Case Study: Adventures in Alternative Cinema

Adventures works with young people to broaden their understanding of what film and cinema can be. Young Programmers are discovering non-mainstream film and thinking about new ways to generate interest in trying something 'un-hollywood' as well as encouraging other young people to use their local, rural and part-time community cinema venues.

Project aims

  • Increased young people’s awareness of non-mainstream film and indie cinema sector

  • Ran film programming and screening environments R&D sessions

  • Organised 'go and see' visits: Future Film Festival, Flatpack Festival, ICO Screening Days

  • Created targeted brand development and marketing activity; delivered social media and crowd sourcing activity

  • Event management and customer services training

  • Secret shopping/ideas to make venues more inviting to younger people

  • Delivery of pop up, cinema, and event based screenings – at a range of locations

  • Scheme promotional activity, targeting young people, and the wider public – visits to schools and colleges.

  • Genre based film seminars: Introductions to: World Cinema, British Cinema, Artists Moving Image

  • Knowledge exchange with Film Hub members

  • Collaborated and shared knowledge with Freehand (YP group) @ FACT, Liverpool

  • Provided information, advice and guidance to new start up Young Programmer initiatives across the Film Hub North West Central area.


  • We established a partnership programme that supports work experience and apprenticeship opportunities that connect to Adventures and wider Young Programmer developments

  • Development of interactive “Introductions to” presentations that work really well for all ages

  • Development of promotional materials and activity, design by young people for young people

  • Development of different approaches to engage young people in programming

  • We developed a cohort of young people that continue to connect to local venues and programming opportunities

  • We promoted an ethos that encourages risk taking and sharing of passions


29 films screened in full, including: The Host, Withnail and I, Once, Golden Door, Everything is Illuminated, IDA, A Town Called Panic, Charlie’s Country, London A Modern Babylon, Boyhood, ’71, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, House, The Shining, Room, Song of the Sea, The Lobster.

Plus clips from many more as part of presentations / programming workshops:
From Scotland with Love, Of Time and The City, Local Hero, Kes, Wild Bill, The Long Day Closes, Pride, The Bigger Picture.

Key partnerships

Young Programmer activity supported by the HUB was initially delivered through an Urban/Rural partnership between Freehand (FACT, Liverpool) and Adventures (MediaActive, Shropshire). The partnership afforded knowledge exchange and sharing of resources and has been very positive for both parties. For year 3, Adventures is now supporting wider Young Programmer developments across the Hub area and we now have 4 schemes supported by the Hub, with others anticipated.
For Adventures, local partners have included Wem Town Hall (rural cinema venue), Borderlines Film Festival, The HIVE (youth arts venue), local schools and colleges, Theatre Severn, OMH Cinema.

Adventures now sits under our EXCITE programme that connects apprentices, work experience placements and interns to programming cinema. EXCITE is a partnership with local authority and local non arts organisations and has benefitted from investment by the regional bridge organisation Arts Connect.

Budget in brief

2014/15 Adventures programme cost £14,935, of which £10k was Hub funded, £2425 was in kind, £2510 cash match.
906 attendances for workshops and screenings = £16.48 per head,
Including eye to screen data for pop up activity @ 3000 = £3.82 per head.

What worked

  • Establishing a partnership programme that supports work experience and apprenticeship opportunities that connect to Adventures and wider Young Programmer developments.

  • Development of interactive “Introductions to” presentations that work really well for all ages and sizes of groups.

  • Development of a brand and promotional materials and activity, design by young people for young people.

  • Offering different approaches and levels of involvement to engage young people in programming – not “one size fits all” Offered: series of 2.5 hour after school workshops on weekly basis, 3 day intensive sessions, 1 hour programming workshop with schools /college groups, opportunities for work placements.

  • Continued liaison with young programmers cohort face to face, and remotely (enabling young people to stay connected /involved even when regular sessions are not running, or they can’t get to a session due to lack of transport (rural area)).

  • Go and see activity highly valued by young people.

  • Local cinema venue Wem Town Hall is now very supportive of any ideas that come from Adventures group, and they regularly ask for Adventures input.

What has been difficult

  • Not being able to run sessions year round – opportunity to engage tends to fluctuate.

  • Until Sept 2015 there was no university presence, so many young people tended to leave the area aged 18, creating a vacuum.

  • Have come to realise that funders and organisations expect young people to programme for young people, when in fact young people may well be interested in programming generally, for various target groups, and for the public.

  • Expecting young people to deliver younger audiences to venues is a big ask – especially considering that many full time programmers / key venues struggle to achieve this.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • If resources were available we would prefer to run a year round programme, that has better chance to build on success, respond to emerging opportunities and address weaknesses as needed.

  • We would also hope to support community venues in recruiting younger volunteers, to improve the perception of who the facility is open to (all ages, not just older people).

  • We would involve young people more in advocating on behalf of indie film and indie venues

Awareness / Attitudes

Adventures has supported young people to develop understanding of other cultures, has provided insight into life experiences beyond what is typically portrayed by Hollywood, and extended awareness of different filmmaking approaches and genres.

Adventures provides opportunities for young people to positively contribute to community focused provision in their locality – they are active citizens and able to value the contribution they make.

Adventures delivers skills development and work experience placements, and is part of our apprenticeship and internships programme. The programme is a key part of the new EXCITE scheme which has attracted investment and commitment from a range of new partners, including Shropshire Council, Arts Connect (the Bridge organisation), social housing providers and other partners.


Adventures delivers access to opportunities for young people in a very rural and under-served area.

We have provided opportunity for young people to engage in a variety of ways, and at a commitment level that works for their individual needs. We have sought to be inclusive and have recruited young people by going out to schools and colleges and community groups, and by press and social media campaign.

Through Adventures young people have had opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding of how the exhibition sector works (and the fact that it exists at all!) and explore approaches to audience development. They have developed new skills, and have improved their confidence by broadening their awareness of film and screening options and having chance to share their ideas and enthusiasms.

Knowledge & Experience

Adventures has provided opportunities for young people to learn about:

  • The breadth of film that is available – World Cinema and different genres – beyond the mainstream
  • Film archives and contemporary use of archive film
  • The selection criteria used by cinema programmers when choosing films
  • Licensing and financial viability
  • How the exhibition sector works
  • The varied environments / approaches possible for screening films
  • Approaches to branding and marketing
  • Customer services

Venues have benefitted from a younger persons perspective on:

  • What films might work best for young people
  • What films they’d like to see as part of the local offer
  • Pricing, branding, customer services, identifying barriers – how to make a venue and programme inviting

Social Cohesion

Wem Town Hall is a community venue, managed by a local trust, and run by a small staff team and large volunteer workforce (the majority of whom are older people). Adventures has developed an increased commitment from Wem Town Hall to young people and their involvement in what the community venue offers. As such, the voice of young people has been enhanced.

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