When cinema isn't cinema (and who programmes it anyway?)

It seems our opening provocations this morning really got people thinking – it’s been a lively day with plenty of debate and discussion. In the Electra, our Alternative Content (When is a cinema not a cinema?) session kicked off the afternoon’s proceedings with a lot of talk about whether it might be killing off traditional cinema. Thoughts? Our panel’s, as summed up by Picturehouse Cinemas’ Marc Allenby, were that alternative content is not a bad thing for cinema, just as Netflix is not a bad thing for cinema. The popularity of alternative content/platforms means people are hungry, and cinemas don’t need to rely on exclusivity – they just need to make film exciting.

Talking specifically about events like National Theatre Live, (which over the past few years has gained a huge following in the cinema) and the prospect of events like live video gaming on the big screen, it’s clear that audiences certainly find alternative content exciting – although it has to be said, big screen video gaming was a big opinion splitter – would it be boring for those who weren’t actually playing? Would it be ‘cinematic’ enough? Or would it be a fantastic stimulating experience for an audience that aren’t would be dissatisfied with a standard film screening?

What do you think?

In the Electra’s second afternoon session (Your eyeballs in my pockets: Who controls what we exhibit?), we talked programming, control, and touched on Philip Foxwood and Michael Pierce’s question from this morning; can anyone be a programmer?

Well, can they? And if so, what does it mean for the role of a programmer in film exhibition? We heard from our panel and audience alike as they discussed everything from distribution (are there too many films or two few cinemas?), if personal taste matters (Die Hard, anyone?), and the skill and experience needed to be a programmer (you wouldn’t say ‘anyone can be a surgeon’…) as well as the many amazing examples of highly successful film festivals, community cinemas and regular pop-up screenings run by individuals or communities who decided to do it themselves.

Overall, a good and highly interesting day had by all. Now time to network (party) – check back in tomorrow for Day 2 and more exhibition innovation from us. In the meantime, we're on Twitter @thiswayupcon #thiswayup14.

Newcastle 2014TWU Team