The Clay Factory in Ivybridge has teamed up with Cinema For All to provide equipment for community cinema events throughout Devon and Cornwall. The launch will be celebrated with a free screening of The Florida Project. But how did it all start and what can you do to put on your own event? We caught up with Damon Foster of The Clay Factory and Jay Platt of Cinema For All to find out more
D&CFilm: Why are you offering the cinema kit and how did you get involved with Cinema For All?
Damon (Clay Factory): We first came across Cinema For All when I was researching getting a regular community cinema event off the ground at The Clay Factory.
We were looking for equipment to hire and initially enquired about their equipment hire scheme. I rang to ask if there was any provision in Devon and was told the nearest provision was in Somerset.
Most people would have just taken no for an answer at this point but I decided to I’d tell them about the good work we do at The Clay Factory and explain a bit about the locality of Ivybridge, Devon and Cornwall.
I also explained that communities here can be close to a major town/city but at the same time be rurally isolated and I thought there was a genuine need for the Cinema For All scheme as it could enable communities to host their own cinema events. From this one conversation things just naturally happened.
Jay (Cinema For All): We were really pleased with Damon’s enthusiasm to get the scheme up and running at The Clay Factory! Most regions of the UK are covered by our equipment hire scheme, but unfortunately, until now we haven’t been able to expand in this area of the South West. Cinema For All South West have equipment available in Bath and Shaftesbury, but groups working in Devon and Cornwall are usually too far to benefit from this.
The Clay Factory in Ivybridge is in the perfect location as it makes affordable cinema equipment available to groups in Devon, Cornwall and the surrounding areas.
The timing was also perfect because a spare set of equipment was available to be relocated from the start of the year.
The launch event should be fantastic because it gives people a chance to see the equipment in action, and how easy (and rewarding!) it can be to start a community cinema.
D&CFilm: How does the offering of cinema equipment fit in with the ethos of The Clay Factory?
Damon: I think for us as an organisation, we want to do as much as possible to enable our community to interact with our space and as part of that we can now offer regular film screenings onsite by being a partner in the Cinema For All scheme.
Obviously, the scheme can have a positive impact on a much wider community than just our own, this also appealed to us because we know better than anyone that in general the South West can feel like an isolating place to reside and by committing to having the equipment onsite it means that communities can access the scheme from all over the South West.
D&CFilm: There’s a sense that film can bring communities together as well as tie them through the shared experience of stories, do you have examples where this has happened?
Damon: Because the scheme is so fresh to the South West I’m probably not best placed to answer this one. Jay can you give some good examples of how the scheme has brought communities together?
Jay: The community cinema movement has a long history of bringing communities together. There are countless examples of this, from dementia-friendly screenings, to screenings in rural Scotland, to screenings aimed at queer people of colour.
Volunteers getting together to put on an event like this gives people a shared experience to reflect on and provides a place where isolated and hard-to-reach communities can be united.
D&CFilm: Putting on a screening can be pretty daunting, what sort of support can you give?
Damon: Putting on any kind of event is daunting but it’s about keeping in mind your expectations, i.e what do you want to get out of hosting an event?
Community cinema for me is about bringing people together to give them a unique experience, you’ve obviously got to keep in mind balancing your books, so you need to work out your break-even figure and head for that.
Anything above that figure is a bonus but always remember that ultimately it doesn’t matter how many people turn up as long as you give them a unique experience.
We put on lots of events at The Clay Factory and we’ll be happy to share our experiences with any community groups who make contact with us. Jay does Cinema For All offer any additional support or tips?
Jay: It can seem like a scary prospect, but running a community cinema is very much doable if everyone’s heart is in it! We’ve got lots of advice packs on our website which are free to download, and of course people who are interested in putting on a screening are encouraged to contact us for advice on everything, including licensing a film, marketing and technical queries.
D&CFilm: The cost for renting the kit starts at £25, what will that get you, and do you have other more pricey packages?
Damon: Jay you best take this one
Jay: There are three prices for hiring the kit. Cinema For All members (more info on that here) pay £25, community and volunteer groups who aren’t members pay £40, and commercial groups pay £65.
For that price you get all the necessary equipment to put on a screening (projector, screen, Blu-ray player, sound system).
D&CFilm: Based in Ivybridge, Devon, how far does your reach go?
Damon: The Clay Factory is based in Ivybridge but we’re very accessible from all major connotations in Devon as we’re right off the A38 so wishing thirty minutes of Exeter, Torbay, Newton Abbot and Plymouth. We also 15 minutes from Cornwall which means we’re assessable for people in Cornwall.
D&CFilm: How do you go about renting the equipment and find out more?
Damon: The first port of call is Cinema For All, you need to make the bookings directly through them.
If people come to us looking to hire the equipment then we’ll not be able to do anything until it has been booked and confirmed with Cinema For All, but it’s not a terribly complicated process is it Jay?
Jay: Not at all! We’ve tried to make it as simple as possible. The first step is to either email or call me (email@example.com or 0114 221 0314) and find out if the equipment is free on the dates you want it. I’ll then email you a booking form to fill in, and then you’re good to go! You just need to liaise with Damon a few days before you’re due to collect it to arrange a precise pickup time.
D&CFilm: Damon and Jay, thanks for your time!
We’re looking forward to hearing about more community screenings throughout the region!
The Clay Factory and Cinema For All launch event takes place on Saturday, March 24, 2018 between 3pm and 6pm with a free screening of The Florida Project. Get your tickets on the Eventbrite page, where there’s also info about nibbles, transport and parking.