Category: film industry (Page 1 of 2)

Download post-lockdown cinema exhibition survey Pressing Play (Again)

In March 2020, during one of my many periods of not knowing how to process the pandemic and Lockdown, nor how the future might look for exhibition, I undertook the research project PRESSING PLAY. You can download the results of that survey here.

With the advent of the second major Lockdown in January 2021, the introduction of the mass vaccination programme and subsequent ‘roadmap to recovery’ the time felt right to return to Pressing Play.

This was a time when the sector was still unsure about its future and was rapidly experiencing major changes. But this time we could perhaps also see a possible conclusion to the pandemic.

PRESSING PLAY (AGAIN) was launched in early February 2021 and remained open until April 2021.

As well as providing an update to the first iteration of the survey, the ambition of this edition was to look into the impact of the changes happening to film distribution.

Pressing Play (Again) covered the areas of:

  • How we feel future attendance by different audiences may be impacted by COVID-19.
  • Specific barriers to attendance cinemas might face.
  • The nature of the messages that cinemas will adopt to encourage audiences back into their screens.
  • How exhibitors personally feel about attending events.
  • And what type of activity may be presented as part of reopening strategies.

SELECTED HEADLINE FINDINGS

  • Over 50% of respondents were confident about returning to their own social lives.
  • 73% of respondents have confidence that audiences will return to cinemas.
  • Just 3% of respondents were ‘very worried’ about whether audiences will return to cinemas.
  • Less respondents in 2021 were anxious about the speed that audiences will return to cinemas than in 2020: 40%, compared to 63% a year ago.
  • 48% of respondents anticipate a major impact on cinema attendance by customers aged 65+, compared to 60% a year ago.
  • Exhibitors remain less anxious about the impact of the pandemic on cinema attendance by younger adults and families, compared to other age groups.
  • Fear of infection remains the most significant expected barrier to attendance.
  • 60% of respondents understand that changes to customer viewing habits may be a barrier to attendance.
  • The sector is eager to reopen its doors quickly.
  • Almost two thirds of exhibitors don’t intend to create an event of their reopening.
  • 52% of exhibitors were concerned about how customer viewing habits have changed.
  • Lack of relevant content to screen is a concern for 45% of respondents.
  • 71% of respondents will lead their communications with a variation of ‘Our venue is clean and safe’ as a key reopening message, 64% with a message about shared experience, and 50% with one revolving around cinema offering an immersive escape.
  • The need for audience safety remains paramount, but the value of the cinema experience and our venues’ role in our communities is vital.
  • Only one third of exhibitors do not feel threatened by new models of film release.
  • Exhibitors’ programmes may become more specialist or event-based in the months ahead.

Encounters – a new short film project for cinema from Encounters Film Festival & Tull Stories

Encounters Film Festival, the UK’s leading short film festival and the UK’s only Academy Award, BAFTA and European Film Academy qualifying festival has partnered with UK cinema agency Tull Stories for the launch of new nationwide theatrical release programme ENCOUNTERS, which begins in July. 

Encounters will present curated programmes of UK and international short films which have previously screened with Encounters Film Festival. These programmes will be themed and released quarterly in groups of three, with each month’s programme accompanied by an introduction from relevant filmmakers and artists. July’s line-up is a showcase of emerging female filmmakers each telling stories of young women on screen, with an introduction from actor and producer Maisie Williams and the rest of the Frank Film Club podcast. 

Available from July, Encounters has been designed to not only give exhibitors access to the Encounters Film Festival rich catalogue of content, but also act as a catalyst for reigniting networking opportunities in cinemas for filmmakers, audiences and emerging talent as restrictions lift, cinemas reopen, and audience confidence returns. 

The quarterly release structure of Encounters will allow exhibitors to programme events farther in advance as the sector opens back up. 

Encounters programmes will be approximately one hour in length. This will allow more flexibility in programming and support the addition of networking events, introductions or Q&As. 

Encounters programmes will also be made available to exhibitors at a nominal rental fee, to better support accessible event admission fees or pay what you can pricing initiatives.

Dave Taylor-Matthews, Head of Audience at Encounters Film Festival said:

“We’re excited to be able to launch this new programme as part of our sector’s return. Our festival is built around the concept of community building and like so many, over the last year it’s been difficult for us to not be able to connect in the ways we are used to. We see the festival as the place where the story of film begins and really want this programme to help cinemas welcome their audiences and creative communities back into their spaces.”

