Independent Cinema Office Blog

News and views on the world of independent film

News round-up... 13/11/2015

Posted Friday 13 November 2015 by Mike Tang in News Round-up

Our Little Sister
A still from the gorgeous Our Little Sister, now confirmed for Winter Screening Days

ICO News

  • This weekend we're off to Nottingham for Autumn Screening Days. We're really pleased to be back at Broadway - especially in their 25th anniversary year - and we're looking forward to see you for a fantastic array of films. We've got awards season favourites, Cannes critical smashes and new directorial debuts. See you there!
  • After that we'll be prepping Winter Screening Days in January at Watershed. Films to date are Kore-eda's masterful Our Little Sister; searing Holocaust drama and Cannes Grand Prix winner) Son of Saul; and Tom Geens' Couple in a Hole, recently screened to acclaim at BFI London Film Festival. More films to come soon - watch this space.
  • We're hiring! We're looking for a Training and Development Officer who's great fun and who can do all the things listed here.  Apply by 5pm 17 November!

Opportunities and calls for submissions

Read more

  • Celebrate the ultimate cinematic provocateur with ICA's Luis Buñuel retrospective, Aesthetics of the Irrational which started yesterday - featuring special events and panels alongside screenings of his films, from Un Chien Andalou to The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.
  • We've all heard this one - "I haven't read it but I watched the film." When it comes to filmed adaptations of Shakespeare, there's now a fantastic resource to help you brush up. Find out more at Shakespeare on Film.
  • The Verge takes a look at just what's going on with midnight movies. Is it dying or has it changed forever?
  • A great interview with Werner Herzog, talking about his new book, the WWE and Joaquin Phoenix.
  • Looking for high resolution images of some quality film posters? Look no further than Film on Paper.
  • Film needs saving and the Museum of Modern Art is holding a festival of film preservation, To Save and Project.

What's new in event cinema? Tech Ambassador report

Posted Wednesday 28 October 2015 by Duncan Carson in Training & Conferences

ECA Conference

Event cinema is making a big impact in independent cinemas. Whether it's pulling big crowds for Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet, Roger Waters' The Wall live show, English National Opera or Vikings from the British Museum, independents perform really strongly with this material. But delivering this content is not necessarily easy, and comes with potentially high risks. The thrill of the live show is also a potential headache if there are technical concerns. We sent Paul Willmott, Business and Technical Manager for Saffron Screen to visit the Event Cinema Association Conference, the annual meeting of leaders in the field to discuss this emerging source of great content for cinemas. Paul is one of our Tech Ambassadors, and event cinema is one of the key topics we've delivered technical advice to venues for. 

Saffron Screen has been showing Event Cinema content for over four years. Initially we struggled with domestic receivers for receiving the satellite broadcasts; many problems were encountered although we never lost a show and helped out many other cinemas with recordings for encores when theirs had failed. We now use a LANsat receiver (with an Icecrpyt as a backup) with the quality, reliability and support being much better.

Occasionally we also take content via DCPs, such as Coriolanus and Roger Waters’ The Wall. The amount of content seems to be increasing and we find it difficult to get enough screen time to show everything we want to. The ECA conference was a good opportunity to gauge how the market is developing both from a content and a technical point of view.

Following an introduction by Melissa Cogavin, MD of the ECA, the first session of this conference was a discussion around the various methods of content delivery. There seemed to be a general consensus that streaming over the internet would be a primary method in the future (and is already the case in a number of areas across Europe). Simon Tandy of LANsat also mentioned that streaming over satellite is now possible, giving a much more reliable delivery than current satellite broadcasts.

There was one question from the audience on whether the unencrypted nature of existing broadcasts and hence the possibility (and actuality) of piracy was a problem for content providers. A representative from National Theatre Live implied that with over 650 cinemas showing their content, the risk and cost of installing new equipment to decrypt broadcasts is too high.

Following this session was a choice of topics, and I chose the Crystal Ball Time: Projections & Reflections hosted by David Hancock of IHS Screen Digest and Lucy Jones of Rentrak.

ECA Conference 2
With this rapidly emerging new content, best practice advice from panels is essential

Some interesting audience figures were given, showing 2014/15 was 3% down on the previous year. It was thought that this was only a blip in the very fast growing market for event cinema.  It was also noted that the content available is widening, but with theatre, opera and ballet still doing well. General cinema is providing an increasing number of options such as 4D, Laser projection (and hence bright 3D), e-sports, HDR, IMAX. Maybe event cinema needs to embrace these technologies?

Peter Buckingham suggested that there is now less ownership of content (e.g.DVDs) and more streaming. The customer experience should be about “emotional enhancement” and be more immersive (sound and picture). Younger audiences want to participate more.

