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...
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".
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.
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...
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...
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.
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.