28th September 2016
How & when did you start working in cinema and what do you love about it?
I actually started working in cinema right here at Macrobert Arts Centre, roughly 8 and half years ago. I was working behind the bar and teaching film-making classes to put myself through a film and media degree at the University of Stirling. During my masters year the temporary part-time post of Film and Media Development Officer came up at Macrobert and things took off from that point.
What’s unique about your cinema?
Our venue is at the heart of the picturesque campus of the University of Stirling and originally we only screened films in the Mainhouse on nights when there were no live performances. That changed in 2002 when there was a big refurbishment that included the addition of a full time cinema screen. We are constantly striving to offer a balanced programme of commercial and independent cinema, engaging as wide an audience as possible and last year we installed a second part-time screen in our Studio Theatre, sharing time with the live arts programme.
Please tell us about any special events or screenings you run at your cinema
We offer a range of special cinema experiences, including live event cinema screenings and Q&As. One of the first special guests I brought in was puppeteer Toby Philpott whose work includes The Dark Crystal, Return of the Jedi and Labyrinth. We managed to get Labyrinth on 35mm for that night and I pulled projectionist duty. Would you believe the film broke about 20 minutes in so to avoid stopping the film I ran the film from the projector at one end of the room to the winding table on the other trying to keep speed with the projector. All in all it was a nerve-shattering experience, but we had a full house and it all ended ‘happily ever after’!
I am a big advocate for using cinema to connect with people so I’m extremely proud of our Dementia Friendly screenings and what they offer. They’re important not only for those people living dementia, but for their friends and family too and we’ve had some fantastic feedback from people who come along. This Christmas we’re also taking cinema ‘on the road’, running a series of screenings at a local hospice and hopefully to the children’s ward at Forth Valley Hospital as well.
What film are you most looking forward to in 2016?
If I had been asked this a couple of months ago the eternally optimistic comic-book fan in me would have said Suicide Squad. Since that didn’t quite pan out I’m looking at Doctor Strange to quench my thirst. Outside DC/Marvel I’d say The Clan, Sully andI, Daniel Blake are titles I’m looking forward to. From a business standpoint you cannot ignore Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Rogue One to attract big audiences.
What excites you most about the future of the cinema industry?
As television veers more towards the epic, I’m really interested in seeing how the industry responds. We have to ensure that, no matter how hard it tries, television will always come up short of the immersive experience of cinema.
What is your favourite film of all-time?
This is a question I always struggle to answer, so I normally avoid it… Instead let me tell you about the film that’s had the biggest impact on me - Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. I experienced this film after it first came out, yet most definitely before I should have, but it was the first time I didn’t watch passively. The way the story was broken up and presented in a non-linear fashion opened my mind to the potential of film-making – what could be achieved outside of pure entertainment!
What do you foresee as being your biggest challenge in 2016?
We had a fantastic year financially in 2015 so matching or passing that in 2016 is a huge challenge – so far so good though! As streaming services continue to grow, we need to keep reminding audiences that nothing compares to seeing films on the big screen, and engage their interest with those added value and unique experiences that the world of cinema offers!
What do you think are the most iconic cinema ads and why?
I was a big fan of the VW independent cinema campaign. They weren’t all home runs but they definitely had some really memorable ads. I especially loved the ones involving ‘cinema staff’ such as the attendant speaking about the flaws in Lord of the Rings or the usher explaining the hidden meaning of Toy Story.
What three things do you most enjoy doing in your free time?
1) Editing/video graphic work
2) Cooking, when I get the chance
3) Believe it or not, actually getting to go to the cinema for fun - nothing like a busman’s holiday.