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 that the Screen Machine is for everyone. But that doesn’t mean 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, allowing 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 that 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 that 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 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 through 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 filmmakers, 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 (which is easier for multiplexes to comply with, near impossible for single-screen cinemas), and they could charge 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 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.

Small Screen Machine

In March 2021 we launched our Video on Demand streaming service, Small Screen Machine in partnership with INDY Cinema Group, who also book the films for the Screen Machine itself.

Small Screen Machine allows us to expand our reach:

  • By making widely available film titles that we can only show at a few Screen Machine locations (e.g. those where we stay for three or four days)
  • By making film titles available for longer and after their time on the Screen Machine has ended
  • By offering a much wider choice of films, old and new, than we can never fit into the Screen Machine programme
  • By showcasing films that we think are of interest, but would not normally figure on the Screen Machine programme (e.g. world cinema, documentary, genres like horror, etc)

It also allows us to build and keep links with our audiences between Screen Machine visits, and a way for fans of the Screen Machine to help to support the service, as a portion of every rental comes to Regional Screen Scotland.