At the 2016 Community Screen Forum (CSF; see previous blog post), colleagues from community cinema networks agreed that there needed to be better information-gathering by the sector, and a better idea of the landscape and potential of community cinema.
Over the following year, representatives from North East Arts Touring, Driftwood Cinema, Indy Cinema Group and Open Cinema were convened by Creative Scotland, and a bid launched to Interface, which facilitates collaborations between research institutes and commercial or public sector organisations. The bid was successful!
Work began, with researchers at the University of Aberdeen and software architects at the University of Aberdeen. Open Cinema was funded separately by Creative Scotland (now Screen Scotland) to create an API of its digital platform for community cinema.
This July the first version saw the light of day, for now internally. We have mapped the locations and screening activity of 87 community and independent cinemas in Scotland. Once the project reaches the end of the funding period this September, project partners are seeking to develop the software into a listings app for community cinema in Scotland - something delegates at this year's CSF were also unanimous in calling for!
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.Continue reading
In 2005, when the first Open Cinema (then Open House Film Club) screening took place, community cinema wasn't really a 'sector'. Beyond the British Federation of Film Societies (now Cinema for All), it was more of a backwater of cinema, with local enthusiasts undauntedly keeping alive the flame of projected film.
Since then, an emphatic flourishing of organisations, programming, and audiences has taken place. Over thirty organisations were present at this year's forum, the majority representing a local, regional or national network of community screens, plus researchers, enthusiasts, and a Japanese cinema architect.
There were keynote presentations by Stephen Follows on data, and Michael Pierce on Scalarama (coming round again this September) and reinventing organisations. Dr Stuart Hanson from de Montford University presented research on the contribution of cinema to local economies - including fascinating nuggets such as that cinemas on high streets make people walk instead of drive, and support local shops instead of chains.Continue reading
Open Cinema Finland is live! After four years of development, a great launch of the franchise in Helsinki on 6 June gathered stakeholders from the film, community and education sectors, all excited by the beginning of a new framework for cultural inclusion across Finland. A screening of the award-winning, autism-focused documentary My Secret Forest was followed by a remarkable Q&A with its subject and star, Lauri, and with its producer Sara-Helena Rawat. Open Cinema founder Christoph was also on hand - after a customary smoke sauna and sea swim - to introduce the origins and some future directions for this network of distributed innovation. Kiitos!
We've been approached by the CCT to help report on their impact to communities, funders, policy makers and the public. Working once again with Liverpool-based filmmaker Paul James Furlong of Opus Media, as well as filmmakers in Ipswich and London, our production office is at work on a film to help this vital community cause. More on this thread to follow...Continue reading
Former prime minister Sir John Major made a formidable intervention on Brexit in a speech hosted by the Creative Industries Federation at Somerset House today. In the audience was our CEO Christoph Warrack, who asked the following question: "At the moment it seems as though every time a risk of leaving the European Union is highlighted, it simply strengthens the resolve of those committed to doing so. Do you think that the collective creative skills of those represented here could be doing more to describe the risks and opportunities of leaving and remaining?" Major responded that yes, "its important that captains of industry do more to speak up".Continue reading
Here's the line-up of our office premises so far
- Durham Yard, Bethnal Green: September - December 2009
- 50 Frith Street, Soho: January - July 2010
- Swan Mead, Bermondsey: August - October 2010
- 8 Hoxton Street, Hoxton: October 2010 - March 2011
- 10-16 Scrutton Street, Shoreditch: March 2011 - March 2014
- Sawmill Lane, Helmsley: March 2014 - September 2015
- Impact Hub Westminster, Westminster: September 2015 - January 2018
And now, we are thrilled to have moved to the mighty Somerset House, home to over 300 creative businesses after occupation by the Royal Navy (we are in the former cartographer's room) from the 1770s to the 1920s; and by the Inland Revenue from then until they were finally evicted by John Major (who we actually met in our first week here!) in the early 1990s after an outcry from the creative industries about the waste - it was by then only one third occupied and the great courtyard which now alternately hosts gigs, screenings, a fountain and an ice rink, was a car park - of these precious central London asset. The team now rubs shoulders with a cloud of creative innovators and socially minded ventures.Continue reading
After 18 months of discussions facilitated by Creative Scotland's head of education Scott Donaldson, among member organisations of the Community Screen Forum, this month we received funding from Creative Scotland to develop an API (application programme interface) for our community cinema CRM (customer relationship manager). Lost you? It gets better...
