Since 2018 Flatpack has led a series of programming interventions across the region, designed to develop new audiences for film by embedding screenings within other contexts. This has included both arts and non-arts events, gaming, sports, heritage and education. As well as introducing people to work they wouldn’t otherwise get to see, the project is designed to develop skills and resources so that partners have the confidence to continue programming film beyond the life of the project and to be bold and ambitious with programmes.
Targeting low areas of provision in the Midlands, strategic interventions deliver activity in collaboration with on-the-ground partners to provide sustainable, better connected, more visible, and a more ambitious film scene.
In a region with a relatively low screen density the aim of strategic interventions is to support new and existing exhibitors to increase film activity and create a more thriving and connected film scene. We take a bespoke approach to supporting partners based on need, whether that involves upskilling, programming advice, technical support, funding support etc. with a view to creating sustainable activity that can continue beyond the life of the intervention.
Telford Film Festival
Working with Telford & Wrekin Council to organise the first ever edition of Telford Film Festival in 2018, attracting over 2500 audience members to an eclectic mix of specialised film to a range of spaces and places in and around Shropshire, including an 800 capacity sell out at the big top in Telford Town park. The festival was a success and the second iteration took place in 2019 welcoming just short of 3000 Shropshire dwellers.
Beware the Moon
A partnership with non-arts based organisation, Dudley Zoological Gardens, to present an annual season of al fresco horror among the ruins of the iconic Dudley Castle. Starting with local lad James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein which attracted over 700, mostly local, punters. Since its beginnings we’ve presented An American Werewolf in London, Night of the Living Dead, The Lost Boys, Beetlejuice and The Blair Witch Project with audiences totalling over 5,500 and generating over £28,000 in box office income since 2018.
Film Camp, a one-day training event exploring some of the latest innovations in cinema exhibition. Film Camp takes place in Birmingham and is designed to gather film exhibitors from across the Midlands to share their wealth of experience as well as discuss new models and ways of thinking. Film Camp is open to everyone from large-scale exhibitors to community cinema organisers and student film groups. Now in its third year Film Camp is a permanent fixture in the sector’s training and events calendar, attracting over 50 sector professionals each year.
We've shown over 450 films as part of Strategic Interventions, from 120 BPM to Wild Tales. From Mary Poppins to Free Willy.
The project has engaged with a wide range of partners across the region in the last two years (too many to list individually) including the Film Hub Midlands’ membership, a number of local council’s, several Midlands universities, schools and colleges, arts and cultural organisations, libraries, community groups, festivals, filmmakers and many more.
Budget in brief
Annual Budget: £40,000
Admissions to date: 43,771
Box office: £43,057
Other: £15,000 grant from ACE
Cost per head £1.86
Gathering intel in the initial months of the project was really key to making sure we were focusing on the areas of the region where we could make the most impact. Identifying partners that could offer audiences something new and also had match funding was important to ensure that we were helping to grow sustainable provision and not just parachuting activity in that would disappear once the intervention was over.
What has been difficult
The biggest challenge has been capacity. Once the project got off the ground and we started to create a network, the opportunities to work with new and existing partners has continued to grow and we are now supporting several large projects each year. We are aware that there are still large parts of the region that need attention so the challenge is to ensure we are able to spread the work we do as evenly as possible.
What you would do differently if you did it again
In the initial stages the focus of the project was on areas with willing partners on the ground but we have since shifted it to be more led by regional needs and focusing on two or three key areas at a time so not to spread ourselves too thinly.
Awareness / Attitudes
The Midlands has a relatively low screen density with regards to independent cinema and so this project is really about trying to raise the profile of British and specialised film in the region. Since we started we have helped to establish an urban touring network in the Black Country, a new indie space in Wellington, Shropshire, a number of annual outdoor screenings, several festivals and community cinemas as well as introducing a range of specialised films to parts of the regions that wouldn’t otherwise get to engage with such content. The landscape is slowly shifting and many of the partners we have worked with are now in a position to apply for the hub’s open funds to run regular, sustainable activity.
Strategic interventions has had a particular focus on diverse audiences and works with key festivals and organisations such as Punch Records, Recognize, Journeys Festival and British Red Cross. These programmes have reached a consistently diverse audience with our overall BAME audience figures for the project around 20%.
Knowledge & Experience
The project has been central to upskilling many of the partner organisations in how to put on film seasons, festivals and pop up film events with many embedding film into their programme/festival/organisation. It has also spawned Film Camp, an annual training event for local exhibitors to come together and share the latest innovations in film exhibition.
Films help to bring a real community spirit to places and give people an opportunity to explore new spaces in their cities, towns and villages through the medium of film. We have been able to present a diverse range of films to appeal to a wide audience and give them a chance to see things they wouldn’t otherwise get to engage with. Some of the projects we have been involved with have been specifically designed to engage with audiences at risk of social isolation or with additional needs where film in a communal setting has been a lifeline.
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. The more activity we can help to facilitate across the region will provide an opportunity for the community to come together, particularly those in isolation, to participate in a communal experience in safe spaces in their local area.
The project has generated jobs and opportunities in the film sector including project managers, programming and marketing roles, interns and apprenticeships, designers and technical staff, as well as engaging artists, musicians and facilitators to deliver workshops, talks and performances. The project has generated box office income of £43,057 (based on events with direct involvement) as well as box office, bar and cafe takings at other legacy events with an estimated total of £20,000+.
What audiences said
This is exactly what Telford needs! Please do more stuff! (My Neighbour Totoro at Telford Film Festival, Telford)
This has been great! I think I’ve been to almost all of the films at this festival and what a great idea to have archive film in a pub! (The Wind with live score at Pocket Film Festival, Stafford)
We just wandered past and wanted to see what was going on, we’ve been here two and half hours, great fun watching films and making cars with the kids. Thank you. (DIY Drive-In at Port Loop, Birmingham)
I’ve never been to this place before [Rugby Baptist Church] what a fab idea, the choir was amazing. Planning to try the short film night next. (Sister Act with choir at Rugby Festival of Culture, Rugby)
The entire experience has been incredible, excellent film choice, intro by John Landis blew me away but I wouldn't expect anything less from Flatpack. Cracking atmosphere and great value. Thanks guys. (An American Werewolf in London at Dudley Castle, West Midlands)
What professionals, press and partners said
Being able to access advice and guidance to include film in the festival programme has been so valuable. We’ve seen brand new audience members engage with us through film and we’re keen for this to continue to be a part of our offer.
Producer, Creative Black Country - Funny Things Festival
Having the Flatpack team navigate us through putting on our very first film festival has been incredible and the level of support was amazing. Nothing was too much trouble, sending us files at 9 o’clock at night when we had a disaster with a DVD!
Operations Manager, Telford & Wrekin Council - Telford Film Festival
We knew we wanted to do something with film but didn’t really know how to go about it so we got in touch with Flatpack and they supported us every step of the way. We hosted our very first film event and it sold out! It gave us the confidence to do it again and we’ve been running film events regularly ever since and have successfully applied to the Show Fund!
Producer, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Theatre Trust - Appetite