A totally fresh perspective on the Big Screen

Anyone more than casually reading this blog will know what big cinema fans we are at FR towers. Seeing the industry we love facing such exceptionally challenging business environments is hard for us.

So we have enjoyed seeing some positive developments this month – especially that Christopher Nolan’s summer tentpole release Tenet now has a confirmed UK release date (in drive-ins and cinemas too). But also that picture houses around the country are being fed with a fresh new releases. Also, we’ve been able to help a bit too, having supported an amazing new concept which could be a look ahead at the ‘future of cinema’ (not our words, but they popped up regularly).

Working with the French architects behind the stunning new Ōma cinema design concept, we spotted immediately that not only is this a breathtaking approach to auditorium design, but it is also perfected suited to deal with the social distancing challenges facing many cinemas.

Typical banked seating rows are making it very difficult for many cinemas to run their screens at anything more than about 30% capacity, while the lack of new releases also means many which have decided to open are screening recent hits for a second time alongside classic favourites.

The ‘pod’ concept of the Ōma, which has captured the attention of movie lovers around the world, not only offers a premium approach with flexible seating concepts possible on each different balcony, but it inherently separates audiences from each other while allowing cinemas to maintain a good capacity of seating.

After working with the Ōma cinema to share an exclusive first look at the design with the Daily Mail’s This is Money section, we knew the design would appeal to cinema fans around the world. We’ve been blown away by just how much – in just a few weeks, mentions and shares of the ‘Star Wars’-esque design have gone truly global, with a reach of nearly 2 billion people – meaning 1 in 3 of you reading this have probably already seen it. In the comments on Reddit, Twitter and plenty of other social channels there were certainly a lot of cinema lovers offering to book plane tickets to Paris right now, to visit a cinema that’s still under construction.

Cinema is facing a lot and trying to adapt quickly. Innovations like the Ōma and nostalgic favourites finding new leases of life like the drive-in, are reconnecting with audiences with the joy of the silver screen experience.

But, it’s also facing new threats – shortening release windows in the USA, the rise of streaming (even if most streaming services don’t directly challenge the big screen, films going to streaming first is a new weapon in the fight), not to mention the scores of screens around the country who have had to survive months with no revenue and no product.

We believe wholeheartedly in the cinema. We think there will always be a place for it. Even if its role has to evolve to meet the new world we all face. 

 
 

WFTV Hot Seat – Katia Shannon

Next in our profile series with the wonderful Women in Film & TV UK, , we sit down with Director and Writer, Katia Shannon.

It’s been a particularly busy month for Katia – she has been selected as a Netflix Diversity of Voices participant at the Banff Media Festival, and her latest short Standstill, has just been selected for the Fantasia Film Festival.

Tell us what you’re up to at the moment.

I’m polishing the script for Us & in Between, a film I’d love to make as soon as the situation allows. It’s about love and intimacy in old age so I need the actors to be able to touch each other! I’m also attending virtual film markets, developing a series and VR project and creating branded films with production company Flyer Films.

What’s been your best career moment so far?

Directing Standstill was pretty magical. You can spend a lot of time prepping for a film but only when you step on set does the chemistry you were hoping to create between actors, set, crew and story actually materialise and when it happens, it’s the best feeling.

Last film you saw in the cinema?

Portrait of a Lady on Fire at the cinema with one of my best friends. We were in Montreal, on a dark, snowy winter evening.

What did you think of the story?

Such precise, focused storytelling. I loved that Celine Sciamma rarely gave us an interior establishing shot, escaping the need to show us the ‘set’, which is a refreshing understatement for a period piece and serves the intensity of the story. I loved the way the film gives the maid a voice and through her, explores the grey zones of friendship with the other women of the house.

If you could work with anyone who would it be?

Screenwriter Liz Hannah or Carey Mulligan

When did you realise you wanted to work in film?

I had toyed with the idea before, but I committed to it when I was 15. I remember the moment. I was in the back seat of my friend’s car when her mum asked me the typical mum question about ‘what I wanted to do’. It just clicked that directing was the sum of all the aspects of life I’m most interested in. It’s writing, psychology, business, history, photography, movement, leadership, travelling, working alone and working in groups. I knew I could never get bored.

Summarise your style in three words.

Provocative, Heartfelt, Redeeming

How do you find your stories?

From observation or reading something that I can connect to my own lived experience. And then I develop the world of the story. However, I also love true stories. There’s somehow more potential for people to surprise you in real life, than people would accept in a purely invented story.

What are your top 3 films?

Like Crazy

Pride and Prejudice

The Piano

One thing you’d tell your 16-year-old self….

Striving for perfection shouldn’t stop you from making the first step.

Tell me something I may not know from reading your resume.

