Bursary Recipients Report Back From This Way Up Conference 2016


THIS WAY UP is the UK’s annual film exhibition innovation conference which invites film exhibitors from across the UK and Europe to come together to explore new ideas, emerging audience trends and the future of cinema.

In 2016 the conference took place in Glasgow on 29 & 30 November. Over 320 delegates and contributors took part in 25 sessions, workshops, keynote talks and events.

Several Hub Members from our region were able to attend with help from our bursary scheme, below a few of them report back on the conference and what they got out of it:


Olivia James / Film Community Engagement Co-ordinator at Ludlow Assembly Rooms

The 2016 edition was my first time at a This Way Up conference, I did not really have any preconceptions and my expectations were that it would be a series of talks. Coming from a production background I have been to a fair number of film festivals and this had a similar feel which was nice to experience – it created a more relaxed and fresh atmosphere than I had expected.

It was interesting to gain knowledge from other attendees, including hints and tips about what they do. The talks weren’t too ambiguous and recognised that there are differing audiences depending on where your club, cinema, etc. was located.

The keynotes were inspirational, innovative and very useful. I found Joanna Koljonen very useful with regards to design of experience and physical environment. I particularly enjoyed Dawn Walton’s address and it was relevant to my work within the community and I certainly recognised and was encouraged by her ‘cultural ambassadors’ work.

I attended 5 sessions; these were Rural Pathways, Parental Guidance, The Editorialists, Good Design and The Price is Right. I took something away from all of them even though sometimes the content was not necessarily appropriate to my work (for example, The Editorialists, to me, was quite negative and did not really help me in terms of advice for programming). Parental Guidance was great to hear that there is nothing for children aged 1-3 as I am currently looking into programming and initiatives at our venue for young adults and children. This is something I can consider. I also liked the recommendation of the Pompidou Centre having sandpits and building houses for the future for young visitors. I feel we could implement something similar at our venue. The Price is Right was a great opportunity to hear other’s pricing strategies and initiatives they’ve tried in order to make cinema more accessible to different audiences.

This Way Up 2016 was a great opportunity to see what others are doing and also to have a taste of different events to offer (I particularly enjoyed Wunder der Schopfung and the lunchtime VR demo – things that I have recommended back here). The conference also seemed extremely supportive for neighbourhood cinema clubs which was refreshing.

Josh Senior/ Cinema Manager at The Northern Light

From the 29th to 30th of November last year I attended the annual This Way Up Exhibition Innovation Conference in Glasgow. It was my first time at the festival, and also at any conference like this, and I found it be an engaging and refreshing experience.

I am the Cinema Manager at The Northern Light Cinema in Wirksworth, which is a 52 seater cinema, bar and restaurant in the Derbyshire Dales. Overall I found it really incredible to attend talks and mix with people from the wider film world. Being in a rural location you can sometimes feel that disconnection, and it was a good experience to have had, just to feel a part of a community and an industry, as most of my days are spent working individually. I’m also quite new to cinema in a professional sense (leading on from a lifelong love of film), having only begun working in cinemas back in 2015 at the Curzon in Sheffield.

Over the two days at the conference I attended an array of talks which were chosen from a wide and varied programme. I aimed to only attend talks that were relevant to my working environment in order to learn things from the information that would be provided, however I actually found that this plan wasn’t the best approach in the end and I abandoned this structure early on.

I took something away from each talk, and some more than others of course. The Rural Pathways session on day one was excellent, as it gave me an insight into markets that we may not be reaching with our programming. Wirksworth is a relatively accessible town however we are surrounded by other locations that may benefit from some outreach on our part. It established in my mind a long term goal of trying to take our programme to more isolated towns and villages, and how that be done by working with local organisers.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Building Audiences session that was also one Day One. I’ve worked in the cinema here for roughly a year now and have yet to do much programming myself, as I never really felt comfortable in doing so. However, hearing the groups of young film programmers speak in this session really inspired me to curate my own programme of selected films here at The Northern Light Cinema. Upon my return from Glasgow I pitched my ideas to the Cinema Owner Paul and he agreed to let me run a short three film programme, which is due to begin in April.

On the final day I attended the wonderful interview with Roger Ross Williams, director of Life, Animated, which was a fantastic and interesting opening to the day. It prompted me to pretty much immediately book the film in to screen in 2017, as well as giving me a great insight into how independent films are funded.

I also attended two great screenings at The GFT while at the conference. On the first night I watched Wunder der Schopfung, the silent-movie with live accompaniment by Herschel 36. Then on my final night in Glasgow I watched Jim Jarmusch’s new film Paterson. It was really good to be able to relax and enjoy the cinema experience for a change without worrying about the projection and all the other issues involved with the cinema side.

Overall, my trip to Glasgow was a really good break from my day-to-day routine but I also brought back several new ideas with me that I am now looking to implement and an extra dose of enthusiasm for everything that I’m currently doing at The Northern Light Cinema. I can’t wait for This Way Up in Hull 2017!