Case Study: Skye Community Cinema: Bringing monthly independent film to Skye

Skye Community Cinema brings monthly special event screenings to the Isle of Skye including Q&As and donating to local charities.

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Founded in February 2022, Skye Community Cinema brings monthly special event screenings to the Isle of Skye including discussions, Q&As with talent and donating to different local charities each time. The organisation felt a demand for independent cinema on the Isle of Skye, so a pop-up cinema was created in different locations to reach different people.
We offer our audience a proper night out with a welcome drink, exclusive premiere screenings and insights into the making of the film - to show our rural audience how inspiring independent cinema is!
We also work closely with the community to promote our screenings (Radio Skye, West Highland Free Press, Library Portree, Highschool Portree, Third Ridge etc) and we have a young cinema goer ticket for everyone 21y and under for 50% of the normal price.
Since the only cinema (LAS) on Skye re-opened its doors under new owners this summer, we have also hosted some of our film events at their venue as our curations compliment each other.

Project aims

  • Bring monthly independent film to Skye

  • Invite talent for Q&As after each film

  • Create premiere-like event screenings for a rural community

  • Get people to experience cinema as a social gathering place again after the pandemic

  • Reach a diverse audience – no matter their age/ social background/ disabilities/ etc

  • Create a program that is a balance of fiction and documentary films

  • Donate 10% of ticket sales to a different local charity after each screening


  • In a short time, Skye Community Cinema has established a loyal audience group and with each screening reach new people who might have not frequently gone to cinemas before

  • Skye Community Cinema managed to bring inspiring independent films and talent to the Isle of Skye in close collaboration with the distributors and local businesses (which for example sponsor accommodation)

  • They have an average of 50 people per screening

  • Skye Community Cinema worked with local artist Simon Riddell, a Victorian wet plate photographer who portrays talent on the evening of the event. They also planned an exhibition with all the portraits to commemorate the first year of Skye Community Cinema.


Up until end of August we showed 7 films (one every month) since Skye Community Cinema was founded in February 2022.

Torn – incl virtual Q&A with director, charity: Skye Mountain Rescue
Boiling Point – incl in-person Q&A with 2 actors and producer, charity: Community Foodbank
The Hermit of Treig – incl. in-person Q&A with director, charity: Intl Otter Survival Fund
The Road Dance – incl. in-person Q&A with cinematographer, charity: Viewfield Garden Collective
Last Film Show – incl. virtual Q&A with director and in-person show-and-tell with Victorian wetplate photographer, charity: Portree Youth Club
Benediction – incl. in-person Q&A with lead actor, charity: Skye Stroke Friends
Fire of Love – incl. in-person Q&A with volcanologist, charity: RNLI Portree
Upcoming: Ride the Wave – incl. in-person Q&A with director, charity: tba

Key partnerships

We have a mix of box office, local sponsorship/in-kind and thankfully funding partners such as Film Hub Scotland, Regional Screen Scotland, Film Feels Curious (Film Hub Midlands)

Budget in brief

Roughly: approx. £1000 cash (box office, funding)/ £1000 in-kind per event screening (sponsorship/in-kind)

What worked

  • An average of 50 people per event screening in a rural location is amazing.

  • Very positive feedback from the audience – “without you we would have never heard about this movie/ never would have watched a movie like this”, “your event screenings are enriching our community and widen our cultural horizon."

  • Filmmakers and other talent related to the movies we show are keen to participate in Q&A’s and visit our community.

  • Communication, marketing and reporting with our partners and supporters works very well and is highly appreciated by both sides.

  • Donating to another local charity for each screening is very welcomed in the community and also spreads the word about our Skye Community Cinema.

What has been difficult

  • Our goal is to even reach more people in the community and build up the brand “Skye Community Cinema” – so more and more will know that we have monthly eventized screenings and stand for quality independent films that will inspire the audience.

  • We especially want to encourage our audience to not be afraid of foreign language/subtitled films.