Funding agency Interface, who facilitate action research projects between universities and businesses, convened the project at the instigation of Creative Scotland, to create Community Cinemap, a platform mapping and empowering community exhibitors in remote parts of Scotland. More on this thread to follow...Continue reading
Last night the Open Cinema film club at St Mungo’s Recovery College Rushworth St welcomed boxer, writer and actor Johnny Harris for a very special screening of his incredible film Jawbone (dir. Thomas Napper, 2017). People using St Mungo’s services from all across London filled the screening room and made a fantastic atmosphere for what was a memorable night.
Jawbone tells the story of former youth boxing champion Jimmy McCabe (Johnny Harris), a man in search of hope but looking in all the wrong places. When he hits rock bottom he turns to his childhood boxing club and the only family he has left: gym owner Bill (Ray Winstone) corner man Eddie (Michael Smiley) and promoter Joe (Ian McShane). Back in training, years after anyone thought he was a contender, he risks his life, as he tries to stand tall and regain his place in the world.
In the Q&A Johnny revealed that the film is heavily auto-biographical. Johnny dropped out of school at 13 and fell into homelessness and addiction but was also a champion boxer. He was so open and generous during a Q&A that lasted over an hour, discussing addiction, recovery and the challenges of writing, making and starring in this amazing film. As Emily Catlow, the coordinator of recovery college, said after the screening: ‘It was such a great evening and I am very sure that [Johnny] connected with and inspired every single person in that room. It was the highlight of the Recovery College term and will be talked about for years to come’.
As with all Open Cinema events the screening became about so much more than the thrill of meeting a star of the screen. It was all about connecting over shared experiences and a shared enthusiasm for the power of film to highlight all the struggles, challenges and joy of life. Jawbone and the discussion that followed highlighted the incredible struggles people go through and the heroism of those go out of their way to help and support others. There were many powerful and cathartic moments in the film and the post-film discussion. We’d like to extend a special thanks to Johnny, listening to everyones questions, stories and opinions.
We’d also especially like to thank everyone who attended for being such a great audience! Johnny commented many times that the questions being asked were fantastic. As we look forward to 2018, we can’t wait for many more evenings like last Wednesday.
Will Swinburne, Open Cinema Network Manager
Our founder Christoph Warrack flew to Northern Ireland to present on the role and meaning of ambition in social enterprise.
Hosted by the international youth empowerment funder Youthbank, a range of speakers brought energy and dynamism to the audience of young and hungry innovators, including through a series of creative exercises exploring practical solutions to pervasive social challenges.
There isn't another gathering like This Way Up for UK cinema exhibitors. A long way from CineEurope, the UKCA conference, Cinema For All or the Distributor Slate Day, TWU met its fourth year in Hull, during the city-encompassing UK City of Culture celebrations.
The sector is full of good people working hard to bring great cinema to audiences of every shape, size and geography. Hosted by the incomparably genial James Mullighan (Shooting People, EIFF, Cork FF), the conference saw terrific presentations from Jenny Sealey MBE of disability champions Graeae Theatre Company on equality, Together Films' Sarah Mosses on the uses of social media technology, and a laudably frank and forthright Simran Hans of the Guardian on ethics in cinema.
Release windows and e-Cinema remained firmly among topics that shall not be broached. And the UK's broadband infrastructure was roundly derided as a disgrace to an advanced economy and a major impediment to the democratisation of cinema. We also got the chance to meet the team at Cinegi, with whom we're now firm friends.
You can watch films of each of the two conference days here, and above is a picture of second-to-none exhibition ninjaMosses at work.
Open Cinema was approached earlier this summer to produce a film by Julienne Lam and Sallyann Tingle. Graduates of LSE's masters programme on the psychology of social entrepreneurship, the duo sought to bring to a wider audience the stories of determination and impact which characterise the social entrepreneur's journey. More on this thread to follow...Continue reading
The second screening of the participatory film Havens which we produced with Macmillan participants, each with experience of cancer and mental health challenges, was in the plush surroundings of the main screening room at international visual effects studio Double Negative.
After a screening of D Neg's promo reel, featuring their work for movies including Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ex Machina, Havens was presented, after which a panel of skills leaders discussed routes into the film industry for those from more diverse backgrounds.
