The final day of our network conference kicked off with a look back at recent Innovation Labs. Maddy Probst (Programme Producer, Watershed, UK) highlighted the importance of sharing case studies and knowledge in building audiences across the network. Inspired by those sessions, today’s Case Studies, Open Slot invited six exhibitors to take the stage for brief presentations on their work and experiences.
Javier Pachón (Cinearte/Cineciutat, Spain) talked about Spain’s unwillingness to support exhibition and how it was entirely community led, “We support production and distribution but not exhibition, we are a country that doesn’t want to watch its own movies.” Romanced by the movies and dedicated to enacting change, Pachón said his most valuable learning came from travelling to other countries, and engaging with network activity like the innovation labs, to learn from market leaders and implement best practice.
Jens Lanestrand (Biografcentralen, Sweden) revealed an innovative approach to online engagement for independent and arthouse cinemas – collective online marketing. Responding directly to audience concerns around how much information is required websites in registering and providing personal data, when all they really want to do is buy a ticket, Biografcentralen have created a website that collects and analyses relevant data through a centralised port, reducing the demand on audience time. The greatest aspect for independent cinemas, who don’t have knowledge of CRM, is that Biografcentralen can also help them use that data.
In Hamburg, there is a film quiz with a difference. Launched in 2010 and taking place three or four times a year, the quiz game at Abaton in Germany offers deeper engagement with loyal and devoted cinephiles. Each quiz sees an actor or filmmaker invited as a special guest. Relevant clips from their work are shown which also opens up opportunities to connect with and further advertise special retrospectives and seasons.
Elsewhere, as comments from the floor revealed, cinemas without a cafe or bar are teaming up with such venues in their local area to engage new and existing audiences in a fun and educational social activity.
Anke Van Diejen and Noortje van de Sande from Picl in the Netherlands talked about an online streaming platform that also operates as an arm for independent cinema outreach. “People can’t always go to the cinema,” Anke and Norrtje explained, “They want to see the films, but they can’t make it to the cinema.” Coming from a cinema background themselves, Picl is able to reach a younger audience while still raising revenue for the physical cinema venues. There are currently eighteen participating cinemas in the Netherlands. The cinemas incorporate the platform into their own communication channels which means that an audience member can buy a ticket to the physical venue or to view online from a shared online destination. The price is a premium (the same price as a cinema ticket) so that it doesn’t undervalue the cost, and the films screen on release for the traditional theatrical window, in a further effort not to devalue the theatrical experience. “Most people prefer to go to the cinema,” they assured the room, “but, if they can’t, you don’t lose them.”
Harri Ahokas from the Finnish Film Foundation talked about access and inclusion and the work that the Finnish Film Foundation are doing in creating shared resources and in disseminating vital research and key learning to cinemas across Finland. The most important lesson of which was around creating meaningful and sustainable change. Echoing Jaki McDougall’s presentation from Day 2, Probst surmised, “If you’re going to do inclusion properly then you need a collective change from the audience, too – so it’s a richer exchange for everyone.”
Finally, Anne-Juliette Jolivet from Le 400 Coups gave the example of Plans Cultes, the cinema’s cult programming strand, directed at young audiences. Programming genre films and creating themed events, Le 400 Coups are able to make their cinema space an environment that welcomes and engages a specific youth audience. They also hold screenings in collaboration with local film critics which ensures a deeper and more critical engagement with the content.
Our minds full of winning ideas from the examples given in her presentation of previous innovation labs and from the case studies detailed today, Probst prompted us all to take on the weekend’s learning when returning to our respective home countries, “Write a list of two or three things you are going to do when you get back from this conference,” she said. “If you have obstacles – whether it’s a mind-set or your boss or your team,” she continued, “think about how to implement it and how to present back to your team when you get back.”
Photographs courtesy of Ionut Dobre.