Saffron Screen and This Way Up 2015
Posted: Mon, 14 Dec 2015 12:31
This Way Up Conference 2015
Rebecca del Tufo, Programming Manager, Saffron Screen
I attended This Way Up Conference 2015, or #TWU15 as we were encouraged to use in our tweets, looking for ideas for the future development of our cinema, inspiration to refresh me at the end of a long year, and thoughts I could use right now to improve what we do. I met all these aspirations and more in an intense and highly enjoyable two days of talks, panels, discussions and networking at the film exhibition innovation conference organised by three northern Film Hubs and hosted at Manchester's beautiful new HOME.
Ideas came from discussions about the flow of traffic through your cinema (make sure customers go through your bar to increase spend per visit!), talks about what others are doing with event and participatory cinema, and the whacky Choose Your Own Documentary where the audience's votes at key junctures shaped the way the film and story flowed.
Inspiration came from the ever-brilliant Carol Morley, director of Dreams of a Life and The Falling, who makes films for people, not for any particular audience, is bored witless about being asked what it is like to be a female filmmaker, and loves seeing films on the big screen, enjoying the noise (and smell!) of the people around her. Cinephilia and what it means to share our passion in film with others was also a stimulating session – with a list of out-of-the-ordinary films I now need to go and watch.
Practical ideas to improve our cinema right now included realising that everyone finds it hard to do things for the first time and we should make their journey, and their approach to the cinema, as easy and welcoming as possible. We are thinking of adapting the online story we developed for our autism-friendly screenings into something generally available so that people know what to expect when they visit us. Oh, and I checked our Trip Advisor ratings, and was thrilled!
Having recently added the Bath Film Festival F-Ratings to our website (for any film where a woman has directed or written the film or a woman features prominently on screen), the panel about such information endorsed my view that this is information that could interest and educate audiences and might lead to a change in the industry. And I'm already trying to ask the first question in any Q&A of a woman (possibly encouraging them in advance).
I was delighted by the response of Madeleine Probst of Watershed to the squeeze on cinematic release windows and the rise of VoD: build more cinemas to make sure people everywhere can see a broad range of releases, and encourage distributors to use individual cinema's own audience engagement to promote a film.
My biggest disappointment was not getting into the panel discussion about empathy and our neuropathic responses to different films, and how we can use research to curate and then encourage audiences to watch more diverse films. Maybe next time …
And finally, the people. There were networking opportunities and we were frequently encouraged in different panels and sessions to talk to the people around us to find out more about them and discuss our reactions or views of different topics. Meeting everyone from the BFI to tiny film collectives via a fabulous-sounding cinema in Poland added connections, insights and new friends in a vibrant film world. I've already put in my request to go to This Way Up 2016 which will be hosted at the Glasgow Film Theatre.