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Posted: Mon, 10 Apr 2017 09:44

Film Hub Central East opens the Programme Progression Scheme for applications

 Film Hub Central East opens the Programme Progression Scheme for applications

We created the Programme Progression Scheme to support film societies, clubs, and community cinemas in our first open call in Spring 2014. We received large interest from societies who felt they could expand their programming, but needed help to do so.

The scheme continues to help all hub members diversify programming, react to opportunities, and engage audiences through special events, guests, and Q&A activity.

Apply Now

Posted: Fri, 31 Mar 2017 10:59

First impressions: the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) Screening days at BFI Southbank

First impressions: the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) Screening days at BFI Southbank

Mariko Francombe, Fisheye Film Festival

ICO Screening weekends are held every few months, are popular and sell out quickly among those who have come to value them as a great way to preview a selection of independent films due for release during the upcoming season.

We found out about them through being members of the BFI Film Audience Network , currently in the Central East Hub and we are grateful for the bursary in support of our attendance.

Fisheye Film Festival is an annual film festival in its infancy, created in 2015 to celebrate film and screen arts in the area in and around High Wycombe, Bucks. We would like it to inspire filmmaking and broaden the range of cinematic experiences in our locality – both by organizing new events and by highlighting the activities of existing film societies and neighbourhood cinemas.

The festival is named after the fisheye wide-angle lens and embodies the idea of putting us at the centre of the all-round view with our eyes wide open to the world, to the new and to the future. International and independent feature films are therefore key ingredients in the mix of our current range of film-related events.

The 2017 Spring Screening Days happened at BFI Southbank, London on 11t h – 13t h March. It was the first time anyone from Fisheye Film Festival had attended. Two of us went to a day each, but we were too late to secure a booking for Saturday, the first and clearly the most popular day. Most films were screened on more than one day so we did not miss out too much on the film programme, which promised various cinematic treats on offer through several different distributors. The idea was to choose from a series of parallel screenings using the National Film Theatre screens 1, 2 and 3.

I went on Monday 13t h . For me, this was a day of delights in prospect. Greg Witek, in charge of our international film programme, had been the day before and we had had a lengthy late night instant messaging conversation about the films he had chosen to watch and what he had thought of them. He also tipped me off on some other films, which had been highly rated by the audiences on Saturday and Sunday. So I made my choices to watch four movies, wall-to-wall with a lunch-time bite-sized seminar about selling cinema experiences by Martin Carr, thrown in to aid the (cerebral) digestion!

My choices were After the Storm (Japan) ; The Other Side of Hope (Finland) ; I am Not Your Negro (USA) and Their Finest (UK film by Danish director, Lone Scherfig). All were quite different but thoroughly absorbing and stimulating, making for a very enjoyable day of watching films. The press embargo does not enable me to comment more specifically but suffice it to say that any one of them could make our shortlist!

The audience at the Screenings I went to were mainly teams of delegates from Film Societies and a few film festivals and independent cinemas from across the country. I noticed many were to be found in between screenings in the Blue Room café sat in eager discussion and debate over coffee or sandwiches or staring at the detailed analysis of audience feedback for all the films, projected large onto one of the walls.

It struck me that the downside of trying to cover the programme between us was to lack common experience and therefore have the debate over a film, which so enhances cinema. I met one person that I knew from BFI but again that was rushing from one screening to the next.

Given the chance to go again, ideally I would go with more of our team, and have a strategy to enable us to cover the screenings and have time for discussion and networking with other people to maximize the benefit from this valuable opportunity.

Posted: Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:14

Film Hub Members Day

Film Hub Members Day

Tuesday 7 March, 10:00am, Broadway Nottingham

Join us for our spring Hub Members Day at Broadway in Nottingham on March 7th.

It's your chance to talk to us about the upcoming months and the focus areas of the Film Audience Network as part of the BFI's 2022 strategy.

Look forward to hearing more about:

  • Presenting our Diversity Toolkit
  • Young Programmers Network
  • New Release Strategy

We'll be covering any travel costs to ensure you can make it along.

You can register at the link below, we're looking forward to seeing you there!

