Case Study: Build Your Own Film Night

Build Your Own Film Night is a workshop package devised by Flatpack, giving young people the skills and knowledge to put on their own pop-up film events, and picking up loads of useful skills along the way.

Running since 2017 Build Your Own Film Night has engaged with 302 young people in film programming and event production. More than 50 film events have taken place across the Midlands including Birmingham, Stoke, Hereford, Stafford and Black Country and the project has reached audiences in excess of 3,000 (and that’s just the ones we’ve tracked).


Flatpack has developed a series of workshops to give young people the tools and knowledge to build their own film night!

Project aims

  • Box office data in the region suggests there’s a lack of engagement with indie film amongst young people. We have used BYOFN to try and address that and find out ways we can engage the less engaged with specialised film whilst trying to support the more culturally engaged to grow tastes and confidence.


  • 302 young people engaged with the project, all under the age of 30.

  • Over 3000 audiences engaged with specialised film with more than 80% aged between 16-30

  • All but two of the groups have gone on to programme film nights independently since completing BYOFN.

  • Build Your Own Film Night: Ukraine Edition - Movie Mavericks in Stoke went on an exchange trip to Ukraine and were so inspired by BYOFN that they decided to deliver it themselves to their Ukranian counter-parts and put on a short film night together during their stay!

  • Movie Mavericks and CineQ have since set up as CICs and have received funding to host their own film festivals.

  • Ikon Gallery in Birmingham now has a regular film programme, led by the BYOFN participants.

  • BYOFN is now part of the MA in Film & TV studies module at University of Birmingham.

  • A growing community of budding film programmers and producers in the region.


We've shown over 100 films as part of BYOFN, but here's a sample of them:
Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers
Don’t touch my hair
High Rider
A Song for your mixtape
I know why the caged bird sings
The Quickener
Eden Reborn
Explosions in the Sky - The Ecstatics
Staffordshire Lives Archive

Key partnerships

Ikon Gallery
University of Birmingham
Highfields School
University of Birmingham School
Stirchley Open Cinema
Impact Hub Birmingham
Rural Media

Budget in brief

Budget £10,000
Total Spend £12,702
Match funding £3,000
Box office £2,250
Cost per head £3.02

What worked

  • Utilising the already established interest and habits of watching short content online to get young people thinking about shorts as a type of specialised film and how it can be curated into programmes and using it as a gateway to get them to explore features and other types of specialised film.

What has been difficult

  • Scheduling - young people are busy and so getting them together on a regular basis can prove difficult so it was important to get buy in from them early on and to ensure flexibility for those with commitments or in challenging circumstances. We utilised closed Facebook groups for comms which worked really well.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • We’ve tweaked the workshop sessions over time to ensure they’re the right length to achieve the work needed to be done but also making sure sessions aren’t too long to hold attention spans.

  • We’ve also put more emphasis on marketing as early on this seemed to be the most challenging area for the young people. We found there’s a bit of a myth that just because young people are digital natives and use a variety of social media platforms daily doesn’t necessarily translate to being born marketeers.

Awareness / Attitudes

Box office data in the region suggests there’s a lack of engagement with indie film amongst young people. We have used BYOFN to try and address that and find out ways we can engage the less engaged with specialised film whilst trying to support the more culturally engaged to grow tastes and confidence. With continued screenings and two new festivals as a result it’s definitely had a positive impact.


The project has attracted a wide range of young people from a variety of backgrounds and audience data collected from screenings indicates that over 80% of attendees are under 30 and over 46% non-white.

Knowledge & Experience

BYOFN has been pivotal in upskilling a new generation of young programmers, many of whom are now putting on their own film events and slowly growing the sector.

Social Cohesion

Each year we bring different cohorts back to programme a slot at Flatpack Festival, it’s a chance for the different groups to network with industry professionals as well as each other and is helping to grow a vibrant scene of young programmers in the region.


Cinema attendance can have independent and robust effects on mental wellbeing, film brings people together, starts conversations and breaks down barriers. Visual stimulation can queue a range of emotions and the collective experience of these emotions through the cinema provides a safe environment in which to experience roles and emotions we might not otherwise be free to experience. These events and festivals provide an opportunity for communities to come together and enjoy film in safe spaces in their local area.


Some of the events are free and some have ticket prices attached. All box office income goes back to the groups to use towards their next screenings.

What audiences said

  • Thoroughly enjoyed tonight and so proud of them for putting all of this together!

  • Excellent programme of short films, the snail one really cracked me up.

  • Had such a great time watching Spiderman in a field! Please do it again.

What professionals, press and partners said

  • We love and support what Flatpack does, which is why it was a no brainer for us to get involved in this project. The film events that have been produced have been incredible.
    - Beatfreaks

  • The Flatpack team has done a wonderful job engaging the young people with film, they are all really excited to make films, watch films and show them to each other and have already started planning next year’s Young Wolf Film Festival!
    - Highfields School

  • Build Your Own Film Night is brilliant! It’s a really great way to get young people interested in film whilst also giving them skills and training in event production and curation. The stuff they’ve come up with has been outstanding, so far they’ve hosted films on a boat, inside the gallery and organised a screening with the director in attendance. Can’t wait to see what else they come up with.
    - Ikon Gallery

Press coverage

  • The young people did an amazing job of planning and delivering the film night event.