Bologna, Day 4 – Inclusion and social media slayers

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

A usual day at the lab begins with a group meeting in the entrance hall of the Zanhotel Europa and a walk together to Sala Cervi. We had then reached SESSION 7 of the programme with a focus on COMMUNITY BUILDING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA.


It’s the communication slayer Barak Epstein from hip one-screen and cool neon marquee Texas Theatre (owned briefly by Howard Hughes and the location where Lee Harvey Oswald was captured !), Dallas, US who gave a Keynote speech : “How to slay on social: targeting a new generation of movie goers”. At Texas Theatre, there a lot of activities which make the most of spaces such as a gallery, a room behind the screen where film festivals, DJ night, mechanical bull, crew visit and all of this is visible and relayed in social media posts. They spend some 1000 dollars/month on ads bands on Facebook (it’s a shift in spent since they use much less print!) and they use their YouTube channel to archive event videos such as remakes of trailers. Barak looks carefully at the stats as demographics must be well defined to correctly boost posts on Facebook.

He set groups such as “Rock’n’Roll” or “Western” which should be turned into the more precise “John Wayne” maybe. He also pays attention to who go to other theaters to make sure next time more people know they exist and are informed on what they offer. Twitter stays pertinent according to Barak, and out-tagging filmmakers work! Audience insights are surprising there but can be digged into. It is on Instagram Texas theater is the most active though ! A recent trend is: the vertical IGTV longer videos. Generally, most handlings have to be bone on the phone but the Desktop view is possible for this. Gifts are sometimes offered in the stories as well and with the “swipe up option” you can enable access to a ticketing link (when you have a professional account).  Also, it is crucial to answer the questions on your social and engage to gain brand loyalty. Finally, if you want to share articles related to screenings, the place to do that is probably the event page.

Daniel Sibbers of Yorck Kinogruppe, Germany told us about the new young person who was hired to deal with social media as they had some weaknesses until then. The Yorck team realized that it needed things to say that are important to the world of youngsters. Something that can pay back in their personal brand. In a way, social accounts are equivalent to the front cash desk person who is able to interact and make an impression on the customers. What they did, is make comparisons with their competition’s pages : Netflix and Amazon which actually do talk about values in their communication (ex. Support to female filmmakers etc.). Humour is resorted to and anecdotes that bring back memories

Daniel collected a few TIPS :

  • Be playful
  • Play with expectations
  • Be ironic
  • Dare being a groupie
  • Be different
  • Say why the films matter (statement, shared values ex. Spike Lee)
  • Make things local ex. Van Gogh anecdotes to connect him to Berlin
  • Show you relate ex. The Favourite joke about high rent in Berlin
  • Dare to mock the cinema (do repost if necessary 🙂

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  • Ask questions : build your community through tough questions and emotions.
  • Community management to control the space: tone of the comment

A useful tool is Agora Pulse which gather the info from all accounts in one place. It enables to duplicate the content of your post for another media.

All this helped Yorck Kino to largely increase its 18-24 year olds segment ! Well done 🙂

Madeleine Probst gave details on the project RIFE Magazine which enables to work respectfully with Gen Zers, providing for them experiences and the space to develop useful skills and discover what they aspire to. It was set up 5 years ago when the city council wanted Watershed to help with a website destined to youngsters. Watershed decided to work with Latimer company which helped identify 20 young people who could tell what Bristol Youth need. Little Ryan, an influencer for instance was selected and helped. With RIFE MAGAZINE what matters is the range of channels use, Rife is an aggregator. There is a paid role of editorial manager, the principle is to invite contents from other contributors in the city. Madeleine notes that is it is energizing to be in touch with youngsters !

A live skype session with Bristol allowed the audience in Sala Cervi to hear more testimonies of Gen Zers : intolerance, narrow mindedness is what annoys them; collaboration, discovering creative jobs, figuring out path they might take which fits their values is what is important for them. They then gave DO’S and DON’T’S about working with their age group :

  • Really listen
  • Don’t just utilize for claimed diversity, really work with them
  • Pay as often as possible !


The initiative is constantly promoted, there are constant calls, trailers are screened, schools are targeted but mostly the content produced helps get the word out. It really help with the recruitment of youngsters as they develop their entrepreneurial quality but a a lot of mentoring is implied.

Aiga Stengrevica’s Youth Film Academy illustrated another way to involve young people, through writing also and then through the connection with trend influencers.

The lab surgery slots are moments dedicated to helping a participant with a challenge he or she is facing. The first question was on the risk of sounding patronizing or fake when talking on social to the youngsters ?  Some members in the audience wonder whether there’s really a voice for young people, can’t we laugh and be attracted as adults to the same thing ? Some advise to think in terms of individuality, it seems important to sound private and personal. It seems also to be a good idea to collectively realize what the values of the venues are to be on the same page and convincing when communicating. It is also possible to find good ambassadors, be passionate, post a few good things rather than a lot of mediocre ones, combine online and offline, use storytelling.



The afternoon was devoted to a subject which is dear to Gen Zers’ heart : Inclusion. Through the words and smiles of Silke Bomberna, Landee Bryant and Madeleine Probst,  we heard about powerful initiatives ranging from :

  • an event which put get old people in touch with youngsters through the cinema experience,
  • numerous cool and punkish actions (The Groove – a fun-filled night of live music, food, wine, REIFF Festival, a Lesbian Film Festival, the raising of money for charity, the gathering of people around the question of faith etc.) led by the team of the nonprofit Maiden Alley Cinema in Pacudah Kentucky which new screen at the historic Columbia Theatre we would gladly visit soon !

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and staff management inspired by Pixar :

  • Encourage straight talk
  • Learn how to receive feeback
  • Collaborate with experts, bring outside people
  • Don’t fear failure
  • Having good people,
  • Draw the best out of people even if not personality type (not overlook creative capacity)

This busy day ended on two more surgery slots. Gema Salvador from Cine Renoir was looking for tips on launching an educational programme and Elisa from the Cineteca advised her to begin with small actions just for teachers with movie critics etc while Lana Velimirovic Vukalovic (Kino Gaj) offered she had a look to the cinema’s Online catalogue for inspirations on the film titles. Partnership with cinematheques of schools, Goether Film Institute, Interfilm were also suggested. The end of the session was related to a project where sales agent could be in the future in direct connection with cinemas, and then there were Spritz.


Charlotte Wensierski reporting.