Venue Case Studies

Alessia and Niamh at Balik Arts, Cambridge

I currently work for Balik Arts, a Cambridge based film charity, and am a theatre producer and soon-to-be film and TV graduate. My goal is to become a film director and by working as a young film programmer I have access to a wide range of films that I can watch and analyse. This gives me the skills and knowledge to understand innovative storytelling techniques and methods that I can implement in my work. 

When I was asked to be a film programmer, I was totally unaware of what the role description required me to do but following my desire to experience different fields of filmmaking, I have learnt a wide range of skills. This includes organising film screenings and events, getting permission to screen films, collaboration with other film societies, booking venues, promoting and market film events.

I’ve also learnt about hospitality, which is a useful skill in the film industry, especially as film enthusiasts are based all over the world and often meet in one single location or online. For example, when we planned a screening of ‘Papicha’, a film which focused on the theme of fashion, gender and religious discrimination, the priority was on finding guests, willing to share their experience as North African women for a post screening discussion. 

In the case of the Taste of Anatolia Film Festival, we had guests from Italy, Turkey and different cities across the UK, therefore we found ways to welcome the diverse group of people that were joining. As an emerging filmmaker I would recommend the programming experience as it involves skills that are not restricted to filmmaking and allows you to network with a diverse group of people, with different skill sets and interests.

Alessia Mavakala

I’m a first-year undergraduate studying film and media at Manchester Metropolitan University and a film programmer with Balik Arts in Cambridge. I’d love to pursue a career that involves working at film festivals after I graduate from university. As a film programmer, I have access to a variety of independent films that will help me learn more within this field.  I wasn’t aware of how useful being a film programmer could be when I first started, but I’m glad now that I know more about this aspect of cinema, which will help me in my future work in the industry. Regarding Taste of Anatolia Film Festival, I’d say that these screenings are where I learned the most skills, which included planning events, handling correspondence and complaints, promoting and marketing on social media. This festival provided a fantastic opportunity to introduce independent cinema from Turkey to UK viewers, promote films that UK viewers might not have previously seen, and establish new relationships with filmmakers from Turkey. I also learned the value of social media and how crucial it is to schedule each post in advance in order to advertise each viewing location and draw in more viewers.  

Niamh Walker
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