Declarations for Cinema from the Scala Beyond network
It starts with a cautious audience. They don’t like the multiplex and they don’t want to see mainstream films. Wait- maybe a few mainstream films. If it’s the right subject. They love foreign film though. Well, as long as it’s not too obscure or challenging. They like independent British film too… Unless it’s too modern. Judi Dench? Every day of the week.
We are Gloucester Guildhall, a 100-seat single-screen cinema within a thriving entertainment venue, and when we started listening to what our audience had to say they started coming back more often. Our technology isn’t cutting edge and our seats are a little rickety but the atmosphere and community spirit when the lights go down in our cosy oak-panelled room is like no other, and when the audience laughs it’s infectious, like you’re sharing a joke with a group of friends.
We want to give our audience the opportunity to experience as diverse a range of films as possible. This means bringing them the films the local multiplex doesn’t want to show, whilst also making sure they’ve got the option to watch the odd mindless comedy here and there if they fancy a break from serious world cinema. They are the reason we do what we do, the reason we work all hours and never quite manage to switch off and stop thinking about films. We owe it to them to give them that choice. We love film – we love nothing more than film – but what makes our day is that look on a stranger’s face when they come out of our cinema after seeing something they really enjoyed.
As well as playing to their tastes, we also try to encourage our audience out of their comfort zone, building a reputation where they trust us to sift through all the content available and bring them only the very best and (or!) most culturally significant. We’re saying to them, “Hey, we know you’re busy. Here’s what we think you need to see this month. Trust us: we’ve got something you’ll like.” The goal is for people to see our programme as a recommendation and take a chance on a film they haven’t heard of because they have enjoyed other films we’ve shown and respect the choices we make.
But most of all we want to bring interesting cinema to Gloucester that people can get excited about. We’re not trying to change the world, just Gloucester’s cultural outlook, by doing things like hosting a Future Shorts Festival screening and putting on Mystery Movie nights. People say it won’t work because Gloucester isn’t “the right kind of place”, but we believe that things can change and we’re going to start right here.
As part of Scala Beyond, Gloucester Guildhall will be presenting a double-bill of recent international hits, Little White Lies and Incendies on Saturday 1 September from 4.50pm.