Case Study: Out at the Cameo

'Out at the Cameo' was a project delivered by Picturehouse at the Cameo cinema, led by Dan Brown from MASH Cinema with support from Leah Byrne, Audience Development Manager at Picturehouse. The project aimed to recruit and train a group of young people to give them the skills and confidence to establish and programme a new LGBTQ+ strand at the cinema.

  • outatthecameo

Why this matters

The group met eight times between June and August 2018. Dan led the sessions and introduced the group to influential professionals who gave useful industry insights. The group used the knowledge from these sessions to plan, market and run their own event at the Cameo at the end of August.

Some members of the group also wrote and filmed film reviews. Out at the Cameo is now a regular strand at the Cameo championing queer cinema and is still programmed and run by the group, with support from Picturehouse who provide a screen at The Cameo for free, book the chosen films with distributors on behalf of the group and cover the cost of film hire.

This project matters for various reasons. One of which is by giving young people a safe and supportive space to discuss LGBTQ+ films and themes and to make friends. It's so important that LGBTQ+ people are the ones selecting the LGBTQ+ stories that are told on the big screen. This project has also shown these young people that there are a variety of jobs within film exhibition with the hope of increasing representation within the industry and on our screens.

One participant said “I always leave each meeting excited about our next plan and more confident in my queer identity.”

Project aims

  • Set up a sustainable LGBTQ+ stand at the Cameo programmed by young people
  • Give young people the skills and confidence to organise, promote and host film events
  • Provide safe and supportive cultural activities for LGBTQ+ people

Headlines

  • I'm most proud of the groups sell out screening of Moonlight + Q&A on National Coming Out Day during Black History Month. This was the first screening they'd organised on their own and it was fantastic.
  • Reading Louise's excellent article about her experience as an Out at the Cameo group member on the Picturehouse 'Spotlight' blog: https://spotlight.picturehouses.com/uncategorised/out-at-the-cameo/

Films

Six films screened at the Cameo as part of the funded project: A Fantastic Woman Blue Is The Warmest Colour Call Me By Your Name Love, Simon Hearts Beat Loud Freak Show The group were also given the opportunity to watch and review a preview of 'The Miseducation Of Cameron Post'.

Key partnerships

The project was delivered as a partnership between Cameo cinema, Picturehouse Education and MASH Cinema. Leah Byrne, Audience Development Manager from Picturehouse asked Corin Christopher from the Cameo and Dan Brown from MASH Cinema to develop a project that would engage younger audiences with specialised film. Dan led the project and reached out to key individuals and organisations that could offer the young people support and advice.

Budget in brief

Overall budget was £3935

What worked

  • Recruiting young people at screenings
  • Relevance of guests and quality of information shared with group
  • Retention of group members
  • Young people’s confidence in organising events
  • A sustainable LGBTQ+ strand programmed by young people

What has been difficult

  • The time frame. Starting the project in June and getting it completed by the end of August was a struggle. Dan wanted to ensure the group felt confident in their new skills and abilities before they started programming and organising the event, but as the project needed to be completed before the end of August this element had to start a lot earlier than was desired.

    This was made all the more frustrating when the first film selections were not available so they had to very quickly find alternatives. A longer amount of time from the funding being secured to the project being required to be completed would have been easier to manage, and possibly avoiding the summer period when some of the avenues to market to young people (such as through Universities/schools etc) are unavailable and there is competition for audiences from the Fringe would have been less of a challenge.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • We would have arranged a few more meetings for planning the event, and scheduled in trips to take the group to other events and organisations to see how they are run.

Awareness / Attitudes

One participant suggested that the groups focus should be on “Providing a safe space for LGBT+ young people to meet (so many other LGBT+ social spaces revolve around alcohol), putting marginalised voices first, promoting alternative and diverse films, and criticising mainstream films for their portrayals of LGBT+ people.”

One participant suggested that the groups focus should be on “Providing a safe space for LGBT+ young people to meet (so many other LGBT+ social spaces revolve around alcohol), putting marginalised voices first, promoting alternative and diverse films, and criticising mainstream films for their portrayals of LGBT+ people.”

Diversity

This whole project was about representing LBGTQ+ voices within the industry and on our screens. In terms of audiences and participants this breaks down into 65% Gay/Lesbian, 14% Heterosexual/Straight, 12% Bisexual, 7% preferring to self-describe, and 2% preferring not to say.

Knowledge & Experience

The project exposed the young people to a variety of jobs within the industry which they previously were unaware of. One participant said “I didn't know that audience development or programming were jobs that individuals did!”

Social Cohesion

One participant said “I made new friends and felt confident speaking to them as a queer person, it was refreshing to discuss the subject.” Another said “it has been a surprise to know how much people value my thoughts and input”

A Tweet to @CameoOut twitter says “With @EdGayMensChorus & @EdiFrontrunners going strong, @sxscotland & @OutInEdi developing, and @SomewhereEDI & @CameoOut getting off the ground, #edinburgh feels a place with an exciting #LGBTQ+ future!!”

Wellbeing

The group were all very positive about their experience. One participant said, “It has been so much fun and I'm so happy to be involved! Every guest we had at the screening was a reason to celebrate.” Another said “totally brilliant and i am so grateful i could take part. i really loved it.”

Economy

Through delivering this project the Cameo cinema has seen more interest from LGBTQ+ audiences. It is through the Out at the Cameo events and the groups social media output that audiences feel the cinema is somewhere they can go, and it's a safe and friendly environment.

What audiences said

  • "I made new friends and felt confident speaking to them as a queer person, it was refreshing to discuss the subject."
  • "Fantastic and inclusive atmosphere for the audience"
  • "Friendly staff, great idea for a special season"
  • "Chat afterwards and intro were great. Nice to meet new people and share our takes on the film – heard some really interesting perspectives"

What professionals, press and partners said

  • "Whilst a Summer season is always going to be tricky with nice weather, the fringe, uni holidays all competing, I really feel that this project was important in establishing the beginnings of a new audience demographic for us. We would love the young programmers to continue gaining in confidence and keep OATC going, hopefully aiming for event screenings and bringing more engaged young people to the cinema and making it their own." - Deputy General manager at the Cameo, Corin Christopher.
  • "It was a pleasure to participate in this event and you can count on us to support the initiative in the future." - Rafael Cueto, Cinemaattic.

Press coverage

  • "New film night Out at the Cameo is curated by a team of young LGBTQ+ programmers, and their second screening will be Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winner following a young African-American man growing up in Miami and coming to terms with his sexuality. This screening coincides with National Coming Out Day and Black History Month, and is followed by a chat with two guests from the University of Edinburgh – EUSA Women's Officer, Esme Allman and student activist, Fatima Seck – who’ll be sharing their experiences of film and queerness as well as what Moonlight means to them." - The Skinny