Live Cinema UK looks to future

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This month we say goodbye to our Managing Director, Liz Harkman, as she moves on to a new exciting opportunity within the BFI Film Fund. Liz has been working with me since the end of the pandemic and has been an incredible colleague and friend, supporting our company through incredibly tough times after the pandemic, seeing us release our first feature film, developing our first training programme for immersive artists and so so much more. I will miss her every day, but have no doubt she will be a vital source of expertise and support for the UK film sector at the BFI.

Over the last 6 months we have been busy working on touring a Vietnamese cinema season – Star Nhà Ease; the culmination of five years of work that saw us produce our first feature film, Dust & Metal. The tour included 4 classic films never seen on UK cinema screens before, travelled to 16 venues, over 40 screenings reaching 1000 people. We worked with a dream team including Cường Minh Bá Phạm, Delphi Lievens, Esther Johnson, Tuyết Vân Huỳnh and Vicky Sung who all worked above and beyond. Our Immersion Coordinator and resident fulldome fanatic Kate Wellham has taken on leading the Fulldome Creative Network, attended Jena Fulldome Festival, and is about the publish our Fulldome in the UK report. Despite these achievements, it’s not been easy: reaching an audience is now harder than ever, social media no longer has the traction it used to, getting attention is a challenge and when you do, competition for how people spend their free time is growing. Cinemas across the country are facing loss of funding, rising costs and closures – it is more important than ever to support our local venues and watch independent, cultural films.

I started Live Cinema UK to support those wanting to create immersive film events and make amazing events with big screens and film at the heart – this is happening and it’s thriving, with live cinema events now happening in-house for many venues. It is widely recognised and understood that adding value to film screenings brings broader, more diverse and more engaged audiences to cinemas. However, being a non-venue producer in this space has got harder – project funding has reduced, freelance rates have increased, costs for site specific ‘pop-up’ events have escalated, availability in cinemas and venues is restrictive and the landscape is changing. Technology has enabled the immersive experiences industry to grow exponentially creating competition for audience attention, expectation and spending. Over the last few years, we have been exploring what this means for live cinema, how we expand our work, our collaborators and partners and how we support this growing industry to define and forge new models so that the work we are inspired by can reach as many people as possible. You can read more about this is our report – Fulldome in the UK, led by Kate Wellham and supported by Creative UK New Ideas Fund – to be launched soon!

This December, it will be 10 years since I started Live Cinema UK at the age of just 26. 10 years ago, none of us could see the true explosion of the ‘immersive economy’. So now is the right time to reflect on the company, my own career, and work-life balance. As you may know, in December I joined the British Council part time as Creative Technology Relationship Manager, a new role based in the Film team working with Director, Film – Briony Hanson and Director, Digital Innovation – Hannah Andrews. It is an incredible role, and ever since I first met the amazing Joel Mills (now Director, Music) at Sensoria Festival back in 2015, Live Cinema UK have been so thankful for the knowledge, connections and opportunities the British Council develops for arts organisations in the UK and around the world. I am absolutely delighted that I can now support arts organisations working in film and XR in the same supportive, creative and empathic way, and you can contact me with my British Council ‘hat’ on at, and visit the Film homepage here.

Don’t worry, Live Cinema UK is continuing, albeit in a slightly different way. We need to adapt to the ongoing crisis in funding for the arts including the lack of core funding available to ensure our team, artists and freelancers are supported, secure, avoid burnout, and are not just surviving but thriving, as well as exploring the more positive opportunities that immersive technology has given the sector. I will be working with our collaborators and existing funders on what the future of Live Cinema UK and indeed ‘live cinema’ means for the cultural sector.

As ever, we would love to talk and hear what you need – whether an artist, venue, organisation: I always value an IRL experience, so do invite us to your events, venues, festivals, or just for a coffee at your local independent cinema or arts venue –

More soon. Let’s normalise discussing our struggles, needing a break, and reaching for support.

Posted in News & Events

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