The next session was the Annual ECA Awards hosted by Nick Wallis. In the best independent category, Picturehouse Uckfield triumphed.

After lunch, there were a number of short presentations from Philips Lightvibes - which adds a series of light panels to the sides of cinema auditoriums that reflect the onscreen action to aid immersion - Operaworld and Powster, followed by breakout sessions. I attended a general 'speakers' corner' that included an interesting overview of the market in China where, despite a huge number of screens (28,000+), due to a quota system cinemas have a limited choice of what they can show.

ECA Conference 3
Melissa Cogavin (left), Managing Director of the Event Cinema Association, speaks to delegates

The final session of the day was on how to stay ahead of the game in a VOD world. Following on from Peter Buckingham’s comments earlier in the day, it was emphasised that going to the cinema should be a communal experience. You walk in anonymously, but walk out part of a community.

Content providers are now starting to think about getting content out after the event cinema showing. For example, the Met Opera are now starting their own VOD channel showing content that was in cinemas six months previously.  However, it was indicated that sorting out rights for theatrical, VOD and DVD releases is very complex. Much of existing content has no long term rights, so may never be shown again. The closing speech thanked everyone for a good conference, but noted that lack of independent exhibitors attending (only three, including yours truly)!

Your first job in film: what I wished I'd known

Posted Wednesday 28 October 2015 by Duncan Carson in Cinema Careers, FEDS scheme

Hardish Matharu, one of the fifteen FEDS now graduating from our scheme, many into full time film industry jobs

We're wrapping up the FEDS scheme, with some great results for the trainees. Many of them have achieved continuing roles in the film industry. We asked Hardish Matharu, one of our trainees working at distributor eOne, to reflect back on her experience and give some lessons for new entrants to the sometimes intimidating film business. Hardish has now taken up a role as Marketing Assistant.

I’ve always had an interest in each and every single aspect of the film industry and think this scheme allowed me to learn more about an area I didn’t really know much about at all. I didn’t realise how much thought, creativity and detail goes into film distribution. I do honestly think that learning about all the different areas in the industry is vital as it allows you to understand all the functions and be more knowledgeable. I think the problem most people have when they want a job in film they narrow it down so much that it can actually become difficult to find the right position. In fact, I was actually one of those people after I graduated. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want but the tricky part is trying to figure out how to get there and that’s usually what scares people the most. One thing I’ve learnt is not to limit myself when it comes to those goals.

Hardish Beach

General tips I wish I could have given myself whilst looking for a job within film:

  • Be confident in yourself.
  • Never doubt your abilities and what you’re capable of based on rejections.
  • Don’t limit yourself in the positions you apply for.
  • Always do your research.
  • Skills are transferrable no matter what the role is.
  • You are capable of achieving your goals, even if you are working in a different area.
  • Any experience you gain will help you and improve your chances in finding a role more suited.
  • Create a portfolio and update it as regularly as you can.

When I first started the scheme I was nervous, confused and also grieving. I had lost my grandad two weeks before I began. I was anxious leading up to the day I started because this was my first real full-time job and I wasn’t sure whether or not I was capable. Most people experience that feeling when embarking on something exciting and new. I was really looking forward to this opportunity because it was within film, an industry I’d been trying to break into for almost two years since graduating. I remember coming across this scheme and applying thinking I won’t get it but I’m thankful I was wrong. I had promised myself during University that I would not get comfortable in a job I didn’t want to do, that I would keep on pushing myself to find something in the field I wanted. And finally something did come along. And though my goal is directing, I’m finding that working in distribution is equipping me with more knowledge about an area that is important in the industry.

Mississippi Grind
Mississippi Grind, one of many of eOne's titles released in the UK

Things I wish I could have told myself before I started the placement

  • Don’t always question whether or not you are capable of doing the job, you are.
  • There’s nothing wrong with asking questions if you’re confused and unsure about something. Even though you may feel like you are bothering your colleagues, it’s better to ask for help, that way they are able to explain things to you.
  • It’s okay to make mistakes: you’re new at this, and you’re not always going to get everything right. If a mistake is made, own up to it and find ways to rectify it.
  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
  • Don’t be afraid to approach others. That’s the only way you’re really going to build relationships with your colleagues.
  • Be patient.
  • Pen

The benefits of having a can-do attitude

There were a lot of times when I’d find myself running out of tasks and would often approach my line managers and ask them for more work. This was something my line managers would often praise me for in our one-to-one sessions. To them, it showed I was keen to learn and I don’t regret that one bit.