Speakers included D Neg VFX Producer Melinka Thompson-Godoy; Tim Hunter, head of education at BAFTA; Janey de Nordwall, director of marketing industry awards hosts British Arrows; and James Weddup from the BFI Film Fund.Continue reading
After 12 weeks of workshops, peer mentoring and creative devising, participants on the Macmillan / Mental Health Foundation / Open Cinema filmmaking programme proudly presented their film, "Havens", to a packed Blue Room at BFI Southbank.
Presented as part of National Inclusion Week and with support from Access VFX, this powerful short film explored the strategies for survival and growth of those experiencing both cancer and challenges to their mental health.
Following the screening, participant filmmakers contributed to a Q&A also featuring representatives from Macmillan Cancer Support and the Mental Health Foundation.Continue reading
Our CEO Christoph participated in a panel on Worldviews at Work as part of Ten Years After The Crash, a whole-day event at the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce in London. Other contributors to the day included former chancellor Ed Balls, former Downing Street communications director Alistair Campbell, and commentators Martin Wolf and Robert Peston.
Also on the Worldviews panel, moderated by Goldsmith University's Maria Power, were Paula Vennells, CEO of the Post Office, and Asif Sadiq MBE, head of diversity and inclusiveness at EY.
We were thrilled to be asked to present at the beautifully-organised Video for Good conference at Google UK HQ in London's Kings Cross.
Our presentation was on participatory video, and how charities can use the method to engage both supported people and staff in a creative process exploring issues of shared importance.
While at Google we were given a tour of their YouTube studios, where were impressed to find diverse local students and community members making free use of their world-class media facilities.
You can view the slides from the presentation here.Continue reading
In the lead-up to our presentation of the Macmillan / Mental Health Foundation film at the BFI in National Inclusion Week 2018, we joined the working group of Access VFX, a grouping of world-leading visual effects and animation studios seeking to make their recruitment practices as inclusive and reflective of diversity as possible. As one Oscar-winning employer remarked, "the more diversity, the more talent". More on this thread to follow...Continue reading
This month our filmmaker Paul James Furlong completed work for Power to Change on This is Liverpool, a film exploring the remarkable stories of community business success in the city.
These are stories of community groups who have not stood by while urban decay progresses where state and private business have failed, but taken ownership and management into their own and their communities' hands. Organisations covered included Granby Four Streets, The Baltic Triangle, Homebaked, The Florrie and Alt Valley Trust.
You can read a blog here on the topic by Mark Gordon, Communications Director at Power to Change, the national lottery fund for community business, for whom Open Cinema has been producing a series of impact and advocacy films. The completed film can be watched here.Continue reading
Representing Open Cinema International, the foundation's technology company, our CEO Christoph was in the audience of a talk at The RSA in London by MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson.
The focus was his new book, Machine, Platform, Crowd, co-authored with Andrew McAfee, about the history, current state and future potential of technology for individuals and communities. The binaries the book presents are between Mind and Machine, Product and Platform, Individual and Crowd, and it suggests a balance between each each is vital amid a general shift from former to latter in each category.
In the Q&A, Christoph asked the author if a tendency towards monopoly in technology economies was innate, and whether instead a gearing towards inclusive economy could be sought. Brynjolffson did not, in Christoph's view, provide a satisfactory answer, suggesting that societies were the net winners even from tech monopolism.
An extract from the talk can be seen here.Continue reading
This month we commenced a six month funded mentoring programme with Black Country Touring, who bring professional theatre and dance to local communities across the Black Country and West Midlands of the UK. They are increasingly offering community cinema, and will be consulting Open Cinema for the rest of this year on methods of participatory delivery and impact reporting.Continue reading
On 9 July, members of the Open Cinema team were present for a community screening of "Tomorrow", a French, crowd-funded documentary on local solutions to the environmental crisis. 30 local people attended the event at the Best Western Hotel in Tiverton, Devon, and after a screening a lively debate about next steps ensued.
We encouraged the organisers to propose a screening for the Tiverton Town Council, which subsequently took place, with channels of communication now active between event organisers Tiverton Area Communities Transition and councillors with responsibility in these areas.
The trailer of the film can be seen here.
By OC CEO Christoph warrack
I pulled the short straw and flew to Helsinki last week for meetings with the Open Cinema Finland team!
followed by a drive to Sodankyla, passing my first reindeer friends
for three days at the fabled Midnight Sun Film Festival.
Founded by the late Peter von Bagh with Aki Kaurismakï, and now in its 32nd year, the festival has hosted filmmakers including Francis Coppola, Agnes Varda, Victor Erice, Werner Herzog, Abbas Kiarostami, and many others intrepid enough to make the trip, all rewarded by the other-worldly light of Lapland at this time of year.
