This case study was written by Jill Moody from Perth Film Society. Find out more about their great work and upcoming screenings here.

Perth Film Society started as a film society in 1999, but we changed much more recently to become more of a community cinema to get maximum benefit from working with our host organisation Horsecross Arts. They sell our tickets direct to any customers without the need for membership and there is no doubt that has boosted our sales and provides a regular income that helps their finances.  We changed our licensing arrangements as well, which has helped us access newer, edgier films that are increasing being distributed directly by small younger film makers, as opposed to using the larger distributors.

We’re hugely grateful for the support of Cinema For all. They’ve been a constant and ongoing source of great advice, training, and film choices. Their price reductions and film availability offers have really helped get us going again as we inch back from the pandemic, but they also helped us source and stream some films to support and entertain our lovely loyal audience during deepest, darkest lockdown.

Our programming process is fairly ad hoc. We tend to consider new releases, reviews, awards and personal requests/recommendations. We always try to have a breadth of art and foreign language films from as wide a range of countries as we can. Our aim has always been to give as many people as possible access to non-mainstream films that larger cinemas often don’t show.

Being closely involved with our community means a great deal to us. We’ve been encouraged by the support that we’ve had from so many local people who come regularly to watch our non-mainstream, world films. We’re lucky to have the support of a number of local businesses too, who are new and long term sponsors.  In return we advertise them and encourage our audience to shop locally. We’ve screened fundraisers for local organisations and charities such as Marie Curie, and Women’s Aid. We also work with our local Amnesty committee and International Women’s’ day events organisers to support them, as well as a range of local language clubs. Our screenings also add breadth to the portfolio of our hosts Horsecross Arts, where we also a regular income stream.

Probably our screening of “Nae Pasaran”, about the role of trade unionists at Rolls Royce in East Kilbride in stopping planes going back to Pinochet’s Chile. It really struck a chord with our Scottish Audience, it was or top selling film, and it has been voted most popular by our audience. Not only that, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house by the end ! It made us – the committee feel really proud of what we do.

Our advice to someone thinking about starting their own community cinema would be to for it! But be sure to network, and to seek help and advice when you need it. There’s lots of us out there happy to chat and share our methods and experiences.

For me personally cinema has long been a passion. I used to be a regular PFS attendee simply for the joy of watching great movies in good company. Once I retired, I found I had time that I could devote as a payback for the pleasure afforded by PFS over so many years. I love the kinship of our committee and of our audience. But above all I love the shared experience of watching films in the dark, on the full screen, just as they should be seen. If nothing else, the pandemic has reinforced the importance and value that for me.