Register Now

Posted: Wed, 15 Feb 2017 15:35

REACH: Strategic Audience Development

REACH: Strategic Audience Development

Maria Fe Valen, Ipswich Film Theatre

REACH: Strategic Audience Development is a six month course delivered by the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) in partnership with the BFI Film Audience Network and supported by Creative Skillset.

They define it as a 'workshop driven, project-based training programme for independent film exhibitors who wish to learn how to expand their audiences in a strategic manner, best utilising available resources of money, expertise and time'

I work at the Ipswich Film theatre, a community-based two screen cinema located underneath the Ipswich Council building, right in the centre of town. Despite this central location the IFT doesn't have a regular cinema façade, being shadowed by the more prominent Corn exchange venue above us. Last year it was announced that a new multiplex cinema would be built at a shopping mall very near us. The nature of the films that we programme is very different to that of a multiplex, and therefore the arrival of such a venue doesn't necessarily present a direct threat to our business. Nevertheless, we felt that we should use this occasion to do something to identify our strengths and weaknesses as a venue and those of our programming, to explore our status and identity for the community of Ipswich, and find room for improvement. So when this course came along I felt that it was a great opportunity for us to have a close and critical look at our organization and figure out how we can improve our visibility and our existing audience's experiences.

The course started in London at the end of May 2016 with three days of talks by film industry experts and case studies by film exhibitors. It was complemented by practical workshops and peer- to-peer discussions. I arrived there with a loosely written project and a lot of excitement.

We were a total of 18 people, from all parts of Great Britain. This diversity was great, as it provided the opportunity to share experiences and different perspectives with similar organizations from all over the UK. The atmosphere was very friendly, the talks very inspiring. We had lovely lunches and one evening we were taken out for dinner, and we all bonded over delicious food! The range of subjects was fantastic, from data analysis to marketing and programming. All speakers were fabulous and incredibly knowledgeable. One talk I remember in particular. On the last day we were given a talk by Caglar Kimyoncu about accessibility for audiences, which I felt was very enlightening and pertinent. Beyond business and the need to have an audience in the first place, this talk highlighted the human experience of visiting a movie theatre, and how we so often ignore people's basic needs in relation to handicaps that are not immediately obvious to most of us. Wheelchair accessibility has become an obvious handicap that has been widely accommodated, yet there are other handicaps such as hearing impairment, sensitivity to noise or dyslexia, or even mental health difficulties and psychological difficulties, that have an impact on a visit to a cinema.

The course modules were very well structured. The first helped me to devise a clear and realistic plan. I was assigned a mentor to help me with the project. I went back to Ipswich and started

planning the next steps. I organized a series of focus group surveys at the same time as implementing some changes around the cinema, mainly intended to improve communication between us and the customers.

My mentor was great in guiding me through the process and participants could attend a meeting half way through the course in London in September where we could all share our experiences so far.

I kept working on the project through September and October, the main focus being a qualitative survey which we held at the cinema, asking questions to our regular customers and also non- customers. Results were encouraging, as people mostly asked for us not to change our identity, and they didn't mind the lack of venue visibility at all, though there were some suggestions that better marketing could help reach a greater audience. They did however ask for minor box office improvements, better access to programming information and, above all, a place to sit and enjoy a drink and snacks, which we don't have at the moment.

At the end of November we met again for a last time in Glasgow, where we all presented our projects and shared our experiences and ideas.

All in all the course was great in helping me to get a good picture of where the IFT stands in the context of the UK industry, and also of its potential and of the hindrances it faces. Beyond my personal interest in the venue that I represent, I found the whole experience very inspirational. I went away with lots of new ideas and many new friends. I would recommend this course to anyone working within the film exhibition industry wanting to expand their horizons and wanting to gain skills and ideas that help reaching potential audiences anywhere.

Posted: Tue, 24 Jan 2017 16:19

New Release Strategy support for The Fits

New Release Strategy support for The Fits

"The Fits is a dreamy, beautifully syncopated coming-of-age tale."

- Manohla Dargis, The NYTimes

The Fits is not your usual coming-of-age tale. Dreamy, poetic, visually lush with an immersive score that beguiles and intrigues, this confident debut feature from Director Anna Rose Holmer deserves to be seen on the big screen.

