When it comes to putting the social into social enterprise this weeks business Alston Moor Film certainly does that with their regular film nights bringing people together for an enjoyable evening of quality films and company every month.

Film club simon

Alston Moor Film was set up in 2009 by Simon Danby and a group of his friends who wanting to help Simon get back on his feet after the death of his wife Sue encouraged Simon with their help and support to set up a much needed film club on Alston Moor.  With the nearest cinema being a 40 mile round trip, the regular film nights have become a highlight of many local peoples social calendars and the club has become a real asset to the community of Alston Moor.

The club has a screening every month either in Alston Town Hall or Garrigill Village Hall and tries to show a variety of films of different genres, with both adult and children screenings A grant was received from the Cumbria Community Foundation to help purchase a professional quality projector and a large remote controlled drop down screen for the Town Hall.

Simon, the Secretary of Alston Moor Film said We try to be as involving as we can and as welcoming as we can and we do movies as often as we can for both adults and young people. We think about what people’s reactions are to what we are showing so we tend not to show too much violence or sex, so you try to balance stimulating an audience by showing them things they might not normally see against not showing things which will upset.Film club vote

To make sure they are on the right track for showing the type of films audiences want to see Alston Moor Film now has a voting system at  the end of each movie, people get to vote with the options of ‘Great Movie’ ‘Enjoyable’ and ‘Never Again’.

Simon said I think people really do look forward to the film club, although I don’t think we reach as many people as we possible could or should.”

Click below to hear from those attending one of the clubs screenings in Garrigill Village Hall

The club is run by a voluntary management committee and everyone brings something different to the running of the organisation - using their skills to create eye catching posters for the screenings,  technical help with the equipment, balancing the books, and of course practical help on the day with setting up, running the door and bar.

Simon said  The main challenges are making sure you are democratic and no one gets burned out and if there are some individuals who are doing a lot of work, making sure they are receiving a lot of support which balances that, because that’s the psychological equivalent of being financially stable and you have to have both of those. I think in general it does work out as there is enough support and friendship and understanding and things that are intangible to keep it going and that there is enough appreciation by people.”

Film club post“The nicest thing about the film club screening is afterwards with everyone helping and putting everything away - people do it without thinking, some go off and do the washing up and others put the chairs away.  Also the way people applaud things and the way everyone chats to one another before the film and so on. With the children’s screenings it’s just watching them sat on the mats at the front laughing their heads off - that’s when you know it’s worthwhile.  They talk about pay day, that’s pay day, just watching the kids’ faces.  It sounds corny but it’s really lovely.” 

Alston Moor Film had its first film festival weekend in the Summer 2013 with Le Weekendwhere Alston took on a distinctly French vibe with two fun filled days dedicated to showing French films with music, food and dancing. The event proved to be very popular with both local people and attracted visitors to the town over the weekend

Alston Moor Film has just enjoyed its second film festival this weekend with an Indian Summer Film Festival, in conjunction with the South Tynedale Railway.

There are two sides to Alston Moor film, the monthly film screenings and also a practical filmmaking side which took off when Alston Moor Film got funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to make a short film about Alston Moor entitled ‘Views from the Market Cross’. The group received funding to buy all the equipment and editing software needed to make the film and received training and support in how to make the film from Barrow based Signal Films who specialise in working with community projects.

Simon said “The film was so popular we had a celebration of its completion and ran it for two nights in Alston Town Hall and when it came on people cheered and it was lovely and really well worthwhile.

SFilm club filmingince then Alston Moor film has made and supported other short films about the community, Simon plays a big part in this side of Alston Moor Film going out himself and making many shorts about Alston Moor and its people. Alston Moor Films most recent project was to make a short promotional film about Epiacumone of England’s best preserved roman forts based just outside of Alston which is being developed into a social enterprise visitor attraction. 

Alston Moor Film would like more people from the community to get involved with the filmmaking and is open to training people in the community to use the equipment and borrow it to make films, with the opportunity to get their films screened at the film nights. Wherever possible we try to screen a locally made or locally relevant short before each movie,but far too often that is just something I have made because at the moment we don’t seem to be encouraging other people to make things.

Simon would offer the following advice to other communities wanting to set up a film club where they live:

If you want to start a film club … be straight, be open, obey all the rules, get all the advice you can from the British Federation of Film Societies, make sure there are sufficient people involved to do the different jobs and make sure you have the right equipment to do it properly. If you are making a funding application don’t be modest, be realistic. Try to share the load and don’t become over dependant on any single person and of course listen to your audience.”