The genesis of YourScreen can be traced to the Cheltenham International Film Festival. The Festival was on course to welcome filmgoers, filmmakers and celebrities to Cheltenham. The dates had been set for 25th May to 30th May 2020. All changed on 23rd March when the British government announced the country would go into lockdown. On 24 March, Festival organisers decided to stream the Festival on line. Between 8 June – 14 June, the Festival screened 35 films and organised 10 Q&As with filmmakers from around the world.
Audience reaction was swift and fulsome. Many welcomed the opportunity to attend a film festival and to watch films normally out of their reach; including members of the community who are isolated by age, location, health or disability, social circumstance – and shielding by way of lockdown, self-isolation sand social distancing.
One of the Festival’s biggest successes was forming Virtual Screening Partnerships (VSPs) with independent cinemas around the country. These partnerships boosted ticket sales and inspired Festival organisers to consider taking VSPs to the next level by forming solid partnerships, year-round, based on a business model that rewarded independent exhibitors.
With venues temporarily closed or capacity restricted, there could not be a better time for film exhibitors to take YourScreen to their local audiences; to complement live, in-venue screenings with an online programme to broaden audience appeal, sell more tickets and generate revenue from new income streams. If the Film Festival told us anything it is – there is an audience out there for YourScreen.