Young Audiences Screening Day

The Independent Cinema Office has been running Screening Days as a way of enabling exhibitors in the UK to preview titles before programming them for over a decade and in the past few years have added a Young Audiences Screening Day into the mix. Rachel Stephens from City Eye went along this May and shares her experience here:

The Breadwinner, screening as part of Anim18

I had a really great time attending the Young Audiences Screening Day at the Showroom in Sheffield. Although I have previously attended ICO Screening Days in the past this was my first time at the Young Audiences event and it was such a fantastic experience to be in Sheffield with fellow film programmers all working on developing events for young people. This event included a full day’s programme of feature film screenings and capacity-building sessions to assist film programmers with developing their events for young audiences.

I thought the keynote by Rebecca Frank (digital & marketing consultant and youth specialist) was really interesting, Rebecca delivered a very detailed and entertaining talk which provided a lot of food for thought around how to appeal to young people (under 30) and how to make our events & programmes seem valuable to them. My main takeaways from the keynote were using young advocates to spread the message to their peers and offering an experience worthy of young people’s time & money.

‘Anim18: A Celebration of British Animation’ was a good way to get a sample of the animated films on offer and the different ways Anim18 can be programmed. Having the panel discussion with programmers presenting animations at their festivals and venues as part of this event was also really useful.

Film still from Pin Cushion

It was nice to have Deborah Haywood, the writer & director of ‘Pin Cushion’ at the event to introduce her first feature film and answer questions after the screening. A more focused discussion about programming the film for a young audience would have been useful but it was still a great opportunity to have the filmmaker present. I thought Pin Cushion was a really engaging film especially visually and the difficult themes portrayed in the film provided lots of conversation throughout the day. It would be interesting to have a young audience perspective on this film.

The ‘Young People & You’ talk from Events Manager & Coordinator, Megan Mitchell was a highlight of the day for me as I found the case studies and Megan’s personal experiences really useful in thinking about specific ways our organisations can be working with young people and activities to offer. This also followed on from questions and thoughts that were raised from the keynote at the beginning of the day. It was helpful to have a brief moment talking in small groups with other film programmers about what our organisations, festivals and venues are doing well in terms of young audiences and what we could do better.

Attending the Young Audiences Screening Day has provided me with a lot to think about in terms of planning for Southampton Film Week’s Youth Film Festival this year as well as ideas for regular film programming opportunities at City Eye. I look forward to attending again in the future to find out how other organisations have developed their programmes.

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