Jonny Tull, of Tull Stories said:

“This last year has seen the biggest upheaval for film exhibition and audiences in generations. We’ve adapted to new ways of presenting film and coming together virtually and have advanced our relationship with film in so many ways. As a society we love the act of coming together in cinema spaces, and being particularly passionate about it myself, I’m delighted to be able to work with the Encounters team on this project.”

Encounters will launch in July, with programmes announced later in May.  To find out more or sign up your venue to take part please visit https://www.encounters.film/theatrical-encounters or contact Jonny Tull at jonny@tullstories.co.uk.

Ends

Film image: Amor by Isabel Lamberti

About Encounters Film Festival

Encounters is where the story of film begins. Encounters Film Festival is the UK’s leading short film festival, providing an internationally recognised platform for new and emerging talent since 1995. The international competition is the UK’s only Academy Award, BAFTA and European Film Academy qualifying selection, and past alumni include Lynne Ramsay, Andrea Arnold, Denis Villeneuve, Richard Linklater, Thomas Vinterburg and Mark Jenkin. Encounters Film Festival is funded by Bristol City Council’s Cultural Investment Programme and the BFI, awarding funds from the National Lottery. 

www.encounters.film

@EncountersSFF (Twitter/Instagram)

Jonny Tull launches Tull Stories and 2021 slate

Newcastle upon Tyne-based distributor Jonny Tull will release four titles in the UK/Ireland over 2021 under new banner Tull Stories.  

Tull will first release the Irish documentary GROUNDSWELL from filmmaker Johnny Gogan (Prisoners Of The Moon). The film is released in the UK on Friday 16th April via the Modern Films virtual cinema platform, ahead of Earth Day on Thursday 22nd April. It tells of the trials of a small community group in Leitrim as they fight the fracking company who has just commenced work in their county. Set against the backdrop of the years leading up to Ireland’s historic decision to ban the practice in 2018, the film features appearances from International activists including the actor Mark Ruffalo and author Sandra Steingraber. 

In the summer (date to be set) Tull Stories will release the London Film Festival-selected documentary SOUND FOR THE FUTURE. From artist filmmaker Matt Hulse (Dummy Jim) and Pinball Films, the film is an affectionate and daring reconstruction and deconstruction of the evolution of The Hippies, the young punk band which was formed by Hulse and his siblings in 1979. The soundtrack features music from XTC, Gang of Four, Sleaford Mods, The Stranglers, Ought, Generation Riot, Doug Champion, Cheap Fags and The Hippies.

Sound For The Future

In autumn 2021 Tull will release new feature THE FOOTBALL MONOLOGUES from filmmaker and former actor Greg Cruttwell (Naked, Two Days In The Valley, George Of The Jungle, Chunky Monkey). Completed in September 2020, The Football Monologues adopts a talking heads-style structure involving seven people from different backgrounds under the umbrella of the beautiful game. The Football Monologues stars Emma Amos (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Goodnight Sweetheart) and Samuel Anderson (The History Boys, The Lady In The Van).

The Football Monologues

Tull Stories is also further developing its adventure documentary slate, with the first release being the multi-award-winning PIANO TO ZANSKAR. Michal Sulima’s film is being readied for theatrical release in the summer.

Jonny Tull said:

“I’m delighted to be able to launch Tull Stories with such a high quality and varied slate. My ambition is to work with talented independent filmmakers who tell unique and inspiring stories and each film we have on the way absolutely represents that. I’m looking forward to introducing them – and Tull Stories – to audiences over 2021.”

A John Brabourne awardee in 2020, Tull has worked in distribution and exhibition in the UK independent sector for over 25 years. Tull Stories will work on projects in both exhibition and distribution, providing programming and audience development services for exhibitors as well as distributing specialised film and adventure documentaries.

ENDS

I’m the proud recipient of a John Brabourne Award!

I’m very humbled and incredibly grateful to receive support from the Film & TV Charity in such a difficult year, and at a time where repurposing, and a bit of a fresh start is needed once again.

The John Brabourne Awards exist to support up and coming talent, and as a new entrant into film distribution, receiving this support will help me look to the future, rather than to the past.

I’d strongly encourage others working in Film and TV to apply – find out more about the awards here.

https://filmtvcharity.org.uk/news-event/john-brabourne-awards-2020/

DOWNLOAD THE RESULTS OF PRESSING PLAY, AN INDEPENDENT CINEMA SECTOR SURVEY ABOUT RETURNING FROM LOCKDOWN

Read my article on early results from Pressing Play on the BFI Film Audience Network The Bigger Picture website here.

Watch my segment on the Comscore’s webinar ‘Coronavirus and the UK & Ireland cinema industry’ here.

