Bologna, Day 3 – Engage, fail, try again

Monday, 24 June 2019

After yesterday’s dive into Gen Zers’ mind and exhibitors’ solutions to connect to them, Europa Cinemas’ summer camp resumes with more insights on what works and doesn’t work to attract young audiences: a quest punctuated by food, a modelling workshop and a stroll in the trendy places of bella Bologna !


Gen Zers are not easy to pin down that’s why members of the network try and figure ou the best ways to connect to them.

Moira McVean from BFI Film Audience Network, UK shared her latest findings for a 16‐30 ticketing scheme. She works on a FAN a national plan to support exhibitors in setting an efficient ticketing to increase attendance, to access a wide range of films. Among the findings are the notions that youngsters like physical cards and a scheme easy to joined for instance. The outcome of the study reasserts the idea that exhibitors need to make sure the technology used is relevant and meet expectations. Moira explains there is a huge variety of schemes but some venues still do not offer anything for young people. With the FAN scheme, BFI would like to help venues in many ways, centralizing promotional campaigns, guiding in the programming and so on. There 51 responses of venues on the relevance of this dispositive. A working group is being launched around this plan !

A bit later, Heather McIntosh would also present a country wide structure known as Independent Cinema Office, UK. She curated Britain on Film: Protest! a package of archive films made available for booking. It looks at dynamic activism in the UK from 1910s to the 1990s = timely subjects which will open discussion. A clever way to attrack Gen Z because they are committed, have opinions. Heather added that intros and Q&As make the films relatable to them but there is more generally a cross intergenerational interest. Next time, her goals will be to make the reactions of young people more visible, on videos, blogs and to help the cinemas in terms of ticketing conditions and promotion as well.


At Watershed in Bristol, the team does a lot of community based initiatives and invite the participants to be in focus groups. Madeleine Probst comments that price and visibility always come up as issues so the team decided to do bus marketing, bring things outdoors, providing leaflets for all initiatives, did digital marketing and used  young people on their design as a marketing factor. It was a successful approach ! There was 37% of new bookers, it was a satisfying breakthrough but to this day, team keeps reviewing figures. Diversity is probably one of the core drivers because all spectators need to recognize themselves in the campaign. To foster engagement, Watershed do co-curation and are home to 2 MA courses. According to Madeleine, engagement is also achieved through editorial content : by having a curator quite opinionated, guest blogger etc…Finally, some other practical things they do is connect with local artists like graffiti artists to broaden inclusion, pay attention to arrange welcoming spaces & also mind the signage.

Dylan Skolnick’s Cinema Arts Centre in the US set  Young Film Fans membership & Youth Advisory Board. They were kind of…failures so they are reassessing it now. Good spirits ! Affordability is a problem. The notorious 9.95 dollars MoviePass for unlimited movies everywhere in the US proved that when given this option young people came ! Now, at his venue, Dylan offers free tickets for specific programmes, cultivating a wide diversity of films. Another barrier was for them the lack of social media activity. As for the youth advisory board Dylan concludes from his experience that the board should have more agency and be involved in rebranding of fan membership, that the cinema team should ask the youngsters what they need, what they are looking for. Ongoing recruiting is also necessary because young people go to college and leave.


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Daniel Sibbers was up next and told the story of the humorous Läuft bei uns campaign.  Distribution alliances and multiplex associations got together a few years ago to  to get young people back in cinema. After a year the campaign got complicated, less funny according to some. According to Daniel, such a project necessitate steering committees, rules. A few tips are: making your campaign about your cinema as a space, agree on the kind of humour, what you say, how you say it, think of tons of examples before starting !


We saw it before, Get Zers are extremely militant so they expect others to be as well ! Sustainability is one of their main concerns. Also from Yorck Kino Group International Emma Leicher introduced KINO NATÜRLICH a scheme which provide info, keynotes for cinemas of the brand to be green. A book is available (see the picture below). Blaue Stern which is the newest cinema in the group is in the reconstruction phase, which gives the opportunity to mind things like limiting  electrical devices and so on. Reduce the waste glasses you can reuse AQUA. A tip is to invite artisan who know how to build things and talk about what you do. Discount when you use public transport work. Contracts with cleaning companies ought to use green cleaning products. “Nature Power” company use renewable energies, if you resort to them you get two free tickets, as many incentives. Short spot before every screening for people to see they can make a change. #2030 film once a month every Friday about climate change. Can imagine a progression.