The sun doesn't set over the festival, so the screenings - of hand-picked Finnish, new international and archive cinema continue through the night. The undisputed highlight was a presentation of the 1925 "Phantom of the Opera" with a barnstorming Lon Chaney as the Phantom, and a live orchestral score.
We were staying with friends of OC Finland CEO Jaana Merenmies, at the forested lodge of the chief medical office of Lapland. After a long day at the festival, dinner would start at around midnight, followed by a sauna and then a walk across the rose-lit hilltops.
I'm looking forward to the office draw to visit Midnight Sun in 2018...
Three years after a presentation (on 'distributed innovation') at the European Social Franchising Network Conference in Gothenburg, Open Cinema is thrilled to announce the launch of our first country-level franchise: Open Cinema Finland. Working with a great team led by experienced social entrepreneur Jaana Merenmies, the first venues will be launching in Helsinki in early 2018, followed by further sub-franchise venues and networks.
As it celebrates its first hundred years, Finland has a hard-won international reputation for social equity and innovation. We are extremely proud to be launching our first franchise in this wooded Nordic country of 5.5m and 100k lakes, where - our favourite fact of 2017 - there are more saunas than cars!
On 1 April - and easily distinguishable from some of the excellent April Fool's jokes this year - the Guardian published a letter from Christoph on the health of UK cinema exhibition, written in response to a letter (here) from the CEO of the UK Cinema Association, Phil Clapp.
We await Phil's response...
Read Christoph's letter here.
Open Cinema is one of the judges on the film section of this year's Deutsche Bank DBACE awards for creative enterprise. Winners to be announced in April....
Open Cinema this month launches new community cinemas at the St Mungo's Recovery College and at Evolve Housing in Bromley. Ed Stoppard (The Pianist, Upstairs Downstairs) was on hand to help launch Open Cinema Bromley, presenting short film Mate and chatting to members about acting for video games, and how to take the first steps into the industry. Later in the month we'll be opening a groundbreaking community cinema at the St Mungo's Recovery College. More on this to follow...
Great news reached us from GHP Pharma in Australia where we'd won two awards in the international Social Care Awards 2017, for Social Enterprise Communications Excellence, and for Best Media for Development Company 2017. Thanks to everyone who nominated us and to the panel at GHP. This one goes out to our communities!Continue reading
Following the film we made to celebrate the launch of the Power to Change Institute (you can watch it here), Open Cinema has made two more films for the community business-focused lottery fund, and has four more in production. We'll post links to these as they're released.
This month also sees the publication of the Institute's report on the Community Business Market. The report was composed by researchers at Social Finance, and we contributed data and analysis along with colleagues at Bigger Picture Research and Arts Council England. You can find more on the report over on our Impact page.Continue reading
The Open Cinema has bagged the top RSA Scaling Catalyst Award, from a competitive field of over 30 fast-growing social enterprises. Worth £10,000, the award has helped us develop the new foundation website (launching soon, with support from the amazing Assemble), and co-author a bid with a lottery fund to create a national network of community businesses. We'll be blogging in December about the work the award has supported, and look forward to seeing it boost our impact in 2017 and beyond.
Over thirty peer organisations who work with the arts to improve the lives of homeless people met at Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to share ideas, experience, fellowship and plans. The project has emerged from the Homeless Link-led Get Creative (download report here) to whose advisory committee Open Cinema was a contributor. We look forward to the next quarterly meeting, to welcoming new members, and fostering a national and international movement of arts/homeless practicioners.
St Mungo's in Chancery Lane, London, have been running a season called How to Chane the World, featuring classics like Dr Strangelove, Big, and the 3hr 30mins Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. But the centrepiece took place on August 29 when Grierson-winning director Jerry Rothwell (Deep Water, Town of Runners) appeared to introduce and discuss his documentary history of Greenpeace, the Sundance-winning How to Change the World, which opened Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2015. Our regulars, some of whom remembered the first actions Greenpeace took to stop whaling and artic drilling, engaged Jerry in conversation about the film, the season, and the world.
On 4 July, the BFI hosted the first Open Cinema Digital Pathways Showcase. 60 delegates from over 20 organisations watched four short films from two groundbreaking new 'tech inclusion' programmes on which Open Cinema has been working with partners including the Tinder Foundation, Homeless Link, Evolve Housing + Support, Richmond-upon-Thames College, Living Networks, and with support from funders the Big Lottery Fund and Cisco Systems.
