We spoke to Glow participants, Sheffield based Kelham Island Film Club, about starting up, their experience on our coaching programmes and what community cinema means to them.

What inspired you to start your own community cinema?

When a previous community cinema in the same venue ceased to operate, the owner of the pub came to us knowing that we had a love for cinema and a decent knowledge of films and asked if we wanted to start one and replace the old one. Some of us had studied film at college and university, but have gone on to pursue careers completely separate from that, so this is a way for us to revisit that part of our lives and utilise the knowledge we gained. It’s also just a bit of fun and we pretty much show the films that we want to watch

How do you decide which films to programme?

We actually have a lot of fun doing this. As I mentioned before, we pretty much just show the films that we want to see. We tend to do a themed season each month and pick movies that we believe epitomise that theme or genre. There’s a lot of choices made with the intention to show our audience something they may not have seen before, which will either educate, surprise or even shock them. Films we think will ‘wow’ them.

How have your screenings positively effected your community?

The venue itself already had quite a decent local following as it’s a great bar. This helped set up our demographic from the get go, but as the last year has gone on, we’ve seen many new people joining for various events who may not have been before. It being held in a bar does give it a slightly informal vibe, which encourages people to tick around and chat after the film is over, discussing it over a pint. Not only are they getting the movie night experience, they’re meeting like minded people in a community led space, and discvovering a new place they can come back to time and time again. Whether it’s for a film or just to meet up with friends.

How did Glow help support your community cinema?

Glow has helped us to realise where we can make some improvements in the running of the whole thing. Whether it’s the equipment, our relationship to our audience or seeking further funding. All the things we learnt will really help advise us on how we further enhance the experience for everyone, while making it profitable enough to ensure we can keep going! We’ve worked through a list of ideas which we will be implementing in the new year based off the back of what we’ve learnt.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for Cinema For All coaching?

My main advice would be to do it. It was really helpful and a lot of what you learn will inform the way you run the cinema Go in open minded and be ready to accept where you’re going wrong but also take encouragement from what you’re doing right. It was very encouraging for us to come across certain things that were in the training that we were already doing, making us feel like we were on to something. At the same time, seeing things that we could be better, we took onboard as something like constructive criticism – the ways we can make an already great thing even better.

Tell us about what community cinema means to you.

To us, community cinema is a place to hang out with some mates and watch a ridiculous film you love, or maybe haven’t seen before. A place to learn something and explore other peoples ideas – whether it’s from the film itself or the opinions of other patrons you’ve met on the night. Somewhere to sit back and immerse yourself in a shared experience. It’s also a safe space you can come for a fraction of the price of mainstream cinemas with a focus on accessibility, encouraging all walks of like to attend and creating a community over this shared interest of cinema.