  • We have played in 3 different locations so far. The first was at Sligachan Hotel’s Seamus’ Bar where there is already a screen and sound system in place. This venue can only be used outside of the high season, so in April we changed to the Skye Gathering Hall. This is a beautiful historical building in Portree and many people could walk to the venue which is a plus. But we have to set up and build back the whole cinema kit which takes a lot of time. The third location, where we currently are is the newly re-opened LAS cinema in Portree. It gives us the chance to play from DCP and we have already established a good collaboration with the owners and our program complements each other perfectly.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • We are very happy how Skye Community Cinema grows organically in its first year regarding audience and partnerships. We would love to find the means for a small film festival at the end of 2023 – until then we have to keep proving that we created a solid audience following all our endeavors and keep funding and sponsorship for our monthly event screenings going.

Awareness / Attitudes

Skye Community Cinema is a unique combination of films paired with Q&As and donating to a local charity that often reflects the topic of the film. Through that they can offer audiences fascinating subjects and have a conversation (overcoming trauma, resilience, exploring other cultures etc).


The film programming is very diverse, from dealing with old age (Hermit of Treig) to showing underrepresented groups (Last Film Show) to LGBTQ+ films (Benediction) – but also in the talent that is invited (especially by inviting female producers, cinematographers, filmmakers and scientists).

90% of films are shown with subtitles for D/deaf, heard of hearing and all venues are wheelchair accessible.

They have introduced a young cinema goer ticket for 21 years and under which reduces the ticket price 50%. Slowly but surely it gets more known as Skye Community Cinema collaborate with the High School in Portree.

Skye Community Cinema have also started a new collaboration including cross-marketing between Third Ridge, the Isle of Skye climbing wall, and Skye Community Cinema to attract a younger skewing audience between 20-30 years.

Knowledge & Experience

Skye Community Cinema collaborate closely with Portree High School (and will visit the school in September to talk to students about the film industry in general/ paths leading into the film industry) – all their Q&As after the film give the audience a new insight into filmmaking and beyond.


We collaborate with local businesses – different screening venues, the hospitality sector and local creatives to turn every film screening into a memorable event.

What audiences said

  • I think it is wonderful to have the privilege of an experience like this in a small and comparatively remote community and am very, very grateful, so thank you.

  • Cinema is hard to access in this part of the UK - 2-3 hour drive away, so to have an organisation that makes films available on Skye is magic. Also these types of though provoking films are generally overlooked in favour of "Blockbusters". The Q&A sessions which accompany the films with the opportunity to talk live with actors, directors, and others connected with the film's production really enhances ones appreciation of the work, and adds another fantastic dimension to the title "Community Cinema".

  • Event very well organised, excellent opportunity to experience the nice feeling of watching a film connecting with other people. Congratulations!

  • Seeing a film with others at a public event is much more of an experience than sitting at home watching.

  • It was a fabulous evening. Great film and a great Q&A. Thank you for all the organization.

What professionals, press and partners said

  • Congratulations to Skye Community Cinema for hosting such a successful event on Thursday. Their “Hermit of Treig” extended showing in company of the fantastic filmmaker Lizzie MacKenzie, has resulted in a lovely donation, helping us to continue supporting the otters in our sanctuary and beyond! (International Otter Survival Fund)

  • Thanks to Skye CC for a brilliant community screening last night. (Lizzie MacKenzie, Filmmaker Hermit of Treig)

  • Great time shooting wet plates with the incredible Simon Riddell and a real pleasure to be asked by Skye Community Cinema to bring Benediction to the Isle of Skye. Very cool what you guys are doing up there. Great crack all thigether. (Jack Lowden, actor Benediction)

  • Good to see a large audience – congratulations on another successful film evening with extra features of course (The Skye Gathering Hall)

  • So nice to see the cinema so full!
    (LAS - Cinema & Theatre)

Press coverage

  • A fantastic turn-out around 70 people helped make the inaugural presentation from the Skye Community Cinema such a “very special evening”. (West Highland Free Press)

  • Skye Community Cinema’s programme has enthralled, entertained and educated us, whether it’s reminding us of the vastness of the world we live in with films such as Fire of Love or sharing an intimate moment with a hermit in Trieg. Lena and Thor have brought some remarkable films to Skye along with Q&As to cement that shared experience of spending time together watching great cinema unfold in front of our eyes. It’s becoming the place to be each month with a growing crowd expectant of what the next screening will bring.
    (Suzy Lee, Radio Skye)