Training Courses

The Business and Creativity of Programming Cultural Film


Cambridge Film Festival, Cambridge

Need to understand the practicalities of booking films?

Want to inject some creative flair into your film programme to take it beyond the mainstream?

Take a day out of your work schedule to gain the business and creative skills, knowledge and inspiration to secure the right films and create an exciting programme to get bums on seats. If you’re new to film programming, you’ll learn practical information to help you get started. If you’ve already got some film programming experience, you’ll return to work with fresh ideas and renewed confidence. If you’re working in a related job, you’ll leave with a stronger understanding of how programming works and where your role fits in.

Who is the course for?

Staff of independent cinemas, film festivals, non-traditional exhibitors and support agencies who want to develop their knowledge and understanding of film programming, whether they are working in a programming job themselves or a related role such as marketing, events, education, management or administration. Applicants should ideally have 3 years’ or more experience working in the film industry.




£100 + VAT = £120. Bursaries are available


Cambridge Film Festival

What will the course cover?

  • Researching films, clearing rights, negotiating terms, understanding figures
  • The implications of digital programming
  • How to get distributors on your side to secure the right films for your programme – including a Q&A with guest distributors
  • Creative strategies to produce a strong programme of films
  • How to inject the “wow” factor into your programme
  • What you need to know to screen films outside of a traditional venue context

The day will include presentations from programming experts, insider information, inspiring case studies, a practical exercise and group discussion. You will also have the opportunity to network with your peers from across the UK.

The course will take place during the 31st Cambridge Film Festival, which runs from 15th-25th September 2011.

Who are the speakers?

The course will be led by David Sin, Head of Cinemas at the Independent Cinema Office. From Derby’s Metro Cinema to the British Film Institute, where he was Head of Content Development, David has 20 years’ experience in all aspects of film exhibition and distribution. From 1998 – 2002 he was Director of Cinema at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and at other times he has worked variously as a Consultant, Festival Programmer and developed a range of ground-breaking rural film projects. He currently provides a film programming advice and bookings service to ten ICO client cinemas, including the National Media Museum (Bradford), Gulbenkian (Canterbury), Saffron Screen (Saffron Walden) and MAC (Birmingham).

Guest speakers will include:

  • Tony Jones, Director, Cambridge Film Festival
  • Ian Francis, Director, Flatpack Festival
  • Will Fowler and Vic Pratt, Curators, BFI Flipside
  • Dave Jarmain, Sales Manager, Universal Pictures
  • Colin Burch, Managing Director, Verve Pictures


£100 + VAT = £120. Fees include lunch and refreshments.

The real cost of a place on the course is £303, but the fees are being subsidised by Skillset for UK film industry professionals.

Bursaries are available towards fees, travel and childcare subsidies for people from not-for-profit film exhibition organisations with an annual turnover of £200K or less who would not otherwise be able to attend.

Booking your place

This course is now over.

Travel and accommodation

Emmanuel College is a 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive from Cambridge train station. From the station, walk up Station Road, turn right at the end onto Hills Road, which becomes Regent Street and then Saint Andrew’s Street. Emmanuel College is on the right opposite the entrance to Downing Street. Alternatively there are taxis available outside Cambridge station or you could take a bus to nearby Drummer Street.

Places to stay in Cambridge

Disabled access

The training room is on the second floor of the building, accessible by lift. Toilets are on the lower level. Please let the ICO know about any access requirements you have. We have an access fund for this course so will endeavour to provide for additional requirements (eg. alternate print formats, BSL signers…). Please give us as much notice as possible to make suitable arrangements.


This scheme has been funded by the Skillset Film Skills Fund as part of ‘A Bigger Future 2’, the UK film skills strategy. The Skillset Film Skills Fund is supported by the National Lottery through the BFI and the film industry through the Skills Investment Fund.

In partnership with Cambridge Film Festival.

“Brilliant. What ICO offers is indispensable in terms of accessing informed knowledge, experience and networking. Thank you.”

“Really helpful, I’ve gone away with a wealth of information and ideas to incorporate into my current work, both short-term and long-term projects.”

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