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Geert Op de Beeck from volunteer based Filmhuis Mechelen in Belgium talked about Green‐screen series & Open screen. His DIY cinema work with 20 volunteers and thrive on collaborations with other organisations. They screen films with ecological themes and for him Melanie Laurent’s Tomorrow really was a turning point. , He also mentions some feature films like Woman at War and Petit Paysan. For these “green” screening his team bring in organisations and they have since then decided to meet and network once a month to go further. The second relevant initiative is “Open Screen” (implies it is not curated) for young local filmmakers. To attract a broad audience, they organiser things like genuine premieres and treat respectfully these young filmmarkers, pay fees for their films ! The kind of recognition and trust Gen Zers value !

After the coffee break, Hrvoje Laurenta bravely told the story of Kino Europa which is in the midst of a crisis in Zagreb, Croatia. The cinema was built in 1924, and years later in 2009 his team got the keys of the cinema to make it a liberal, independent venue not run by city, nor any Ministr. It is one of the few unique examples in the city.  70% of their revenues come from ticketing, advertising deals, they are independent financially. but now, the municipality took the pretext that renovation is necessary to threaten the place. The cinema community  acted in a spontaneous way calling for a coffee time : a crowd gathered, 2000 people came. A real fight has begun and media coverage and support is huge. Things are rather in favor of Hrvoje and his team but renovation will still take two years. Until then ? The lab participants were asked to imagine in 30 min a quite easy to set up space, concept and content as temporary solution.

It was workshop time !!



All the groups integrated one way or another the energy of the community, by imagining a box office where people would find the protest posters put initially on the Kino Europa original location, or designing a box where people could share their ideas and so on. Some remained very practical and suggested partnerships and search for fundings, crowdfundings.


Dylan Skolnick (Cinema Arts Centre, US)  was back on the stage to provide the examples of the “Cult Café” a cool moment with some games which is considered a gateway drug to get people addicted to cinema and the Retro Picture Show designed to take advantage of youngsters’ obsession with analogue : 35mm films are there embraced.


Samuele Picarelli Perrotta, the lab youngest participant let the audience know about Filmstudio 90’s Filmhub 90 a project which was created 1 year ago and has already 3000 members. The 3 aims of this group of very young cinephiles is to create uncommon events, forward the idea that film means discussion and sharing and create a special place for people to feel free. Outreach is done through flashmobs and networking with associations. The “cinemusic experience” is for instance an event which went well, in open space where several popular local bands were called and offered to work on early films. Their Zombie walk was also a good way to be visible and let nobody indifferent but Samuele wouldn’t show us his impersonation of a zombie…But I think I found it anyway 🙂


Without any transition, our favourite educational programme coordinator Gintare Pranarauskaite transformed the Sala not into a Zombie walk but a joyful Jedi Fair. She’s from Kaunas Cinema Centre „Romuva”, Lithuania and described how by being relevant to school programmes in her film choices, by establishing a personal connection with teachers, by involving many cultural associations, she managed to motivate schools in her area to bring their classes to her venue.

Here are some of her valuable Tips and tricks :


She let the lab participants experience how she manages to establish a trust connection with the pupils she hosts, trying to know how they feel and get their mood with luminous bracelet. By doing so, she hopes they will be back !


Since thanks to Gintare everyone had stretched, the next logical step was to go for a walk to trendy locations where Gen Zers meet : shops, bar, McDonald, a library and so on.


Here’s a holdall list of what the groups noticed :

  • Low prices
  • Seat disposition
  • Urban farming
  • Free wifi
  • All around green mottoes, making one’s commitment visible
  •  Possibility to feel anonymous,
  • Recycling bins ! 
  • Decoration and designs related to travel
  • Creative spaces
  • Informal and relaxed atmospheres
  • Closeness to campus,
  • A big outside space

Madeleine complemented the list with the observation that these places change regularly so maybe cinema theaters should be careful to renew themselves physically speaking, from time to time.

See you tomorrow !


Da Bertino leaves no one indifferent…

Charlotte Wensierski