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Film London launches funding scheme to boost community cinema

Date posted: 29.01.2014

Are you frustrated by the lack of cinema provision in your area? Do you know of an underserved community that you could reach through film events? Got a good idea for local movie magic? Whether an established exhibitor or first time organiser, Film London's Community Screen Scheme could help you turn your plans into reality.   

The scheme is open for applications until 21 February. For the past few weeks Film London has been touring the capital hosting information days for those interested. 

Missed out? Fear not, here is all of the information you need.

What is the Community Screen Scheme?

Late last year Film Hub London opened its doors to members with the stated aim of improving cinema provision across the capital. Open to exhibitors big and small, the Hub is developing a community of film exhibitors in the city to help close the gaps in access to non-mainstream cinema.

Community initiatives are a vital part of this, and the Community Screen Scheme is there to help exhibitors develop projects in underserved areas or to engage underrepresented audiences.  

The aims of the scheme are to:

  • Increase the geographical spread of exhibition activity across London
  • Provide opportunities for sustainable community-led activity
  • Broaden the audience offer from commercial operators

A maximum of 11 projects will be funded with up to £3,000 and applicants also have the opportunity to use a Vue cinema for their events.

What makes a good community cinema initiative?

Industry experts joined Film London for information days about the Community Screen Scheme, offering guidance useful for newbies and experienced exhibitors alike.

If you've got an idea but aren't sure if it will work, Jim Dummett from touring cinema The Lost Picture Show has some great advice for ensuring it is a success:

  • Be eventy - make sure it's something different to what people can get at home
  • Be personal - you are the host and want audience to feel connected
  • Be targeted - think about your desired audience and don't try to appeal to everyone
  • Keep it small - Keep your event focussed and you will do it well
  • Connect - partnerships are key. Don't be afraid of getting people to help you
  • Don't forget to evaluate!

With a wealth of experience in organising community and education film events, Aoife Twomey from Chocolate Films offers brilliant insight into ensuring you get the audience you want:

  • Think about your location - choose one which best suits your programme
  • Tell people about it - develop a marketing strategy, think about posters, a press release, social media etc.
  • Don't just think film - what activities can you run to engage audiences beyond the screen?

Both experienced exhibitors emphasise the need to think carefully about the budget, not forgetting to include the cost of licensing films or producing promotional materials.

Sign up to the Exhibitors' Newsletter to find out about future information days

Top tips for applications

Interested? Both Jim and Aoife were also kind enough to share their top tips for applications. Here are the highlights:

  • Read the guidelines carefully and answer all the elements of the brief, paying close attention to the aims listed above.
  • Have a realistic budget, including promotional materials and food for volunteers
  • Build a strong case - try to have all of your participants and venues on board before sending in the applications. If you can, get letters of support.
  • Match funding or in kind support that can be agreed before applying will help your chances
  • Do your research, find appropriate partners and check what provisions already exist
  • Don't leave it until the last minute even a magnificent project can be let down by a rushed application

If you have any questions before submitting your application, please email

If you would like to discuss your project with an industry expert, come along to a half-hour Advice Surgery on Wednesday 5 February. Find out more and book a place

Otherwise, what are you waiting for? Apply for the Community Screen Scheme

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