Fylde Film Society

This year sees the Fylde Film Society embark on its 67th season. Formed in 1948 as Lytham St Annes Film Society, with the sponsorship of the Royal Air Forces Association, it screened its first film, Mr Deeds Goes to Town using a 16mm projector at the Ansdell Institute.

Membership for the first season, which comprised 13 films, was 15 shillings. The slogan for the society was ‘The Study and Advancement of Film Art’  and that first season set the tone for the society by screening films from across the world, often accompanied by short films. The society flourished and in 1951 it presented a week long Festival of British Films and in 1953 presented a Coronation Film Festival, in addition to its annual season of films.

The society has used several venues over the years including the St Annes College of Further Education, several hotels in St Annes and then a long spell at the Assembly Rooms, Lytham follwed by a short season at the independent Island Cinema, St Annes, in 2008.

The society relocated to its current venue at Blackpool Odeon in 2009.  This last move and its more central location in the Fylde provided accessibility to a wider catchment area, which prompted the society to change its name to the Fylde Film Society.

As the Fylde Film Society kicks off its new season, I caught up with publicity officer Emma Davison to find out what it’s all about:

CM: Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your role in the Fylde Film Society?
ED: I’ve been the publicity officer of the Fylde Film Society for nearly three years now.  I’m a huge film buff and got frustrated with the lack of decent films showing in the area. I had to travel to The Dukes in Lancaster or Cornerhouse, Manchester, to see the range of films I wanted to see. When I found out about the society, I joined straight away!  I’m responsible for putting together the brochures, posters and communicating our programme through emails and our Facebook page.

CM: Who typically attends the Fylde Film Society screenings?
ED: We have a mix of members at the society including students from local secondary schools, couples, artists, retired people, groups of friends – a whole variety! We’re a friendly bunch and welcome new members.

CM: How is the film selection made?
ED: During the course of the year, a list of about 20 films is put together by the society’s chairman using newspaper and online reviews along with the recommendations of members who are encouraged to make suggestions. Prior to each half season, a list of 12/14 films is finalised, ensuring a balance of subjects, countries of origin and genres that reflect the demographics of the membership. This list of films is emailed to all members who are asked to vote for their preferences.  The final list is then passed to the manager of the Odeon, Blackpool, to confirm the availability of the films from their distributors and schedule the screenings.

Following the screening of each film, members are invited to give their reaction to the film and provide comments which are then compiled and published on the society’s Facebook page, together with a selection of comments, and on the society website.  In addition, members are informed of the reaction index score in the fortnightly emails issued during the season.  At the end of each half season, the reaction index scores are reviewed by the committee to gain a better understanding of the tastes and preferences of the membership.  This helps to shape and influence future programme content

CM: What can members look forward to in the forthcoming season?
ED: We’ve got a great selection of films for the Winter/Spring season 2015 including CitizenFour (documentary about Edward Snowden), Frank (Irish film about a wannabe musician and a strange band) and Birdman (Golden Globe winning black comedy).  It’s a selection with a few ‘known’ films in but others that most won’t have heard of before e.g. Finding Fela, about the man who created Afrobeat.

CM:What can a new member expect on a typical night? Is there a social side to the society or an opportunity to discuss the films?
ED: We offer memberships to each half season of the programme (starting January and September each year)  Gold Membership is £25.00 and provides admission to all eight films (student rate is £20.00). Silver Membership is also available for £10.00 for the half season with an additional charge of £3.00 for each film attended, payable on the night. Both options give a great saving on the usual Odeon price.  Films are shown fortnightly so once you’ve shown your membership card at the desk in Blackpool Odeon, you’re free to make yourself comfortable in the cinema and enjoy an international film with like-minded people (so no chatting or phones going off!)  We also cut out the adverts so we go straight to the film!

Members like to speak afterwards about the films (often with very different opinions) and some cross the road for a drink at Frankie and Benny’s.
The Fylde Film Society welcomes new members. There is a wonderful line up for this season and memberships are still available. Memberships are available from the society’s desk at the Odeon Cinema on the night of each screening.  Payment can be made by cash or by cheque payable to Fylde Film Society.

The start time for the first film in each half-season is delayed until 8.15 p.m. to allow sufficient time for the purchase and renewal of memberships. Guests and members of the public can view films by purchasing a regular ticket from the Odeon box office.

The next film to be screened is Ida on Monday 26 January.


Featured image by Bart of Wikimedia Commons

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