Ipswich Film Theatre go to the ICO Screening Days
Posted: Fri, 07 Aug 2015 12:38
Independent Cinema Office Summer Screening Days
My name is Mafe Valen and I am currently employed at the Ipswich Film Theatre as a projectionist and assistant film programmer. The head programmer for the IFT thought it would be a valuable experience and part of my apprenticeship with him to go to the Independent Cinema Office Summer Screening Days 25 – 27 July, 2015, at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield.
Over the course of these three intensive days, the attendees were able to pick and choose from 21 film previews. These were all films to be released during late summer and into the autumn. As I had begun programming at the IFT, it was thought that the opportunity to view a range of films at such an event would help in making decisions and understanding which films might appeal to the IFT audience. I also need to write the brochure copy and explain the film choices to the board, and having a viewing really helps in being able to assist others understand what a film is about and why it might appeal to our audience.
Due to the scheduling and use of multiple screens it wasn't possible to watch all of the films, so I did my best to fit in as many as I could. I was able to see four films per day, which sounds like a film-goer's dream, but it proved to be an intense experience on some days. Among the films I watched were some quite thought provoking or emotion stirring offerings.
Every film had corresponding information (e.g. how to book the film) available. At the end of each session all the attendees were asked to answer a basic questionnaire about their liking of the film, and the overall results were displayed daily on a board so we were able to appreciate at a quick glance which of the films were potential crowd pleasers.
The highlight for me, besides watching some amazing films, was the opportunity to exchange views with exhibitors and programmers from around the country, including some people I knew from previous events and places of work.
There were also talks and other networking opportunities, often running concurrently with film screenings, so there was a lot of variety and choice of which sessions to attend. They offered advice on a range of topics, for example, distribution, programming, cinema & audience development, marketing, and fund raising. The organisation Cinema For All also had a stall in the foyer, and this provided an insight into their work: providing support nationally for community-led cinema. Film Bank Media supported the event and also provided advice on licensing requirements and booking films. Representatives from organisations, e.g. Film Hubs (part of BFI Film Audience Network) and Scalarama, also attended and were on hand to give advice and feedback.
I would recommend these days to exhibitors and marketing people who perhaps do not have the chance to go to film festivals to see cutting edge or new movies. The choice of films avoided typical blockbuster examples, but spanned a nice range of thrillers, documentaries, avant garde films and dramas for a broad audience (although aimed more at a mature demographic).
Link to the films shown: http://www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk/screeningdays/summer2015?films=1
All of the films shown at the event were pre-release titles and a strict press embargo prevented external communications to social networking sites and film forums.
Looking back at the experience, now from the middle of December, it has proved to be very helpful not just in terms of writing about the films, but also in being able to talk to customers from an informed position about the films we will be screening, encouraging them to come if appropriate.