This Way Up Blog - Saffron Screen
Posted: Mon, 27 Nov 2017 09:55
Andrew Jenkins, Saffron Screen
Five short months ago I was appointed Business Manager of Saffron Screen, an independent community cinema seating 200, based within the local high school which shows a wide range of films and events. We welcomed an audience of 37,000 over 447 screenings in 2016.
My prior experience was in theatre management in London, so cinema is a new venture for me – likewise this was my first This Way Up Conference and first visit to Hull. Consequently the many faces in the foyer of Hull Truck the next morning were largely unknown to me but I was soon chatting to the other delegates.
Martin Green, CEO and Director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 gave the introductory speech, followed by Moira Sinclair, CEO of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, who discussed the need for industry resilience to the huge range of digital platforms for home viewing. Moira stressed the need for long-term engagement with the community, and highlighted the need for coaching, mentoring and shadowing in the workplace, including the Government's apprenticeship scheme.
Next up was Jenny Sealey MBE, Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre, who gave an impassioned speech. Her company creates theatre for, and places centre-stage, D/deaf and disabled people. Jenny feels that access is everyone's responsibility which needs to encompass everyone in the organisation from the top down to make all welcome, both as guests and colleagues.
Simran Hans, writer, critic and Film Programmer, asked what kind of labour props up the UK film exhibition industry. Low pay in the industry continues to be an issue and there has been some recent publicity surrounding a well-known cinema chain. Simran also stressed the importance of engaging with young people and encouraging new voices at programming level.
After lunch which catered for every combination of allergy, I attended a discussion on Exploring European Innovation, with Boglarka Nagy of Elvire Popesco, a film centre in Bucharest, who talked of innovation and creating social and communal experiences, suggesting that students should be invited to run their own events, such as monthly film groups. At her particular venue, ticket pricing was seen as the main obstacle, and a £1 (equivalent rate) ticket was introduced. A price reduction to £4.50 for the young at the Broadway Nottingham increased that demographic's attendance by 40% in 12 months. Boglarka suggested targeting colleges and universities, community and youth organisations and recommended young-people-only-screenings where they can attend the cinema safe in the knowledge that it won't be full of their parent look-a-likes!
The day finished with a private view of the Turner Prize shortlist at the Ferens Gallery, with excellent canapes and plenty of wine and beer.
An inspiring second day talk by Alice Morrison, adventurer and author, took us on a journey of her physical accomplishments leaving us with the message that 'It's OK to fail' and the role potential failure plays in pushing our boundaries.
Next Up was 'Safety Not Guaranteed – Security and Safeguarding Cultural Events.' Not the terror threat talk which I had perhaps anticipated, this focussed on the current sexual harassment concerns within the industry. So, what do we do in the future with a Weinstein production or a Kevin Spacey film? Obliterating the film entirely would impact the many other people involved in the making of the film and so perhaps one reaction could be to screen these films but address the issues via a post-film discussion or blog.
Many thanks to Film Hub Central East for providing Saffron Screen with a bursary to cover my attendance. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about our industry and to meet so many people in such a short space of time. I'll definitely be back next year. Thank you to all the speakers and those who organised the event.