The Fits goes beyond the mainstream offer - this critically acclaimed film would not be getting a cinema release without FAN's intervention. It has the potential to reach a diverse audience and show diversity on-screen through the quietly striking presence of its young black lead, Royalty Hightower.

It's distinctive visual style and approach to subject matter make The Fits a real cinematic discovery and critical contribution to the future canon of film. Finally, FAN supporting the film to gives it a theatrical platform and cultural profile in the UK, which will help The Fits reach diverse audiences in cinemas.

Watch the trailer (US)

We're offering tailored support to venues interested in The Fits, get in touch with Andy if you would like to discuss this further.

The Fits (Lionsgate) is now available for venues booking on DCP or DVD/Blu Ray from its release on 24 February. To book or request a screener contact Rachael Koczan at Lionsgate.

Posted: Wed, 11 Jan 2017 16:34

Independent Cinema Office’s “Elevate: Introduction to Leadership”

Independent Cinema Office’s “Elevate: Introduction to Leadership”


Alexzandra Jackson Education Manager for Phoenix, Leicester and Festival Director of The Short Cinema Film Festival

At 30, I found myself as a senior manager and department head, within a nationally recognised independent cinema and arts centre. Even after having worked there for seven years, I couldn't really fathom how I got there and what I needed to do to progress and be the manager I needed to be for my organisation and our audiences.

After speaking to my Film Programme Manager I realised that I was experiencing something called imposter syndrome and I probably wasn't going to be able to be the leader I wanted to be without some guidance and expertise. He suggested that I look into the Independent Cinema Office's Elevate course. The course was specifically targeted at people like me: managers with at least two or more years of experience in film exhibition who were passionate and wanted to make a big contribution to our industry, but had never had the chance to sit down and learn key management skills.

I hadn't come across any other opportunity like it, one which took into consideration the specifics of film exhibition and offered the chance to learn practical management skills, ensuring that you were moving in the right direction for you and your organisation. The course promised a bespoke training experience which would accelerate your development through a holistic approach, with expert support, coaching and peer-to-peer learning. It really didn't disappoint. In fact, it eclipsed my expectations time and time again.

The course took place over four months at the Arnolfini in lovely Bristol, which meant a 5 a.m. wake-up to travel down from Leicester. This was doubly hard before session one; where I didn't sleep at all the night before from nerves, but it was always totally worth it.

There I met eleven other cinema exhibition managers from across the country. Marketing, programme, education and business development were all represented within our collective job titles and we were all managers of programs and/or people. The course lead was a professional business coach called Lucy Ryan and she had the ability to enthuse all of us and to put us at ease simultaneously. Lucy was exactly the right person to guide us through the four stage programme: a self-possessed and poised female business leader with a MSc in Applied Positive Psychology and 20 years of coaching experience. Over the four months, we worked on understanding our management styles, the strengths and weaknesses of our leadership profile and the impact we have on others: influencing others and motivating different personalities within a team. The course was an extensive, holistic look at management, including time management, work/life balance, creating a team action plan, enabling progress and retaining team connection.

For me, the most influential session was our third, where we looked at having a positive presence and maximising our strengths. This session gave us the chance to learn practical skills to manage nerves. Lucy explained the science behind our body's reaction to nerves and stress and gave us simple breathing and standing exercises to counter their effect, as well as some psychological behaviours to take the blood-draining horror out of standing up to deliver intros and presentations.

As a painfully shy person who works in an industry semi-reliant on building fruitful human connections, I have struggled. I know what I'm on about most of the time and if I don't, I'm really happy to learn but, in a networking situation, however, articulating what's in my head to other people in an engaging way without almost immediately wanting the world to swallow me up was a rarity. If I was a bird or a frog, David Attenborough would have spent years trying to find me, my natural habitat is most certainly not at drinks receptions, where let's face it, some of the most valuable contacts are made and friendships are struck up which keep you afloat and relevant in the national conversation. And one of the greatest things to come out of Elevate is: that's okay. I know now that it's not my thing, I now know that I need to find other ways to speak to my peers that highlight my strengths. And, I have eleven new contacts from all over the country I can call upon. I have eleven new contacts that I can happily chat to at drinks receptions.

I would highly recommend managers actively looking to increase their skills and their impact to consider Elevate and I'm grateful to Film Hub Central East for the bursary which enabled me to attend.

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