I grew up with my grandma living in an apartment upstairs. I saw her every day and we were very close. She would just pop down to ‘steal’ a banana/low-key check out what was happening downstairs/watch whatever film we were watching only to fall asleep as soon as there were action sequences. I learned from her that I could look forward to growing older.

Katia Shannon writes and directs heartfelt films of love and adversity. Her latest, Standstill, premiered at the 2019 Calgary International Film Festival and is currently touring the festival circuit. The atmospheric thriller was also nominated for the EDA award for Best Female-Directed Short at the Whistler Film Festival 2019.

Taking her first plunge in film at the age of 9, Katia wrote the winning script for a national contest run by CBC (Radio-Canada). She studied Film Production at the renowned Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema where she was recognised with an award for outstanding achievement in filmmaking and her student films were selected in festivals internationally.

After graduating, Katia worked on several Hollywood and broadcast titles, as film commissioner for the region of the Laurentides, and as a documentary editor with her work broadcast on Sky UK, Direct TV, Canal D and YesTV. She recently edited the feature documentary Mental States which won the award for Best Social Justice film at the 2019 Manhattan Film Festival.

Insta | Twitter | LinkedIn | Website | IMDB

 
 

Creativity is leading out of Lockdown

As we all experience the heat of proper summer, the country around us is starting to slowly open up. You may have seen our excitement at the announcement that cinemas will be formally reopening from 4 July, with appropriate distancing measures in place. But the creative minds in media, marketing and production have hardly been idle while stuck at home, so we thought we’d digest some of our favourite recent innovations in the space from some very bright minds

Smart design is tackling the problem of getting kids used to masks

If you go near Twitter you’ll know that enough adults seem to have problems with the concept of wearing facemasks – so explaining the potentially scary concept to kids is a daunting task. Step forward, Nalla Design (recent participants in our Virtual Escape Room), who have come up with a way of making face coverings less scary, more fun for small kids. Just download, print out, cut out and your rather anonymous nose and mouth covering becomes a bear, a tiger, or a bulldog. With more designs set to drop, we think this is a great design-led approach to a potentially serious problem.

The magic of Eurovision taps into pop up radio

No-one loves an innovative bit of film or TV content like us, so when Magic and the new Will Ferrell comedy announced they had teamed up to launch a pop-up Eurovision themed radio station, to support the streaming launch of the song competition-themed film, we stood up and applauded. Not only are we partial to a bit of Abba and Bucks Fizz (well as much as the next PRs), but radio has been surging in popularity as we were all housebound. Content-led, innovative ways to support film releases which could otherwise have passed by on streaming? More please. It’s also a great way of including songs from the film to extend possibilities for the content, as well as frankly giving us all a much-needed giggle. We didn’t get to enjoy real Eurovision this year from the comfort of our houses – but this might be the next best thing.

Keeping the festival experience alive

It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the doyenne of summer festivals, Glastonbury, just isn’t happening this year. But people keen on replicating the experience have been taking matters into their own hands – and back gardens. With a tent, a speaker, access to the content at our fingertips and a surprisingly small amount of mud, this is homegrown experiential from people not only keen to keep summer traditions going but also eager to share that experience s far as they can in bubbles. We’re now connected as never before and the crop of virtual and streaming festivals and concerts emerging is not going to stop some outdoors summer fun. Expect this to be a trend which experiential taps back into when lockdown lifts further and client budgets unfreeze. It keeps an event unique and exclusive but also intimate and personal. That sector deserves it.

 
 

In the Media Hot Seat | Lucinda Kingham, Comms Consultant, Franklin Rae

What’s your proudest PR moment (to date!)

When myself and my team managed to secure a broadcast interview on CNBC for an engineering simulation client. They had been tricky to pitch as the technology was very niche, but with a lot of dedication and a good hook we managed to secure a national broadcast opportunity!

Biggest learning curve?

Due to the current pandemic, I’ve had to adapt and flex my skill set to ensure that I can remain relevant and successful in the comms industry. This situation has certainly taught me a lot about the skills I possess and the ones that I need to continue to develop 

What makes you excited about PR?

The unpredictability of the job – one day you might be writing a byline on cloud technology and the next you’ll be staffing a national press briefing for the launch of a new product

What’s your dream client

I would love to work for a charitable organisation and help to spread awareness of an important cause 

Favourite TV show?

Currently, I’m loving Parks and Recreation – we all need some light relief now and then

Last film you saw in the cinema?

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Biggest advocate of…?

Having passions outside of work. Sometimes we become so focussed on work that we forget to disconnect and enjoy our lives outside of work. I’m a huge theatre lover and participate in amateur dramatics – it’s my version of switching off and having fun. 

Tea or coffee?

Coffee – an oat milk latte with an extra shot to be precise 

Cats or dogs?

Dogs 

Staying in or going out?

