Film Hub staff swim the Serpentine for MediCinema

Still from the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Film Hub staff gracefully accept Bill Murray onto Team SwimFAN


A collection of colleagues from across the BFI Film Audience Network are busy donning their wetsuits and swimming caps, in training for this year’s Swim Serpentine event in London’s Hyde Park.

On Saturday 16 September, five members of staff from various Film Hubs around the UK have joined forces to help raise funds for a charity close to their hearts, MediCinema. It runs permanent cinemas in hospitals to help patients and their carers escape the isolation of their wards and illness, and enjoy a few hours of normality.

Why we’re taking on the challenge

Image of Lis Spencer

Lis is feeling brave

“Cinema gives us a sense of wonder and an opportunity to escape our normal lives, which is especially important when your normal life is spent in a hospital bed. I hope we can raise as much money as possible to enable MediCinema bring the wonder of film to loads more people. Just got to get to brave the cold water now!”
– Lis Spencer, Strategic Development Manager, Film Hub South East.

“I completed Swim Serpentine last year, raising more than £500 for MediCinema. I hope our collective Team SwimFAN efforts this year can push us over the £2000 mark. Research has shown that the distraction of watching a film in a dedicated cinema setting can significantly reduce people’s perception of pain, so we want to help MediCinema expand its cinemas into more hospitals across the country to reach more people, and provide them with memorable cinema experiences.”

Annie Mannion swimhat

Annie at last year’s event

– Annie Mannion, Coordinator, Film Hub South East.

Film Hub staff in Team SwimFAN:

  • Paul Bowman, Film London
  • Annabel Grundy, Film Hub North
  • Tiffany Holmes, Film Hub South West / West Midlands
  • Annie Mannion, Film Hub South East
  • Lis Spencer, Film Hub South East

Please sponsor us!

See what Team SwimFAN will take on:


“MediCinema enables patients and their families to feel better with film. We do this by building, installing and running cinemas in hospitals and other healthcare facilities throughout the UK. These cinemas are custom-built using the latest technology so they look and feel just like a mainstream cinema. The only difference is they’re specially designed for a healthcare setting so whether a patient is in a wheelchair, attached to a drip or even unable to leave their bed, there is a place for them.”

– Statement from MediCinema

MediCinema’s star supporters

Celebrities who support MediCinema charity include Kate Winslet, Ewan McGregor, Thandie Newton, Damien Lewis, Mike Leigh OBE, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nick Frost and many more stars of the screen, including Kevin Spacey:

“As a Patron of MediCinema, I know how important it is for patients in hospital to be able to change the way they look at their world – and what better way to do this, than through the magic of film.”

For further information and images, please email:
Annie Mannion, Coordinator, Film Hub South East

Data Driven Marketing – top tips for your cinema

Blog post by Annie Mannion

Annie Mannion headshot

Annie Mannion, Film Hub South East Co-ordinator

I’m privileged to be attending the Independent Cinema Office‘s Data Driven Marketing course in Leeds this week. I thought I’d use the opportunity to share some of the key lightbulb moments I’ve experienced while here, so far. In no particular order:

Young people: sadly, being in my mid-30s, I’m no longer defined as a young person (sob). But, when trying to find out how to attract and engage younger audiences to screenings, what I’d failed to realise until now was the wealth of people already available for me to ask. My friend’s daughter? The students eating their lunch on the bench outside my office? They’re right there. You probably have the same kinds of contacts at your disposal: GO ASK THEM. Chances are they’ll be able to tell you some really useful information about how to reach younger people at your venue.

Your ticket booking system: You can make quick wins by asking brief questions of those who are using your online booking system, without it seeming like you’re hassling them. Such as ‘How did you find out about this event?’ can tell you so much about the effectiveness and impact of your existing marketing efforts, and where you could focus your time and money in the future.

Find your receptive audiences for free: Log on to the Audience Finder website (it’s very quick and easy) and head to the Mapping section. Pop in your postcode and navigate the dropdown menus to identify the different audience segments in your town.  This screenshot identifies the top types of audiences for arthouse film – Metroculturals (just 5% of UK households) come first:

Arthouse film photo

What sort of people go to arthouse film?

Increase bums on seats: According to data from comScore (formerly Rentrak), 77% of UK adults say they DO visit the cinema. So, the audience is still there to engage.  They haven’t given up entirely. Your challenge is to make them go more often.

Simple ways to do this? Incentivise your audiences through membership deals, refreshments offers, say thank you for their custom, remind them of the ‘Last chance to see’ a film during the week it’s on, and send them a money-off voucher for their birthday (if you collect their birth-month information via your ticket booking system – and if not, build this in, for a marketing quick win).

A bit of useful information about the average cinema ticket booker:

  • books 6.4 days in advance of attending,
  • books 1.8 times per year,
  • spends £6.76 on each ticket, and
  • purchases 2.3 tickets per visit.

Meet our new Film Hub South East Co-ordinator: Annie Mannion

Annie Mannion headshot

Annie Mannion, Film Hub South East Co-ordinator

Hi! I’m really excited to be joining the Film Hub South East team to look after its digital channels, communicate with cinemas across the region, and help run events. My background is in journalism and since 2000 I’ve edited a broad range of both print and web titles, including a stint working in Chicago.

I come to this role directly from Macmillan Cancer Support charity, where I’ve worked in the Digital team for the past seven years. Most recently, I’ve also been working part time as marketing manager and events organiser for the Electric Palace – a boutique, 50-seater cinema in Hastings. Its annual Summer Music Season, hosted by David Quantick, is one of my ‘babies’, and I was also very proud to persuade the brilliant US musician and acclaimed author, Willy Vlautin, to join us for a guest appearance alongside the screen adaptation of his novel, The Motel Life.

Outside of work, my happy places are either in an old man’s pub nursing an ale and a cryptic crossword, or at the swimming pool – perhaps that’s one of the reasons The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is probably my all-time favourite film (though it’s a tough choice between that and Almost Famous, or A Mighty Wind…).

I look forward to meeting you all.

Feel free to email me about Film Hub South East.