Lesson Number 1 : It’s not simple !
Not having any previous experience we soon discovered that putting on a show is quite a complex affair. It doesn’t just happen on the night – in fact advance work on the next show starts even before the previous one has finished. This is some of what’s involved :
All of our shows have to be legal – which can means a number of different licenses. We book our films with a company called FilmBank Media who represent many of the major Hollywood and independent film studios. Every film we show has a “Single Title Screening License”. Although the cost varies depends on the value of tickets sold there is a “minimum fee” which is our biggest single expense. Regardless of whether one person turns up to the film or fifty, this is the minimum we pay so we need to sell a reasonable number of tickets just to cover this cost.
We also need a license to sell alcohol on “Film Thursday”. We have to apply for this “Temporary Event Notification” (TEN) from Basildon Council Licensing Authority at least 10 working days in advance of the show. Copies are also have to be sent to the Environmental Health Services and Essex Policing Licensing Unit. This costs £21 – the equivalent of just over 4 tickets !
One of the biggest challenges we face is getting information to people around Billericay. Each show is advertised in advance on our Facebook page, Twitter and Streetlife and we have a newsletter which goes out once a month letting people know the latest news or when tickets are available (to signup click here) where we are building up a core of support. We advertise our events in the Library and some of our volunteers have recently been delivering programme listings to streets around where they live. But this still only gets to a small section of our Community – we’re looking at ways that we can spread the word further ! This is very time consuming – and we have to be very creative !
Being a not-for-profit, community organisation we are totally reliant on volunteers. We have to plan our shows based around which volunteers are available and which areas they’ll be covering – which includes Front of House Setup (setting up the screen, chairs, moving furniture, fixing the blackout blinds), Catering (selling refreshments, cooking popcorn) and Projection (running the film sequences). If you would like to help, we’d love to see you – either let us know on a film night, or email info@BillericayCine.com
There’s a lot that goes into getting the film sequences right. Each film we have a rolling sequence of information adverts which can change – local sponsors, which Community group we are featuring that week, information on the next shows. Each of these images has to be created and slotted into the sequence.
Then there’s deciding a point where to have our interval. A suitably dramatic point, roughly halfway through the film needs to be identified (how many minutes and seconds in) and documented in detail (character x does this, character y does this) so our Projectionist knows exactly where to stop the film
Prior to each film we identify what replacement stocks we need and buy them. This can be anything from short-life items such as milk for our tea/coffee, soft drinks, snacks or stock up on cases of beer from Billericay Brewing Company. Each show we analyse what we have sold (what sold well, what didn’t sell) to identify any changes we need to make.
This is just a brief summary : it does give you an idea of some of the activities we do before each show (there’s another long list for what we do on each show day – and yet another of post-show activities !) – but it’s actually quite a bit more complex that this, because with two shows a month, quite often we’re in the advance stages of planning for one show, late stages of planning for another, running a third and sorting out all the paper work of one that’s just finished.
If you have any comments, questions, or feedback (positive or negative – we want to improve !) feel free to use the contact form below.