Film programming is at the heart of what the Independent Cinema Office offers. Our goal is to provide your cinema with a programme of films that is distinctive and offers the best of world cinema, while ensuring that audiences grow and your site thrives financially.
Why ICO programming?
Making independent venues sustainable and thriving
Simply put, there’s no one in the business that knows more about growing audiences for a broader range of films. In 2016/2017, ICO client cinemas had over 850,000 admissions and total box office of £5.1 million.We work closely with cinemas to help them scope out new audiences and satisfy existing ones.
Putting film culture first
The ICO’s goal is to create a film culture that’s open, thriving and challenging. We want your cinema to be sustainable and also provide access to world cinema, documentaries and archive film from as broad a variety of voices as possible.
The ICO is supported by the BFI to help spread film culture. As a result, we’re able to offer subsidised rates to members of our programming network, meaning our expert advice is also highly affordable.
Because of the collective strength of our network, we are able to negotiate very competitive terms, helping your bottom lines. You’ll also benefit from the best of our services, including Screening Days, access to training and industry insight.
How do we work with cinemas?
Finding what works for your audience
Our team of programmers work closely with our clients to understand their needs and what people locally will respond to.
Working closely with distributors
The ICO has an excellent relationship with all distributors, large and small, as well as international sales agents. That’s one of the reasons why no one has better intelligence about upcoming releases and encyclopaedic knowledge of back catalogue rights.
Our goal is always to provide films that work best for your particular cinema. You are the expert on your audience, so the programming is always a conversation.
ICO can provide marketing copy and stills, helping lift the burden from your team.
ICO provides an invaluable service for independent cinemas. They are a one-stop shop into the film world with great contacts in distribution, archives, festivals and film agencies. Most of all though their staff provide excellent, up-to-date, critically informed opinions which help inform your own decision making.
Cinema Curator, Watershed
Who do we work with?
Leading independent cinemas
We work with some of the largest independent cinemas in the UK, including Watershed in Bristol, Showroom Workstation in Sheffield and Broadway in Nottingham, helping make sure they get the best of world cinema.
Mixed arts venues
If film is only part of your cultural offer, we can help you complement your full artistic programme. We work with mixed arts venues as varied as JW3 in London and Malvern Theatres.
We programme the UK’s largest rural film festival, Borderlines, helping secure exclusive festival previews and connect with the international film festival circuit.
Meet our Programming Team
About our clients
We work in partnership with our clients to help them create unique, commercially viable film programmes that appeal to the most diverse possible range of local audiences. Our team draws on decades of experience to create bespoke programmes for cinemas encompassing the latest blockbusters, arthouse cinema, archive content and artists’ moving image work.
ICO programming has changed the nature of Borderlines, racking up the stakes for this rural film festival so that it can compete with metropolitan equivalents in terms of the freshness and variety of what it can offer its audiences. And those audiences, living in one of the most isolated and under-populated parts of the country, show their full appreciation.
Marketing Manager, Borderlines Film Festival
About our screening days
We strongly believe that the most successful cinemas and film societies are those where staff have the opportunity to watch films and feel passionate about them. To this end, the ICO runs national Screening Days events, a staple in the independent cinema calendar giving exhibitors the chance to watch the best upcoming film releases from across the globe and discuss them with industry peers; enabling you to go away and create incredible programmes.
Being able to see a film makes a huge difference when it comes to programming and for programmers, who work in the regions and who can never get to the regular distributor screenings in London, ICO Screening Days are the most invaluable connection with upcoming releases.
Screening Days delegate
More services we offer
The ICO is widely acknowledged as the leading consultancy service for establishing and growing cinemas. The ICO offers a fee-based consultancy service to cinemas, individuals, business people, arts organisations, local authorities, interest groups and others looking to develop a new independent cinema or assess and improve an existing one.
Training and professional development
We organise inspirational training courses and professional development opportunities around the UK and internationally on audience development, digital marketing, management skills, film festival development and much more. In addition to our open courses we also offer bespoke training for organisations and individual one-to-one sessions.