I was very privileged to be able to visit the London Film Festival under the South East Film Hubs Travel and Training Bursary. I am a film programmer working in the 2 screen Connaught Theatre in Worthing. We are a multi-arts venue with dance, theatre, comedy, music and of course film. Film has become increasingly important to the venue over the last couple of years as we have curated a different audience within the town and have slowly been playing more and more art-house fare as time has gone on.
I was eager to attend the festival to get advance word on the films playing through the awards season and judge their suitability for my venue. The awards corridor is hugely important and we make more revenue in this period than we would do during summer blockbuster season. I really went hell for leather and watched at least 4 movies a day, often 5. As part of the LFF delegate pass you gain access to an on-line hub where you can watch a lot of the smaller releases that struggle to get noticed during the festival. I saw the particularly excellent documentary A MOTHER BRINGS HER SON TO BE SHOT on there. This has already provided me with some great insight into the next few months calendar and I have made some bookings off the back of screenings already. Subsequently some films that are highly regarded didn’t quite connect with me and I have decided to wait until release to see if they take off. We have already been posting images and sneak peeks to our customers of things that I saw.
The festival itself is a well oiled machine with so much going on, it could be daunting but the communication is very clear as to available screenings. I also attended many networking events where I got to talk to distributors about their release plans for certain films including print counts and marketing, which was very useful. I made a lot of contacts while I was there and always enjoyed chatting to people at events – a multitude of bookers, journalists, reviewers, exhibitors and distributors.
I am extremely grateful to the South East Film Hub for enabling this to happen. It will benefit my venue greatly.