timed to the launch of Film 4.0, which will in part look at how films connect with audiences in the digital world. “Film 4.0 is looking at how different filmmakers and films have found their audiences. We thought Random was the perfect piece to try something different, it deserves a wider audience, so we’re trying to get the word out. If you have a really great film, the more people that see it the more they will talk about it. You have to feel really confident in your material.”

The initiative is pulled together across Channel 4 – Film4, TV drama, the diversity team and the events team. The Random launch also includes a spoken-word competition which got more than 400 entries online. There will be a film based on the winning entry to be shown after Random’s airing on Aug 23.

Film4 plans to do further work with Green, committed to working with her on a feature film script that she will write. Currently, she is preparing to direct her new play, Truth & Reconciliation, at the Royal Court.