If you would like to discuss any programming or audience development projects please get in touch.


When the UK went into Lockdown In March, I was reeling in shock.  Over two days I had dozens of film bookings postponed or cancelled, and the exhibition projects that I was working on were all suddenly on pause. 

I felt that I had to try and process this situation in some way and to look ahead to consider how we in exhibition might begin to talk to our customers and encourage them back to cinemas after this enforced intermission. 

It became very clear very quickly that it would be relevant and helpful to talk to my peers and colleagues in exhibition about their own plans, anxieties and expectations, so I created Pressing Play, a snapshot survey which aimed to take the pulse of the current situation we’re in, specifically by asking exhibitors to consider venue closures and life on the other side of Lockdown.

Based on the number of people working in programming roles or similar and who may not have been furloughed the target sample of respondents was set at 100. 

This felt realistic and meant that the sample would still maintain as minimal a margin of error as possible. It also meant that I could access input from a broad mix of venues working across the sector, hearing from cinemas, arts centres and film societies. 

In all, there were responses from 97 exhibitors.

It was completed by representatives of 49 cinemas, 29 arts centres and 18 Film clubs/societies.

The size of conurbations represented scaled from those with under 10,000 residents to those with over 200,000 residents.

The number of screens each organisation programmed ranged from 1 to more than 5.

The questions asked in Pressing Play revolved around the areas of:

  • Our own fears about attending events.
  • How we feel future attendance by different audiences may be impacted by COVID-19.
  • Specific barriers to attendance we might want to consider.
  • The nature of the messages we may use with our audiences to encourage them back into our cinemas.
  • And what type of activity we may present as part of our reopening strategies.

The survey ran from Wednesday 1st April until Tuesday 19th May 2020.

Written within responses is a note of uncertainty, but as time and responses have moved on we can see that confidence is returning to the sector.  

Ultimately Pressing Play is an exercise in understanding and empathising with audiences – and one which I hope may help the sector find an easier route to returning and celebrating our artform with our customers.

I hope that it proves useful.

Headline findings

When audiences will return

63% of respondents are very worried about the speed that audiences will return to the cinema.

45% of us are particularly worried that audiences may not return to cinemas at all after restrictions lift.  

Impact on particular audience segments

We are less anxious about the impact on younger adults and families’ cinema attendance.

60% of respondents to Pressing Play believe that attendance by older audiences (60+) will be greatly affected (over 25% reduction).

Barriers to attendance

93% of respondents are worried about the impact that fear of infection may have amongst audiences.

49% of exhibitors are worried about the impact of the pause on audiences and the industry.

48% of respondents are anxious about the possible impact of new VOD practices and strategies.

33% of exhibitors are anxious about what will be available to screen when cinemas reopen.

Messaging

Exhibitors’ outgoing communications on reopening will be made up of an offer of safety, togetherness, a request for support and patronage, and exciting programming.

58% of respondents will lead with ‘Our venue is clean and safe’ as a key message.

Reopening activity

72% of us want to make a fuss of reopening, marking it with a special event or activity.

33% of organisations will launch new pricing initiatives and 32% will offer free tickets.

Exhibitors are now resigned to opening with restrictions. 

Online engagement

58% of exhibitors who have completed Pressing Play have not undertaken any online activity with audiences.

PRESSING PLAY – a snapshot survey on cinema exhibition and audiences after COVID-19

How will cinemas & programmers react to this pause on our industry? What happens when we reopen our doors? 

I’m undertaking a short survey of the sector to seek insight into how the exhibition sector may react after the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions lift.

If you’re running or programming a cinema or film club please follow the link to take part >> bit.ly/pressingplayJT

North East filmmaker David Kenny tackles divisions in society with his new documentary film IT IS NOT ONE WAY


Photo: Simone Rudolphi

What happens when a Muslim city councillor, a key figure in the English Defence League and a member of ANTIFA have a meal together?

In 2015 North East filmmaker David Kenny picked up his camera and set out on an unusual project.  Having become frustrated at the political and social divisions in UK society, at increasing anti-Islamic sentiments and at more and more media reports of civic unrest, David wanted to try and understand how the opposing views in Britain’s communities might be better articulated and understood. Rather than left and right wing taking to the streets was there another way for opinions to be conveyed?

To answer this question, David invited three people with disparate and opposing societal views to dinner.

Newcastle Muslim Labour Councillor Dipu Ahad, English Defence League member John Banks, and Rob Sands, a member of ANTIFA, all met for the first time in a restaurant in Cumbria, and the resulting documentary, IS NOT ONE WAY, shows what happened that night.

