YourScreen: Virtual Cinema and The Future of Independent Cinema

Leslie Montgomery-Sheldon

Friday 16 July


YourScreen's Leslie Montogmery-Sheldon discusses the online VOD platform's lockdown success and the learnings along the way.

YourScreen was one of the first virtual cinemas to launch in the UK in October of 2020. The genesis of YourScreen can be traced to Cheltenham International Film Festival 2020 which took the decision to stream its programme of feature films, filmmaker interviews, Q&As to audiences throughout the UK following the government lockdown. Audience reaction was positive to the virtual opportunity to attend a film festival, which many had never done before, and to enjoy films they never would have the opportunity to watch. As films were scheduled to screen on designated days and times, audiences treated the streamings as a festival; gathering friends and family, remotely, to watch films at the same time, to share views after  screenings.


Those Who Are Left Behind

The lack of accessibility to film festivals and/or local independent cinema referred to by audience members, citing health issues, lack of mobility or transport, Covid, of course, as well as socio-economic circumstances, disabilities and location, was a light bulb moment for the management of YourScreen who saw an opportunity to reach out to audiences often left behind.


Virtual Cinema/Live Screen Partnership

The opportunity extended to independent cinemas shut down through most of 2020 into 2021. Cinemas around the country were invited to partner with YourScreen; promoting our programme of films, directing traffic to our web site and sharing in box office returns for every virtual ticket purchased through their referral; every sale is tracked by individual cinema, film and special offer. Exhibitors did not and do not have to sign up or pay anything to YourScreen;


The Future

The founders of YourScreen see its partnership with independent cinemas continuing into the future as digital takes hold and the market to watch films at home is growing into hundreds of millions and revenue into the many billions. Live screening and virtual streaming are complementary, allowing independent exhibitors to programme films for different audiences, at the same time; turning their cinemas into mini multiplexes, generating additional revenue without adding to costs; and by way of example, using the second screen for move-over screenings for a film that retains box office appeal but gives way to a new film opening and/or a wraparound programme such as a retrospective of a filmmaker’s work whose newest film is in the physical theatre.


Film Societies

YourScreen also provides a route for film societies to honour their commitment to members with an offer to watch films at home in the event they are unable to use their local venue.  Further, as fewer films are put out on DVD and Blue-ray, societies may come to rely more on streaming – YourScreen can live stream films into local venues. Going forward we plan a number of new initiatives and welcome the continued partnership of independent cinemas and local film societies to support independent filmmakers who are the pipeline of our offer and audiences who we wish to grow, deepen and widen for international cinema from around the world.

 

YourScreen will be taking part in Film Feels Hopeful, branding their fourth season "Summer of Hope". More information coming soon. Find out more at watch.yourscreen.net or get in touch with Leslie at
Leslie.Sheldon@yourscreen.net. Work in film and want to partner with YourScreen? Head to yourscreen.net.

 


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