Tags: Bursary Blog

Posted: Wed, 28 Oct 2015 12:25

Christina Newland and London Film Festival

As a representative of Nottingham-based film society Watergate Cinematek, I received a bursary in order to attend this year's London Film Festival and November's ICO Screening Days based at Broadway Cinema. Since we received seed funding to programme and organise a pilot showcase, attending both events allowed me access to screenings that, as a programmer, it was enormously helpful to see. Our planned event - 'Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers on Film' - didn't always have a direct correlation onscreen, but the networking element of both events proved very important. Our organization is young, grassroots, and regional, and we're taking the step into our first funded programming event. At this stage, learning as much as we can from groups like ICO and Cinema for All is important — as is making contact with writers, distributors, and other programmers.

ICO Screening Days was a wonderfully organised and curated weekend event, with a genuinely excellent selection of film screenings. The ICO and Film Hub representatives were helpful and friendly throughout, and the provided list of delegates also helped in terms of getting to know people. Highlights from the weekend included Todd Haynes' Carol and Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight. I highly recommend it for programmers and film societies of all kinds and sizes.

London Film Festival, of course, is a sprawling event attracting most of those involved in the UK film industry, so was an excellent place to start to spread the word about the event, share ideas, and make contacts. I specifically pursued any films regarding Roma subjects and found only one - a quirky and poignant Swedish debut feature called The Garbage Helicopter. Borrowing from Jim Jarmusch and Roy Andersson in equal measure, it's helped to expand our awareness, as programmers, of foreign-language cinema featuring Romany Gypsy characters.

As mentioned, a really vital element with both events was the ability to meet with like-minded programmers and make contacts ahead of the showcase. At ICO Screening Days, specifically, I met with the head programmers of Borderlines Film Festival, who have also received some funding for a traveller-related strand of screenings at next year's fest. We're collaborating on multiple parts of our events, from putting our heads together on research and development to sharing special guests and making programming selections. At London Film Festival, I was able to get the word out more generally to fellow film critics and colleagues, and was able to reach out to Film4 and others in regard to marketing the event and sharing on social media once it's publicly announced. I can only recommend that any other ambitious film programmers seek out these types of bursaries — it can expand your horizons and teach you a lot to attend industry events like these. They both really helped Watergate Cinematek to get the ball rolling on our pilot event.



Posted: Wed, 14 Oct 2015 12:34

Reel Equality go to Cinema For All Conference

A bursary from Film Hub Central East allowed us to send a volunteer from the Reel Equality Film Club Committee to the Cinema For All 2015 Community Cinema Conference (2-4 Oct 2015). The conference is a chance for community cinema and film clubs from around the UK to gather, network and learn about issues relevant to running successful community cinema – from programming to marketing, audience development and accessing and inspiring communities. It was all geared at meeting the needs of film clubs and societies so we were really thrilled to be able to attend and use the learning opportunity.

The conference was also a precursor to the 2015 Cinema For All Film Society of the Year Awards, for which Reel Equality Film Club was shortlisted to win the prize of Best New Film Society. We were excited to be able to attend the award ceremony and enjoy the motivational experience of being recognised for all the hard work we've put into the past 2 years of screening events in Nottingham.

It was a great day to meet film societies from all around the country and learn tips and ideas from them about audience development, programming and accessing diverse communities. The conference was particularly relevant to us because the theme was "diverse people, diverse stories." Reel Equality is a campaigning film club focused on ending media sexism, so it was helpful and inspiring to be able to meet film clubs and societies interested in achieving similar goals. We were particularly happy to be able to meet the organisers of the Bechdel Test Fest (http://bechdeltestfest.com/) in London and the New Black Film Collective (www.tnbfc.co.uk), who have aims completely aligned with ours and are doing great work. Reel Equality coordinator Chloe Cheeseman took part on a panel about programming diverse films with them, which was a great opportunity to share our learning with other film clubs. After the panel it was really useful to be able to brainstorm collaboration ideas and swap contact details.

The highlight of the event for us had to be the evening, when we were crowned Best New Film Society of the Year. It was great that we were able to use our acceptance speech to reiterate our campaign messages; to speak out for the importance of film programmers acting to increase non-sexist representation of women in cinema, as a crucial means of working against sexist media messaging and the gender inequality that underpins domestic violence and abuse. That we were able to share this with an audience of 200 people from film societies and clubs throughout the UK was priceless. We were really proud and very appreciative of the recognition.

We would definitely recommend that film societies are members of Cinema For All and take advantage of the many support and networking opportunities they provide, such as this conference; we've found it invaluable to our development as a successful film club.

Chloe Cheeseman, Reel Equality as part of Equation


Posted: Wed, 07 Oct 2015 12:28

Nottingham Alternative Film Network and Cinema For All Conference

This October the Nottingham Alternative Film Network (NAFN) had the pleasure of attending Cinema For All's 2015 Film Society of the Year Awards, because we were shortlisted as one of six of the most promising film societies that had emerged in the UK in recent years. As we are Cinema For All members, we also had the added good fortune of being able to attend their AGM and vote on this year's pressing issues.

We would definitely advise all other Central East FAN members to attend these events if they get the chance – no matter what their role is in their society – because these events really are so much more than an awards ceremony. Each year, Cinema For All curates a programme of panel discussions around a particular theme, and this in 2015 they followed the ICO's lead and put a strong emphasis on diversity and how societies can make diversity a core part of the work they do.

This really helped us re-evaluate the strategies we have used in the past to attract people to our screenings. In short the event made us a much better club really, because it made us think a lot more about how important it is to invest in the people who do come to our screenings and make them feel like an enfranchised part of our goals.

Even if a particular year's theme doesn't quite appeal to your society, we would still really advise you to attend, as it is so seldom in life that you can actually spend time in a room full of people who are as passionate about films and sharing them with others. Even outside the panel discussions, the people you meet at the awards were full of creative suggestions and they really left us feeling incredibly enthused upon our departure from Sheffield.

Some of our inspirational highlights involved ideas about: how we can use ping-pong balls to create an ingenious visual voting system; how we can theme our events and bribe our viewers with hot-dog cakes; and how we can create funky little passport season passes to keep people coming back. Now we constantly try to think of ways which, as a relatively new club, we can think outside the box and incorporate added extra into our all events to keep winning over new audiences.

The awards do also have something for the out-and-out film fanatics too, as alongside them there also runs a selection of movies which are soon to be made available to societies through people like Filmbank Media. We did feel that the films could have been a little more adventurously programmed, and ironically enough even a bit more diverse, but nevertheless we did find a number of films which would be of interest us and which we wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Part of us equally feels that our being shortlisted for these awards also made people like our local FAN Network, and other institutions like the New Art Exchange in Nottingham take us more seriously and has made them more open to our ideas. Even beyond that, though, the awards were a great opportunity to network and form ties with groups like Scalarama, Free Film Festivals and of course the now multi-award-winning Minicine. These are ties which we really valued forming, and that we definitely hope to put to further use in future.

So if that wasn't already enough of an argument for attending, well let's just say that there's even a party with all of the cakes; and even a delicious craft Cinema Beer to wash it down with too!


Posted: Fri, 07 Aug 2015 12:38

Ipswich Film Theatre go to the ICO Screening Days

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.