Screen Machine: Our Programming Manifesto

Regional Screen Scotland aims to enable more people, in more places, to share great screen experiences and, in doing so, demonstrate the social and economic benefits of cinema for local communities. The Screen Machine is our flagship.

At Regional Screen Scotland we care deeply about our audiences. As a team, we take an inclusive approach to what we present on the Screen Machine. Every community the Screen Machine visits is made up of a range of ages, genders, and backgrounds, as well as individuals and groups with particular needs and interests. Digital technology enables us to host and present a wide range of content to match that community diversity.

We’re proud of the fact that the Screen Machine is for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that everything it presents will please everyone. Not all of it will please every audience member, and some of it may disappoint, anger or even offend some people.  While we won’t set out to offend, nor will we wholly avoid the risk that offence may sometimes be taken.

We will aim to ensure that our marketing material, in all forms, presents our programmes as honestly and accurately as possible, to enable our audiences to decide for themselves what they want to see. And we will also ensure that our audiences have a range of opportunities to let us know what they think of our programmes, and to enable a mutually beneficial dialogue.

Our core programme content will be:
• New cinema releases which are attracting national and international media attention.
• New Scottish films (or films with significant Scottish involvement, e.g. director, writer, or location).
• Specialist titles: independent and world cinema, films which explore particular themes or issues, and classic and archive films.

Additional content will include:
• Short films and artists’ films.
• ‘Photography on screen’ and other ways of presenting the arts on screen.
• Community filmmaking.
• Expanded cinema: with guest speakers, discussions, live music, etc.
• Event cinema: on screen presentations of live theatre, music, etc.

How we choose films:
Our films are booked for us by the INDY Cinema Group.  Their extensive touring network means that they are best placed to negotiate with film distributors for the best deals to get new releases early and at affordable rates.
Our programme is compiled by discussions within the RSS team, and with our INDY colleagues, from a range of sources:
• Knowledge of forthcoming releases
• Recommendations from INDY
• Films seen by team members at festivals and other special events
• Recommendations from our audiences, whether through our Operators and Ushers, or our online Audience Panel or Film Fans Facebook page.
• Approaches from film-makers, festivals, film curators, and special interest organisations.

What limits our choices:
For major new releases, film distributors usually have stringent requirements: new films must be shown several times every day of the week (easier for multiplexes to comply with, near impossible for single-screen cinemas), and the charge could be 65% or more of the box office. For this reason we are usually unable to start screening a film until 3 or 4 weeks after its official release date, and even then we may still be required to screen the film a set number of times each week.
We then have to make a decision, whether to
1. take a high profile and popular film to every location on our regular circuit, with the risk that, by the end of the tour, interest in the film may have waned, or the DVD release date may be close, or
2. change titles in the middle of a circuit, and risk disappointing those at the end of the tour.
For this, and other reasons, we don’t take the same programme to every location on a tour.

Partnership working:
RSS will respond to approaches from, and will actively seek out, collaborators and partners who will enable us to broaden our programme and appeal to a wide range of interests within the communities which we visit.

Our aims in undertaking partnership working will be:
• To use the Screen Machine in new and unexpected ways, which might offer models to other, ‘static’ cinemas.
• To inform our audiences on matters which we hope will be of interest to them.
• To offer our audiences new and different experiences, to enhance their visit to the Screen Machine.

Response to First Minister’s Statement

The Scottish Government announcement on March 16 about its roadmap out of lockdown proposed 17 May as the date when cinemas may be able to reopen, which coincides with when they should open in England. We’re therefore planning on the assumption that the Screen Machine will be able to resume touring in that week in May, and as soon as the Scottish Government confirms the date, we’ll be ready to advertise our first dates and locations.

Meanwhile, we hope you’ll enjoy Small Screen Machine, our new video on demand streaming service. Just follow the link at the top of the homepage.

The Screen Machine Team

COVID-19:

Read about the changes we've made to our service