Going out (when we’re allowed, of course)

 
 

FR and APFI Webinar – Understanding the TV Trade in the UK | With Channel 4, Channel 5, Hell Fire! and Orange Smarty

Audiovisual Producers Finland – APFI will together with Franklin Rae PR organise a webinar on understanding the TV trade in the UK. According to Ampere Analysis, the UK is now the largest market in Europe in terms of audiovisual revenue (in all forms of video entertainment). In the webinar you will hear recent experiences of how the COVID-19 crisis has affected demand on content, and practical examples of what is working in the UK and what is not, as well as do’s and don’ts of marketing your content to UK commissioners and distributors.

HELL FIRE!

Hell Fire! is a television production company founded in 2019, with a HQ in Leeds and bases in Manchester and London. They look to the British Regions for stories authored by original and authentic writers and work with some of the brightest new talents in the North and in the UK. With content ideas in the works for some of the top UK broadcasters, and connections to top UK commissioners, they have amassed a detailed understanding of the current TV market – if anyone has an up-to-date understanding of how to sell a show in the UK, its them.

CHANNEL 4

Channel 4 is a publicly owned and commercially funded UK public service broadcaster, with a statutory remit to deliver high-quality, innovative, alternative content that challenges the status quo.

As Head of Specialist Factual a Channel 4, Fatima Salaria is responsible for History, Science, Natural History, Arts and Adventure. The department produces everything from Putin, A Russian Spy Story, SAS Who Dares Win, Grayson Perry, Guy Martin and critically acclaimed single films like 100 Vaginas and 3 Identical Strangers. Prior to joining Channel 4, Fatima was Commissioning Editor for Religion at the BBC. She commissioned award-winning Muslims like Us, Abortion on Trial, We are British Jews, The Pilgrimage and curated the Black and British and the Partition seasons for BBC2 amongst many other series and single films across BBC One, TWO and Four.

As Head of Entertainment and Events, Phil Harris oversees entertainment output across Channel 4, E4 and All4. His slate includes channel defining live events like Stand Up to Cancer, the award-winning topical satire of The Last Leg and gold standard comedy entertainment such as Cats Does Countdown and the forthcoming Taskmaster. His teamwork with a broad range talent such as Davina McCall, Maya Jama, Greg Davies and BAFTA nominated comic Mo Gilligan.

Before Channel 4, Phil produced a series of high profile hit entertainment shows such as Saturday Night Takeaway, X Factor, Take Me Out and Celebrity Big Brother. He developed and Executive Produced BAFTA nominated BBC1 Entertainment hit The Greatest Dancer plus young skewing comedy reboots of iconic heritage formats Supermarket Sweep and Blockbusters which recorded record viewing figures for ITV and Comedy Central respectively. He has a strong background in reality; show running BAFTA winning The Only Way is Essex, devising and Executive Producing E4 smash Celebs Go Dating, now in its 8th series, overseeing BBC’s BAFTA and Broadcast award nominated Eating With My Ex and winning an Emmy for dating show The Singles Project which he developed and produced for America’s number one cable network, Bravo.

CHANNEL 5

Channel 5 is a British free-to-air television channel. Channel 5 is a general entertainment channel that shows both internally commissioned and foreign programmes. Emma Westcott oversees a wide range of factual series in the channel’s peak-time schedule and also leads the channel’s push to double its amount of regional commissions. At Channel 5 Emma has been responsible for successful series such as: Thirties in Colour, Walking Britain’s Lost Railways, Dogs Behaving Badly, Toddlers Behaving (very) badly, Ten Years Younger in 10 days, GPs: Behind Closed Doors and Violent Child, Desperate Parents.

Before joining Channel 5 she was Director of Commissioning at The Lifestyle Channels in Australia from 2010 to 2012. There Emma developed and managed key local productions as well as successfully translating a number of UK formats such as: Location Location Australia, Grand Designs Australia and Trinny and Susannah’s Australian Makeover Mission

Prior to that she worked as Channel 4 Commissioning Editor for Features, responsible for channel defining shows including: Location, Location, Property Ladder, No Going Back, You Are What You Eat and Ten Years Younger as well as managing key brands such as Grand Designs and Supernanny

Emma has also worked for ITV Productions Children’s and Entertainment and BBC Entertainment and Features as well as an executive producer in the independent sector, producing content for all major UK broadcasters.

ORANGE SMARTY

Twice listed as the fastest growing UK distribution company in Broadcast magazine, Orange Smarty is a Factual Specialist in Non-Scripted content and boasts a catalogue of over 1500 hours of quality content. Karen Young, CEO and Founder Orange Smarty is an industry professional with a huge background in Sales and Marketing for Blue Chip companies such as British Airways, P&O Cruises and Foxtel Channel in Australia. She has worked in distribution for over 20 years and set up Orange Smarty in 2013, launching a formats division in 2017.