Your community needs you: bring in the entertainment
Organise a social event for your community to attend
Deep in the Welsh Valleys a dozen years ago, a bunch of friends had a rush of enthusiasm in the wake of a successful one-off film show to raise money for an Indian village charity. Why not, they thought, make a habit of it, and so The Valleys Film Society was born. Their first showing was a disaster, The most expensive film Ive ever sat through, says Pieter Nelson, society chairman. A dismal night and a dubious choice of film attracted just 30 people, leaving society members to pick up losses of about £30 each.
Only after 18 months did they shift to a slightly more secure footing, when they landed a permanent home at the refurbished hall in Llanfyllin High School. The first show there sold 220 seats. The society now mixes mainstream and art-house movies, so it reckons to turn a profit on about one in six films, and these days the average attendance is 60.
With the nearest cinema in Welshpool some 16 miles away, the society serves 10 to 15 villages, with some people travelling further than they would to the actual cinema. It provides a nice Friday evening social event, Pieter says. Quite a few of us go to the pub after the film.
Do your homework
There are different models for how to set up and run a film society, so contact others who've done it before you dive in. The British Federation of Film Societies (www.bffs.org.uk), has a Community Cinema Sourcebook as well as online advisers. It can help you source and book films, access film posters and programme notes.
Turn-out may be poor in summer, so consider a six-month programme as operated by The Valleys.
You will need to find a hall that can be effectively blacked-out and which has good sound insulation. The premises will also require public liability insurance.
The Prince's Countryside Fund is Country Living magazine's charity of the year and will be supporting its work at the CL Fairs and in the magazine. It's funded by businesses that have a connection to the countryside, through the products they make or sell. You can donate through your post office. Visit www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk.