Distributor Slate Days 2019

Recently, Bridget Mulrooney from The Regal Cinema in Fordingbridge attended the Distributor Slate Days in London, thanks to bursary support from Film Hub South West. Here she has written a blog post sharing her experience.

To provide some context, I was hired into our community cinema as the ‘Deputy Operations Manager’ but, as things often go in small non-profits, I  ended up taking on responsibility for programming and, indeed, marketing. I have been programming for The Regal Cinema in Fordingbridge, Hampshire for a little over a year now.  We have seen our occupancy rates rise by almost double in this time (in part due to an increase in marketing!); I’m not saying this to blow my own horn, but rather to illustrate that I feel I have got to the point where I have a sufficient handle on putting together a programme that is well received by our audience.

I was keen to attend the Slate Days as I thought it would open my eyes to some less mainstream films that our audience might now be up for. As our programme has evolved over time we have found that our audience is beginning to become a little more trusting and in turn a little more willing to try out less well known films that we’ve put on and recommended.

The Slate Day we attended was a full day of a wide variety of distributors presenting their current/upcoming films with some background information and a trailer, or a few clips if their commercial trailer was still in production. Whilst it was definitely an onslaught of information it was truly very helpful for a number of reasons:

  1. It enabled me to identify easily what films would and would not work with our audience.
  2. I was able to note down which films would work well for our audience, but didn’t have a particularly strong trailer and therefore would need an extra marketing push.
  3. We were introduced to some niche distributors that we weren’t otherwise aware of who distribute the likes of arthouse/indie films, world cinema and classics.
  4. All the contact information for making bookings with each distributor was provided in our booklet/programme.
  5. I was able to get an understanding of the reaction a trailer might receive in our cinema by the general feeling/reaction in the room i.e. if people were laughing at the jokes, or if they were falling flat!

I definitely came away from the event with a list (or rather a programme full of scribbled notes…) of films that I will definitely put into our programme, a list of ‘maybes’ that I will consider based on reviews/audience reception after their release and a list of ‘maybes’ that will become fillers if we’ve got a few gaps in our programme that particular month.

As I have always found at these types of events, it is wonderful to be in a room full of people interested in, and working within, the realm of film. There are lots of interesting discussions to be had with both new faces and recognisable faces that I’d come across at previous Film Hub events. In fact, I bumped into the lovely gentleman who recommended that I attend the Slate Days some time ago; we had the opportunity to catch up in the lunch break, and I was able to thank him in person for his helpful recommendation!

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