  • Colleagues feel comfortable approaching you for help.
  • You are constantly learning and improving your skills.
  • You are getting the most out of the scheme.
  • People will put you forward for certain tasks.
  • You’re not limited in the range of tasks you are carrying out.
  • Both you and your colleagues will feel confident in the work you carry out.
  • Improves your communication skills.
  • Strengthens your relationship with colleagues.
  • Opens doors for more responsibilities.

I remember when I first started this scheme and wondered whether or not I would benefit from it and I can say I definitely have. I’ve been lucky enough to work in an environment I feel comfortable and confident in. I feel like I’ve learnt a great deal about distribution and learnt the functions and processes of it. And through this experience I’ve learnt more about myself and my skills. I feel like all the experience I gained through this scheme will aid me not only as I continue in a new position at the same company but in the future too. I feel it has opened up new opportunities and I look forward to what’s next.

Four films to look out for at Autumn Screening Days

Posted Thursday 22 October 2015 by Duncan Carson in General

Our goal at Screening Days is to make sure you get a chance to see the best films so you can bring your audiences a diverse and unique programme. Here we highlight four films at our Autumn Screening Days event at Broadway that might not yet be on your radar, but are well worth seeking out.


Rams by Grímur Hákonarson (Soda Pictures)

Set in a remote Icelandic valley, two brothers Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) live on neighbouring sheep farms but haven’t spoken to each other for forty years. As disease looks set to threaten the health and ancient lineage of their beloved rams, the brothers are forced back into communication with each other... although not always verbally! A perfectly-formed piece of world cinema, and a beautiful study of the relationship between two brothers, emotional yet not sentimental with a wonderfully wry wit throughout. Writer and director Grímur Hákonarson puts his documentarian skills to good use, producing a naturalistic portrait of rural farm life and capitalising on the austere yet stunning landscapes. With the success of Of Horses and Men last year, I’m hoping this will usher in a new age of Icelandic cinema in the UK, with a deliciously dark sense of humour. Rural audiences will likely flock (sorry) to it as they did with Addicted to Sheep.
Becky Clarke

My Skinny Sister

My Skinny Sister by Sanna Lenken (Matchbox Films)

Partly drawing on her own experiences, writer-director Sanna Lenken’s debut focuses on the impact of a young woman’s eating disorder on her family, as observed through the eyes of her younger sister. Sparky and precocious 11-year-old Stella is still ‘body unaware’ while her older sister, a high-achieving and prize winning figure skater, secretly battles with an increasingly debilitating eating disorder. At its recent UK premiere at the London Film Festival, responses from teen girls were particularly passionate, and the film was earlier this year awarded the Crystal Bear in Berlin, in its Generation 14 Plus section. Rebekkah Johnson’s lead performance infuses its serious subject matter with warmth and humour giving the film an authentic and believable youth perspective. The film would play particularly well with secondary school age girls, providing an opportunity for young women to reflect on and share their own struggles with their body image. Suitable for ages 11 and up.
Jemma Desai


Departure by Andrew Steggall (Peccadilo Pictures)

The delicate debut of British filmmaker Andrew Steggall follows a precocious, dreamy teenager on the cusp of realising his sexuality while, simultaneously, his family life is coming apart at the seams. Alex Lawther (best known for playing the young Turing in The Imitation Game) gives a superb central performance as Elliott, who’s helping his mother Beatrice (Juliet Stevenson) – an uncertain, melancholic presence – pack up their holiday home in the south of France, in the notable absence of Elliott’s father. Meeting Clément, a French boy staying with his aunt, they wander through the leafy woods and form a tentative friendship, with an (at first) unspoken undercurrent of attraction. Meanwhile Beatrice attempts to connect with Elliott while wrestling with a crisis in her own interior world. Focusing his camera on Lawther and Stevenson both separately and together, Steggall investigates the paradoxical distance and closeness of their emotional states and reveals two characters on the brink of major change. It’s a tender, wistful film which will appeal to LGBT audiences as well as cinema-goers on the lookout for new British talent. Cinemas that found success with the likes of Lilting should strongly consider it, as the French setting and presence of Juliet Stevenson could garner a broader arthouse crowd than other LGBT films. 
Sarah Rutterford  

Here After

The Here After by Magnus von Horn (Soda Pictures)

The Here After is Swedish filmmaker Magnus von Horn's feature debut. Shot on film by Lucasz Zal (Ida), the result is a flickering, cold and restrained film about a teenage boy, John, who is released from youth detention back into the care of his father. It is unclear at first what crime John has committed, but it is one that has left him ostracised by his classmates and community. In this respect the film put me in mind of Vinterberg's The Hunt, but the narrative here is far more slow-burn, drip-feeding details and allowing sympathies to build throughout. A morally complex and brilliantly performed debut, Soda Pictures, who have released similar challenging work previously, seems like a fitting home for this chilling Swedish drama.
Jonny Courtney


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