Before making the film, with such a challenging and far-reaching project, David knew the result would offer different answers than purely seeking a response to anti-Muslim sentiment.

“I know that it would be naive to expect any solution to such a huge social issue so my intention was to try and encourage Rob, Dipu and John to better understand one another as people, and to begin to respect one another’s views by the time they had finished their desserts.”

The resulting film is a thought-provoking insight into the mindset of our three subjects and in a way offers its own insight into a fragmented Britain. David says:

“I’m really happy to have undertaken this experiment and with how it has turned out. John, Rob and Dipu were all amazing to have dedicated themselves so fully to the film, and they were all really open and honest. The three have met again since and whilst they will never relate to their differing worlds, they all now have a better understanding of each another’s situations.”

Understanding that the idea of screening a film about societal unrest might make some cinema managers cautious, since completing the film; David has been carefully preparing for a UK cinema tour, going so far as to screen It Is Not One Way in London in a private showing for political and film journalists. He now feels he is ready to unveil his film, with the first public screening taking place at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema on Tuesday 26th February at 6.30pm.

Director of Film Programme at Tyneside Cinema, Andrew Simpson says:

“I was very keen to bring It Is Not One Way to Tyneside Cinema as part of our Frontline series of films. Frontline is all about taking issues or subjects that matter to people now, and starting a conversation which is driven by cinema, and within the cinema space. In this film, David Kenny does exactly that – it perfectly embodies what we are trying to achieve with our Frontline programme. I anticipate a lively discussion after the screening too!”

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion to discuss whether ‘swapping demonstration for dinner’ is a practical option. The panel will include Peter Hopkins (Professor for Social Geography from Newcastle University), Tony Dowling (Chair, People’s Assembly North East & local anti-fascist) and David himself.  It is chaired by Richard Moss, the BBC’s Political Editor for North East and Cumbria.

David says:

“I’m thrilled to be able to screen It Is Not One Way in the north east.  After this screening, I have plans to take the film to other cinemas in the UK during 2019. The release of the film has been supported by over 100 people via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, and it will be really interesting to meet the people who supported it – whatever their perspective.  I’m expecting a healthy debate, and I really want to hear what the audience think of our project.”

Tickets for IT IS NOT ONE WAY (recommended as 15+) can be bought in person from the Tyneside Cinema Box Office, online at www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/film-and-events/view/frontline-9-it-not-one-wayor by calling the cinema on 0191 227 5500. 

Anyone wishing to find out more about David’s film can see more at www.itisnotoneway.com

A year of new experiences

What a year!
 
2018 was going to be the make or break year for me in my endeavour of Connecting People With Stuff, and to have not only survived it but also be looking forward to the next year is unbelievable.
 
I look back on the last 12 months and see the peaks of happy clients, setting out into film distribution, finding new colleagues, enjoying a slate of work which expanded across the UK and the world, lots of recommendations and repeat engagements. I experienced loads of travelling, new learning and skills building – and the sheer sexiness of having a film I’m working on be made The Observer’s Film of The Week by Mark Kermode!
 
I also see the lows of missed opportunities, the anxieties of where the next gig might come from, a little bit of ill-health, and the normal insecurities that occasionally cloud our feelings, strategies and judgement.
 
Cinema is in my blood. After 20+ years of bringing a world of film to my region, and trying to replicate the deep journey I had into cinema for countless others I can’t let go. In 2017 I refused to let the trepidation I felt about major career change push me into another sector and into a role that didn’t involve cinema or an audience sat in front of a big screen.
 
I’m never going to let go of that fascination of engaging audiences with cinema.
 
I set out on this new path to learn new skills and develop. After a wildly successful and satisfying career, this necessary new chapter had to be about exploration, growth, and self-affirmation.
 
It hasn’t disappointed.
 
The last 18 months of being a freelancer have been tough, really tough, but it’s also been the most rewarding period of my life and through it, I’ve found untapped resolve, new skills and an eagerness to push ahead and build myself into something bigger, better and bolder.
 
2019 is the next stage. I head into a new year with pencil sketches of plans – films to help distribute, projects in place across exhibition, programming and audience development – and more teaching. I also now have a network of people around me to talk to, seek advice from and take inspiration from.
 
Once again it’s a make or break year, but this time I head into the fray with more support around me than ever before, more experience, more confidence and a little bit of a strategy.
 
Time to learn, once again. So if you booked a film, offered advice, hired me, or were just there with support, thank you for everything and have a good one!
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