Reports From This Way Up 2017


This Way Up is the UK film exhibition innovation conference that promises to inspire and enlighten, provoke and challenge, connect and share. This Way Up 2017 took place in Hull, 7-8 November. More information on this year’s programme and about previous editions can be found here:

Jessie Gibbs, ¡Viva! Festival and States of Danger & Deceit Season Coordinator at HOME, Manchester reports back from the conference:

I really enjoyed my first experience of TWU conference, and very much hope to attend again in the future.

From Moira Sinclair’s talk on resilience I understood the need to examine the values and purpose of an organisation, remembering who we exist for (artists, audiences and other participants), and focussing on both quality and diversity. Ours should be a reflective practice, learning from our experiences and investing in our staff and collaborators (e.g. mentoring schemes and apprenticeships). This tied in with Simran Hans’ warning not to exploit enthusiastic but underpaid or volunteer staff, something which I very much took on board in relation to our current student placements with the States of Danger & Deceit season.

From Boglárka’s discussion with Tara Judah on connecting to younger audiences, I enjoyed the description of cinema as a social experience in which people can get passionately involved, and noted the need to relinquish control in order to allow new voices in – something we’re trying to do with our 2 student placements and the young programmers group known as The Team. I loved Boglárka’s innovative engagement with teenagers in Bucharest, with her monthly film groups and the SUPER film festival shaped and marketed by teenagers themselves. I agreed with her support of outreach marketing and loss-making screenings in order to build future audiences.

The talk about safeguarding was timely and useful, especially the reminder to set up a clear lines of reporting for incidents seen or experienced by staff, guests or audiences. A few lines on the conduct expected and what to do if it’s not deemed acceptable would be a useful addition to our Viva festival event planning, especially as we hope to include more volunteers and student placements in 2018.

Sarah Mosses had some welcome insights into using data more effectively for marketing, including doing sample marketing before the full release of materials, using programme ambassadors (the “mega fans” who are most keen to spread the word), and targeted online ads. I would very much like to get a Survey Monkey version of our feedback forms ready for Viva 2018 (saving time and paper, and hopefully reducing form-filling fatigue).

The Case for Internationalism revealed some slightly depressing figures (45% film titles in UK cinemas are foreign-language, but they yield only 2% of the Box Office). However, the Mar-May ‘sweet spot’ for these releases at least coincides with Viva dates! I like the idea of building audiences for foreign-languiage films through children’s programmes, something we already do with our Schools & Colleges programme – perhaps we could also offer free screenings of foreign-language shorts programmes for children and/or young people during Viva? I also thought it was an interesting point that all films should be subtitled, regardless of the language, to offer full access to D/deaf audiences and two normalise the use of subtitles for all audiences.

Sue Gainsborough, Director of MediaActive Projects C.I.C. reports back from the conference:

This was my second time attending the TWU conference, and it didn’t disappoint.

The conference provided the opportunity to hear new ideas and diverse perspectives, and I was particularly delighted to witness such a strong field of women presenting, rather than simply appearing on the “women in industry” panel, as is so often the case with film industry events.

As ever, the chance to meet new people, and spend time with old collaborators, was productive, and hopefully the many conversations had will lead to new developments – watch this space!!

The reason to visit Hull was much appreciated too – what a welcoming and interesting city.


Jessie and Sue attended the conference with a bursary from Film Hub NWC.