An Indian Summer ran 3 Outdoor Cinema events safely with 520 attendees across the Midlands after a hiatus of not running live events for over 1.5 years due to the pandemic. It was a momentous moment for them to reconnect with audience in Leicester and Birmingham.
Re-connect audiences with An Indian Summer’s Outdoor Cinema screenings in the Midlands.
Due to the pandemic, An Indian Summer were unable to organise screenings last year so this project was about relaunching their South Asian film activity in Leicester and Birmingham.
Target Admissions / Beneficiary Numbers: 800
Actual Admissions / Beneficiary Numbers: 520
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
The Jungle Book
Budget in brief
£10,000 from the Film Exhibition Fund
£1,800 box office
An Indian Summer ran their first ticketed campaign, selling 690 seats at £3.50 per person to help make the event sustainable for the future. They were really pleased that all 3 screenings sold out within 2 weeks
They established two exciting new partnerships in the East and West Midlands - the Jewellery Quarter BID in Birmingham (supporting with building a partnership with Birmingham City Council) and BID Leicester (supporting with in-kind event infrastructure).
The project has helped An Indian Summer to further extend their Outdoor Cinema experience in Leicester with a new event in partnership with Phizzical, UK Asian Film Festival and LCB Depot. Continuing to deliver regular world cinema events in the Midlands is their long-term ambition.
An Indian Summer engaged more Pakistani communities than ever before. In the past, they have largely engaged Indian audiences (over 70% of attendees) so this is a great achievement in terms of extending our diverse reach within the South Asian community.
They successfully delivered the UK’s first Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 3 city tour, screening the longest-running Hindi film of all time, with a historic 1,274-week run at Mumbai's Maratha Mandir Theatre. Sony TV supported their third screening in London’s Boxpark Wembley.
What has been difficult
During their first event in Leicester, An Indian Summer had to cancel the cinema screening due to technical issues with the LED screen. This was incredibly disappointing for the team and audiences as it is the first time they have had to cancel a live event. The company hired were having issues with individual display panels on the screen and after attempting to fix the issue on-site, they were forced to inform audiences that the screening would not go ahead.
They were encouraged that audiences were very understanding. Everyone who bought a ticket was refunded and were informed that they will receive a free ticket to An Indian Summer event. Since then, An Indian Summer have booked a screen at Phoenix in Leicester for audiences to watch the film in the city’s independent cinema. The replacement event will be funded by Sony TV and we will be screening Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge with free popcorn.
The second two screenings went ahead very well. On day two of the screenings in Leicester, the tech company brought in a replacement LED screen. Due to complications at the first event, An Indian Summer decided to work with a new company for Birmingham, which went very smoothly.
What you would do differently if you did it again
With regards to the technical issues – An Indian Summer will now only work with recommended or larger-known suppliers. They found the first supplier through online research and carried out a site visit in Leicester and Birmingham. The second tech company was recommended to them and therefore they had a prior understanding of how well and reliably they deliver events. Now that they have worked with a sound LED company, they will be able to grow our collaborative partnership.
An Indian Summer will not only rely on audiences filling in online questionnaires to capture data as they received less submissions than expected. Our campaign revolved around getting in touch with audiences through Eventbrite and social media and asking them to fill in an online form. To encourage people, they offered a £250 prize, although this did not work to our usual effect. When they run events in the future, they will work with our staff to encourage audiences to fill out surveys via a smart tablet or form, if COVID health and safety permits.
This way, An Indian Summer can have more control of how many people feedback during the event and how many more surveys we need via online engagement. Their post-event online competition was carried out usually has a high impact, so although they emailed attendees and advertised via social media, they were discouraged because not many people applied / filled out an online questionnaire.
Awareness / Attitudes
An Indian Summer screenings have helped to raise awareness of South Asian identity and traditional culture meeting western ideas. This was a one-of-a-kind Bollywood outdoor cinema and engaged both South Asian people in large culturally-diverse cities and passer byers who wouldn’t normally engage in or watch a Bollywood film. It was great to see white British audiences dancing to the music as they walked by the screening – this has helped to meet our aims of creating inter-connected cultural experiences in the UK.
For Indian and Pakistani audiences, this is a nostalgic film from childhood – people may have watched DDLJ over 20 years ago in India and are now watching the film in England. The very idea of this aligns with the storyline of DDLJ – which pushes the boundaries of traditional ‘arrange marriage’ ideas and encourages older generation South Asian people to change attitudes around modern culture / society and how we view our lives.
Impacting on awareness by sharing cultural experiences that connect people through world film has been a key ambition of An Indian Summer’s outdoor cinemas and we are pleased to have achieved this through the Bollywood screening.
An Indian Summer’s outdoor cinema champions itself as the UK’s only touring Bollywood cinema event. Shouting out about diversity is something that is at the core of our organisation’s ethos and our mission is to connect people from all walks of life with inspiring creative experiences.
