Screening Film


I Want To Be A Cinema

If you’ve always dreamed of owning a cinema or fancy your hand at showing films to others – but don’t know where to start – you’ve come to the right place. With vast leaps in technology, cinema is as accessible as ever – but there are still many things to consider before you start warming up your projector!

Here are some handy links to start you in the right direction!

Chomping at the bit to start? For guides and information on setting up a film club / cinema, check out the resources from the awesome Independent Cinema Office and the brilliant Cinema For All (formerly known as the British Federation of Film Societies) – two organisations who fully support film initiatives across the UK.


The British Film Institute (BFI) have created a network for film exhibitors across the UK, entitled Film Audience Network. Operating in 9 regions nationwide and managed by a Hub Lead Organisation, it is worth checking out their websites to see what they can do to support. Membership to the Network is free, so you having nothing to lose, and advice and potential funding to gain!



Once you have selected your films, below are a few useful links for tracking down the screening rights. Generally if you’re screening from 35mm (celluloid film – like how it used to be!) or DCP (Digital Cinema Package – a newer format used for digital projectors) in a traditional cinema environment then you’ll need theatrical rights but if you are screening from Blu-Ray or DVD then it’s non-theatrical (even if you are screening in a cinema). It is always best to check with the venue to see if they can help you organise the rights.

To find the distributor, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) site is useful if it is a recent release. It might also help to Google ‘<the title of the film> + BBFC’ to go direct to the correct page. For the distributor name, check rows labelled FILM (rather than VIDEO – as this will be the home entertainment distributor who might be different).

DVD Non-Theatrical Bookings
These are some of the most used ones (you’ll need to have accounts set up to order from the below), pretty much everything else is on the ICO directory
Cinema For All also operates their own booking scheme.

Theatrical Bookings
It is often best to get the programmer at cinema you’re using to contact the distributors, otherwise a full list is here.

A guide to programming Archive Film with lots of links to archives here plus check out Film London’s new Made in London resources. Focal also has a lot of information.

If a film hasn’t had a theatrical or DVD release in the UK, it might be worth Googling and seeing if the film has been shown at a film festival and getting in touch with them to see if they have a contact.



Premises License
If your venue already show films or often has entertainment, it should hold a valid premises license – check with the venue manager that this does include the ability to hold film screenings. If they don’t have a valid premises license, or if they need to add film screenings to it, you will need a Temporary Events Notice. However, the premises licence law has recently changed meaning that if you are holding a not-for-profit screening at a community venue (hall, community centre, church, etc), you do not need to have a license. Cinema For All’s website has more details about the recent change.

Equipment and Tech
Before booking your film, check with the venue what equipment they have and what format they prefer films to be on.
For projector hire and screens, QED Productions are excellent for large-scale events.
Otherwise The Lost Picture Show have screening equipment for hire with discounted rates for small/community projects. Contact
The BFI have a Neighbourhood Cinema scheme that offers support and equipment funding on offer.
Also, Film Hubs Wales, Northern Ireland and South East have joined together to offer cheap equipment rental through Cinema For All, based in Cardiff, Belfast and Brighton. For more info contact

Before publicising your event, it’s worth considering how accessible the venue is in terms of location and provision for disabled audiences. Disabled Go and artsline provide information on a few venues. Your Local Cinema collects listings of subtitled screenings for audiences with hearing loss.



Here are some links to help with marketing and promotion:

Recently launched is a great tool for listing your film event and getting it noticed on the map. It’s free to use and we’ll be working with the creators for Scalarama.

Sydney Fringe Festival has a useful resource pack on press and promotion, mostly aimed at theatre/cabaret performances but lots of useful tips in there as well especially around writing a press release and promotions.

For audience research, Google Analytics offers great insights into visitors on your website, seeing where they have come from and what pages they spend longest on. And once you’ve collected email addresses, why not send out a survey for feedback. We use Google Forms, but there’s also Survey Monkey.

A great infographic about using images – specifically for trailers, but useful for all visual marketing materials.

Mailing lists
Mailchimp is an online mailing list service that offers free accounts for up to 2000 subscribers.
Examples of good mailing lists that our worth checking out:
We Like… Email to sign up.
Flatpack Festival Sign up here
Encounters Sign up here

Guardian journalist Tony Paley lists a different rep film each day on his blog: Capital Celluloid

Lively Facebook group of fellow exhibitors and film festival folk – Cinematic Drifters



First off – consider becoming a member of your local Film Hub as part of the Film Audience Network. It’s free and easy to join and gives you access to all Film Hub funding and support. In addition to various funds for exhibition, they also offer bursaries to attend training covering up to 70% of the costs.

Nationally, there is also the Programming Development Fund from the BFI, which is generally for larger projects that involve a number of partners across the UK,

Crowdfunding is also an option for fundraising, if you want to check out this route, main sites include Kickstarter, Indie Go Go and Sponsume.

You can check out the Scalarama Kickstarter campaign we did last year here, and the Sheffield Doc/Fest page here. Charlie Phillips of Sheffield Doc/Fest talks through their campaign here, and there are more top tips here.



… but last (but not least) you should aim to be screening films for the love of it! Having volunteers on board is a great way to get help, but make sure you treat them well. Here’s some guidelines on volunteering.

For some inspirational stories from volunteer-based cinemas check out Cube Cinema (Bristol), Star and Shadow Cinema (Newcastle) and the Small Cinema Liverpool.

Further afield Kino Climates network of microcinemas across Europe are often small, volunteer driven spaces. Cinefamily in LA and Spectacle in Brooklyn have great programming.

And of course, be inspired by Scalarama! In 2013, we asked exhibitors to make a declaration for cinema – here they are. Keep in touch via and follow the event on Twitter @scalarama.

Good luck with your cinematic adventures!

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