A performance of Tuvalu + live score, part of Live Cinema EU - a Creative Europe-supported Audience Development project.

ON THE BLOG: Lisa Brook on live cinema and survey fatigue

We caught up with Live Cinema UK's Lisa Brook ahead of the UK premiere of their MEDIA supported Tuvalu (+ live score) project. Here she talks promoting best practice, in-film audience participation and the perils of fizzy water.

Tell us a bit about Live Cinema UK

"Live Cinema UK research, promote and produce film events that are more than a standard film screening, whether that is with the addition of a live soundtrack, immersive digital interaction, or even ‘eat-along’ or ’smellovision' at an event. We are a small but growing team of three, plus freelance creative producers, based between Yorkshire and London."

What attracted you to apply MEDIA sub-programme’s Audience Development scheme?

"We wanted to find out how film festivals in Europe develop and market film screenings with additional elements and whether together we could increase the audience size and depth of engagement for European films by creating new immersive film events. Most live cinema events are for silent films, or mainstream Hollywood films, and we wanted to see whether the rapid growth of live cinema events in the UK could be replicated with more specialised film content."

Was there anything you were worried about before applying?

Definitely – we are a tiny company and this was our first non-UK based funding so we were worried about the level of admin and reporting required for the project. The Creative Europe team in the UK and Brussels have been super helpful however - very light touch but always there if we needed them - which has allowed us to really focus on the project and be trusted to deliver in our area of expertise.

The project involved lots of different partners across Europe. Who did you work with? Who did what?

"We have three European festival partners - Motovun Film Festival (Croatia), T-Mobile New Horizons Film festival (Wroclaw, Poland) and Reykjavik International Film Festival (Iceland). We ran three workshops where each festival developed ideas for their new commissions and learned about how each other currently monitored and developed audiences. Our digital partners Boombeam worked with each team in developing bespoke digital integrations for each event whilst our academic partners in the UK supported each festival with audience development and assessing how audiences react to live cinema events as opposed to ’straight’ cinema screenings."

What has the grant allowed you to do? How has the funding been beneficial beyond the financial aspect?

"Through our workshop programme in the UK, Croatia and Poland, we have been able to find out how our three successful partner festivals programme and produce film events which there’s never been an easy way of doing before.

Aside from creating three new film events, we’ve been able to develop a digital platform for in-film participation and audience data capture with Boombeam. The findings from this will be used by Dr Sarah Atkinson (King’s College London) and Helen Kennedy (University of Brighton) who are leading the way in audience research for live cinema events - they have literally written the book on the sector, coming out this December!"

Any memorable highlights from the tour?

"One part of Tuvalu involves asking the audience to gargle water along with the soundtrack. In Motovun, the festival had a bottled water sponsor who kindly provided a bottle for every audience member to open and gargle with on cue. The only problem was all of the bottles were sparkling water, not still. We wouldn’t recommend gargling with anything fizzy, things get very frothy!"

The project get audiences involved in creating a live soundtrack to a silent film. How have they responded so far?

"Really well! We had a huge list of people who signed up the play the crazy water bottle instruments on stage and over 200 people participated digitally.  We cued them through their phones to make certain noises, like stamping, cheering, booing and gargling water.

We found that people were keen to leave feedback through the digital integration.  Festivals in Europe don’t need to provide such detailed information on attendees, so audiences don’t have such ‘survey fatigue’ after events. This meant they were really keen to fill in surveys, which is usually a huge struggle to get audiences to do as we have to ask them to do surveys so often."

The project is receiving its UK premier next month as part of Hull City of Culture? How did the first performances go?

"The show received its world premiere at Motovun Film Festival in July in the gorgeous town of Istria. It usually only has 500 people living there which increases to of 20,000 over the festival week. Everyone camps at the bottom and treks to the top each day, it’s amazing. The main square at Motovun seats over 800 people and everyone got really into the performance – Damir and Ivanka (Mr Lee and IvaneSky) are very famous in Croatia so it was amazing seeing them perform with an enthusiastic home crowd."

What have you got lined up next?

"We have just launched the Live Cinema Talent Pool where we will be developing new work with 30 UK artists, funded by Arts Council England, including three brand new commissions.  We hope that once we have produced these we can look to how we take their shows to Europe and to our new festival partners. Each festival has been so amazing to work with that we’re try to find ways of working together every year from now on, and hope Creative Europe can help us do that."

Tuvala (+ livescore) premieres at Hull City of Culture on 9 November 2017. You can buy your tickets through Live Cinema UK's website.

Find out more about Creative Europe's Audience Development scheme.

Image: A performance of Tuvalu + live score, part of Live Cinema EU - a Creative Europe-supported Audience Development project.