The low-cost outdoor nature of our events make them accessible to audiences from lower-socio economic areas of Leicester and Birmingham. An Indian Summer charged £3.50 per ticket, which is affordable for people who are on minimum wage or may not have regular income. The one-of-a-kind Bollywood outdoor cinema has connected with Indian and Pakistani audiences from across the Midlands – engaging two of the highest culturally diverse cities in the region. There was an increase of attendance of Pakistani communities, which they were very pleased to see.
An Indian Summer’s cinema events have engaged audiences from a variety of ages. Majority of people that attended were aged 21+, who brought their partners along to events, making this an exciting intergenerational experience. The family-nature of our events makes them accessible to people where English may not be a first language.
Majority of audiences that attended were from a female background – balancing the gender representation in Bollywood cinema is vital. An Indian Summer are proud to have attracted a majority audience that are women, however they still feel that this is an area that needs more work.
Knowledge & Experience
The archive film, which was screened in Leicester and Birmingham by Shiamak, gave young people an opportunity to feel inspired by dance and film. Not only did An Indian Summer showcase a live dance performance – they accompanied this with a short film that presented the international work of Shiamak’s dance school. Bollywood films are glittered with epic dance performances and they hope their work inspires young people (the next generation who will lead the creative industries) to imagine themselves in the shoes of actors and performers.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on culturally diverse communities, as they are more susceptible to catching the virus. Birmingham and Leicester have significant South Asian demographics and therefore targeting these populations was/is a key part of our strategy. Moreover, Leicester was the highest ranking city of continued lockdowns in the country and our events took place shortly after COVID restrictions had been lifted.
An Indian Summer have helped to reduce social isolation – outdoor cinemas have helped to bring families ‘back out’ after the lockdown in an outdoor environment where people feel safe. They worked with partners in both cities to connect with local communities and businesses, helping to ‘restart’ outdoor live events, which they are incredibly proud of. This in effect has helped to create stronger / more confident communities, especially from a culturally diverse perspective post-pandemic.
People have experienced feelings of belonging, exploring their personal cultural identity through a nostalgic film that was first made over 20 years ago. Many of our audience’s first language is Hindi and therefore audiences who watched the films feel more engaged in local society. Furthermore, for those who do not understand Hindi, subtitles helped to make the film accessible.
An Indian Summer’a outdoor cinemas have helped to enrich lives by connecting communities after the lockdown, provided a safe outdoor space to restart live events and therefore brought a sense of community spirit back into people’s lives. Many audiences were really pleased and happy (as seen on social media accounts and at the events) that DDLJ and The Jungle Book were being screened. This sense of community happiness and enrichment is something they are really proud of.
Working with two Business Improvement Districts was an important part of their strategy to breathe life back into places, raise the profiles of local areas, boost local economy and support new and existing businesses in the localities.
BID Leicester provided a smart Deliveroo service, whereby audiences scanned a QR code to order a street food takeaway to the event. There were a mix of independent businesses and chains that participated. An Indian Summer received very positive feedback from street ambassadors, who have access to how many takeaways are being ordered. They mentioned that there was a large increase in spend during our events, particularly to independent businesses.
An Indian Summer worked with a Jewellery Quarter cafè, who extended their opening hours to serve food & drinks to audiences. Once again, there was an increase in spend during our event in Birmingham and this has helped to encourage local employment.
Sony TV, an international sponsor, has been involved in supporting events and therefore had a significant impact both locally and nationally on the creativity industries and brand identities of unique South Asian events in the UK.
What audiences said
It would be great to see more old school Bollywood classics.
Audiences were keen to see a longer run of Outdoor Cinema events in Birmingham, similar to how we ran the event in Leicester.
People in Leicester enjoyed the new daytime screening but would prefer the traditional An Indian Summer outdoor cinema experience on Jubilee Square after dusk.
Audiences in Leicester enjoyed the local Deliveroo street food offer. - Families enjoyed the daytime ‘The Jungle Book’ family screening.
Audiences in Birmingham were asking if there were any other upcoming outdoor cinema events.
What professionals, press and partners said
We were very pleased that people were getting in touch via email and social media after tickets had sold out, with audiences being put on a reserves list.
People generally got in touch to share their enthusiasm about the screening of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and The Jungle Book with images and videos.
Sony TV – “We were thrilled to partner with An Indian Summer’s Bollywood outdoor cinema event – it would be great to look at a bigger tour next year!”
Jewellery Quarter BID – “It was a great experience having such a diverse audience come to the Jewellery Quarter. We look forward to collaborating on more events with Inspirate in the future.”
BID Leicester – “Dine in the Square worked really well with the cinema and there was a significant amount of orders to BID levy paying restaurants.”
Leicester City Council – “It was fantastic bringing back An Indian Summer’s outdoor cinema event to Leicester and re-connecting with local communities.”
Shiamak – “Choreographing a routine with such a popular film was perfect for our young dancers. We also enjoyed the screening of our archive films.”