If you didn’t make it to the UK’s film exhibition innovation conference of the year, THIS WAY UP, earlier this month, let Moviola’s Neil Ramjee tell you what you missed out on and the reasons you should be thinking about signing up to attend in 2019!
Liverpool had the honour of holding the annual forward-thinking exhibitor’s conference, This Way Up for 2018. Delegates from across the spectrum of the independent sector were invited to hear keynote speeches and engage in interactive sessions to better understand the status quo within the sector (and perhaps finally put a face to that snazzy email signature).
Thanks to Film Hub South West’s bursary support, one of those participants was me, the Communication & Diversity Officer for Moviola – the largest community cinema provider within the UK. New to the role, I was eager to glean as much as could from this two-day event, covering everything from disability access to eco-friendly cinemas, to candid Q&A’s with actors such as Joanna Scanlon.
Welcoming diverse audiences and learning from the unexpected panel discussion
The event kicked off with a passionate manifesto from Mia Bays whose outfit, Bird’s Eye Films, champion an initiative called #ReclaimTheFrame. The thrust of their campaign looks to represent women in front and behind the camera, in a proactive effort to tip the current imbalance within the industry which, unsurprisingly, leaves many women underrepresented. By advocating a commitment to be influencers with the powers we wield in our individual roles, Mia’s mantra was simple: Challenge, Invest, Honour, Live The Change and Do All You Can to build a healthier film world in which women co-exist as equals on all levels.
Some stats from Mia Bay’s presentation on Reclaim the Frame
Many of the sessions followed suit with their speakers embodying their values and wearing their hearts on their sleeves. No more so than during heated Q&As and debates where the delegates relished the opportunity to interrogate key figures and hold them publicly to account on their ethos and ethics. Such a forum is rare and, for This Way Up to provide the space to permit this level of interactivity, made the event more than a run-of-the mill conferenc
As a fan of box office figures (yes, we exist) and the changing landscape of the indie sector, it was an absolute treat to be in the company of Charles Gant (the Rachel Riley of box office stats) who held an interactive casual chat on the latest news over a morning coffee and a croissant.
My highlight, however, was the ability to pre-book 1-2-1 appointments with experts such as Andi Jarvis – a professional marketer – who offered specialised surgeries gratis. The session with Andi provided an invaluable ‘eureka’ moment between myself and my CEO, as we hurriedly retreated to a café to plan our course of action for the coming year.
It was not all work though, This Way Up provided social events to forge new relationships with fellow exhibitors and share ideas in casual surroundings – even if that was at 1am in a karaoke bar!
This Way Up is such a wide-ranging event, through which I was able to forge new working relationships with organisations I had not considered before and helping my journey of taking the first steps into the independent exhibition sector.
For more insights into the 2018 THIS WAY UP, check out Tara Judah’s round up of the debate on To screen or not to screen?
And Ti Singh’s article: Is the idea of a silent cinema audience outdated?