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Discussing Exhibition Innovation at This Way Up

This Way Up 16

Film Exhibition innovation conference This Way Up, takes place between 29-30 November at Glasgow Film Theatre welcoming UK and European delegates to an inspiring and thought-provoking programme jam-packed with workshops, panel discussions and keynotes. Organised by three hubs within the BFI’s Film Audience Network: Film Hub Scotland, Film Hub North, and Film Hub North West Central, we find out more about this year’s conference from Film Hub Scotland Manager Sambrooke Scott…

Sambrooke Scott

Who is This Way Up for?

In the very broadest sense, it’s for anyone working in the film exhibition industry, whether they’re involved in multiplexes, independent cinemas, community-run screens, film festivals, pop-up groups and more. If you’re committed to screening films in a communal setting, This Way Up is for you.

What do you hope delegates get out of This Way Up?

The big idea behind the conference is really exhibition innovation. We hope delegates are inspired to do new things in new ways or to tackle problems with a different approach than they might have applied before.

We try to look at the issues arising in our industry and the corresponding opportunities, and explore these in engaging ways. We kick off with key-note provocations from three speakers from different backgrounds, Bobby Allen (VP Business Development, MUBI), Johanna Koljonen (Swedish broadcaster, author, critic and media analyst), and Dawn Walton (Founder/Artistic Director, Eclipse Theatre Company – the UK’s principal Black-led national touring company), who’ll set the tone for the two days by discussing our main four themes that underpin the programme; hacking the back office, the future of storytelling, the problem of abundance and the power of place.

Alongside some high-level discussions based around these themes, there will also be some really practical sessions from leading digital and audience agencies such as Snook and Culture Republic who’ll be looking at service design and audience behaviour.

We also try to bring in perspectives from other art forms too, so we invite theatre-makers, games-makers and people that work in creative or associated industries for their take on how they’ve tackled similar issues in their fields. If you only talk to your own industry you run the risk of navel-gazing, so I think it’s really refreshing and invigorating to take on other perspectives.

What makes Glasgow a great setting for This Way Up?

A key focus that has emerged out of this year’s themes year is design, and how as an industry we can think about design intelligently and innovatively. Considering Glasgow’s visual arts and design heritage it seems like a really natural tie-in. It also makes for a fantastic opportunity to showcase a lot of great Scottish work such as that done by the Centre for Moving Image (CMI), Glasgow Film, Regional Screen Scotland, as well as the King’s Theatre who are doing some really pioneering work on dementia friendly performances.

We also have brilliant Scottish journalists such as Hannah McGill taking part in panels and Janice Forsyth interviewing key speakers, so there’s a real breadth of Scottish talent represented throughout.

Speakers at this year's This Way Up

Can you tell us a bit more about the key themes?

As part of the hacking the back office theme we’ll be considering how we organise and manage ourselves. I’m particularly looking forward to a panel looking at parenting and the world of work chaired by Suzy Glass. It’s not something we’ve seen discussed much in our sector and it feels like a very timely conversation, questioning what scope there is for change and flexibility. I think it can still be perceived as a very gendered issue as women remain predominant caregivers, and we really want to highlight that this is a conversation for everyone – all parents and non-parents too.

Through the theme of the problem of abundance we’ll consider the huge impact technology is having on cinema at the moment, not just in terms of digital projection but also on audience behaviour, how they discover film, share film and consume film. There are now so many ways to watch films and platforms to choose from that the question of what is the power of watching film in a communal setting has never been so relevant. This conversation runs alongside questions about emerging technologies such as Augmented and Virtual Reality and 360 video and what, if any, role these should play in the cinema experience and what impact might this have on cinema architecture.  

As part of the power of place theme we’ll be discussing the impact of cities versus rural settings on film exhibition, which should make for some very interesting conversations.

Then with the future of storytelling we’ll be looking at the content as opposed to the form, how film stories are changing. Filmmakers, artists, game-makers are all using digital technologies in new ways and there’s a lot more blurring of art forms than we saw previously.

Glasgow Film Theatre. Photo: Eoin Carey

What else are you looking forward to?

We have American filmmaker Roger Ross Williams in conversation who recently picked up the Best Documentary Directory award at Sundance Festival 2016 for his film Life, Animated. The film centres around how a young boy with autism finds a voice through Disney cartoons, the dialogue and the emotions the characters represent. It’s a really fascinating documentary that’s due for release on 9 December, and I think the subject is hugely relevant to all of us in the film exhibition sector who are increasingly thinking about how we make our screenings accessible to as broad a range of people as possible. I think it’s going to make for a really excellent discussion.

We’ll also be showcasing a performance that premiered at this year’s Hippodrome Festival of Silent Cinema of Wunder der Schöpfung, a 1929 silent film from Germany looking at the birth of the solar system, featuring a live score from Scottish jazz duo Herschel 36. It’s a great platform for a piece that was conceived in Scotland with Scottish talent to be seen by exhibitors from across the UK, Europe and further afield, so hopefully will result in some more opportunities for them.

I think it’s going to be a really rewarding two days of challenging and enlightening discussions and I’m looking forward to seeing so many faces from the world of film exhibition all brought together for This Way Up!

View the full programme for This Way Up.

Delegate passes can be booked now for £130.

This article was published on 31 Oct 2016