A panel made up of leaders from these organisations engaged in lively discussion of the issues of digital skills and an inclusive economy with an audience of programme participants and other invited guests following the screenings. Refreshments were served to an electronica soundtrack and much constructive hobnobbing took place.Continue reading
George Bageya, our outstanding cinema and peer mentoring coordinator at the Evolve Open Cinemas in Stockwell and Croydon won the Apprentice of the Year award for the London region in the Chartered Institute of Housing's Housing Heroes Awards. He then went on to win the national award at the annual ceremony in Manchester on 27 June. The award was presented by broadcaster and former member of parliament Gyles Brandreth. Hats off to George!
Open Cinema's latest Enterprise Film Programme - training young people excluded from education, work and training in life, media and enterprise skills, launched at Cisco Systems in Feltham, in partnership with Living Networks. The programme runs for 12 weeks, and offers participants the opportunity to graduate to a paid, accredited, three-year apprenticeship at Cisco Systems.
Work created through this and the Reboot UK programme (see this page next month) will be showcased at BFI Southbank on 4 July 2016. To attend, please email email@example.com.Continue reading
Open Cinema International's new digital platform for community cinema powered its first ticketed screening, at the Impact Hub Westminster. Ping Pong (2012), directed by Anson and Hugh Hartford, tells the story of eight participants of the World Over 80s Table Tennis Championships. The screening was preceded by an exhibition match - and open challenge! - by members of the Veterans English Table Tennis Society (VETTS), and followed by a Q&A with the players and producer Beadie Finzi.
On 15 March, The Royal Institute of Arts Manufacturing and Commerce held a packed gathering on the ultra-live topic of the sharing economy. OC CEO Christoph Warrack was there to present on Open Cinema as a sharing economy platform alongside great social ventures Lend and Tend, LiftShare, Library of Things and GrubClub. The RSA's senior researcher in the economy, enterprise and manufacturing team Brhmie Balaram was there to summarise research they have recently published (here) into developments in this area.
OC International is currently raising its seed equity round, and was glad this month to confirm Creative England as the first investor, through its Strategic Partnerships Fund, with funds originating in the BFI Lottery Film Fund.
Open Cinema, a supported venture on the Business in the Community arc programme, was featured in a showcase to celebrate the creation of 1,000 jobs through the programme. During the event, HRH the Prince of Wales stopped to ask our CMO Ben Hirsch about our work, the kind of centres we work in and the pricing we're able to offer community members, and concluded that our work was "fantastic".
The Key Fund have published their Impact Report for 2015, which discloses a record-breaking year of lending to social businesses, and the fact they are now the UK's biggest social investor by deal volume. Open Cinema was supported by the Key Fund through the Dotforge Impact accelerator, and was subsequently the recipient of second-stage investment by the fund. You can view or download the report here, and the feature on OC on pp23-4.
At a glittering ceremony on 24 September, a brilliant, multi-field team of lawyers from international practice Latham & Watkins LLP's London office have been awarded the top Lawyer of the Year award for their work with Open Cinema. Hyo Joo Kim, Aoife McCabe, Katie Peek and Frances Stock were honoured for their focused and complex guidance of the evolution of Open Cinema over a two-year period from a non-profit structure to a group comprising a charitable foundation and a for-profit digital company. Open Cinema will be presenting at their office in the City of London in late October on the latest developments and the impact the collaboration has had.
Non-stop action at OC HQ this month. Christoph signed the Founders Pledge at Founders Forum, committing 5% of personal revenues from any future exit to frontline development causes. We also presented on Open Cinema's participatory filmmaking programmes at the international Visual Methods Conference in Brighton. Later OC took part in a social innovation brainstorm hosted by the brilliant Swarm for Macmillan.
The summer of 15 has been spent building the team, further developing the forthcoming digital platform, and preparing our first international market entries (beyond the UK and Ireland). We've been receiving amazing support on these developments from the Impact Hub Scaling Programme.
At the conclusion of the Dotforge Impact accelerator, Open Cinema was one of ten ventures presenting prototype platforms to investors at the super-swish London headquarters of Bloomberg. Subsequently Open Cinema received a seed funding commitment from the social investor The Key Fund.
Open Cinema was at Digital Shoreditch 2015 in May to present to an audience of 200 on our plans to help democratise cinema. The 10 minute talk by CEO Christoph Warrack, entitled "Anywhere is a Cinema, Cinema Can Be Anything", can be seen here.