Meet the Programme Manager
Great to be in touch with you all - and there is lots going on as usual. As we get nearer to opening, the team is beginning to take shape in terms of running an actual cinema. With this in mind, we are very pleased to introduce Claire Beswick
Claire has been on the team for over a year – and has been expertly guiding the development of ideas and strategy in terms of the setting up and running a successful cinema.
As an independent consultant with many years of experience, she is an expert in her field. Claire’s experience has and will be very important in making The Parade Cinema a vital part of Marlborough’s community.
Our film line-up is in very good hands...
Claire says: I have spent my career doing a job that most people don't know exists. Indeed, I had no idea what a film programmer was until six months before I started doing it. Like many in the cinema business, I started on the shop floor. I was studying Music at university, and instead of working part-time in a bar or restaurant, I worked at the local multiplex: a nine-screen cinema in Harrow, North London. Almost immediately, I knew my heart lay in film, not Music. When I wasn't working, I was sitting in an auditorium watching films. It was a very urban mainstream programme and did very well with films telling stories from minority backgrounds due to Harrow's multicultural audience. I hadn't realised it at the time, but each of those decisions was entirely deliberate, and I was being exposed to worlds, via the power of films, that I would have never visited otherwise. My taste evolved in a slightly indie direction, and I took a placement at independent distributor Pathe and worked for the BFI's London Film Festival. My film education was well underway. Between cinema screenings I would catch up on classics that I had missed growing up. I, like most people, hadn't really spent too much time thinking about how the films got to the cinema - even when I was working in one. They just sort of arrived. But now, I was beginning to understand that there's actually a level of skill involved. With up to 700 or so films released a year, you had to pick the right one. And every studio wanted their films to play, in as many cinemas as possible, for as long as possible. It was the buyers/programmers job to piece together a programme suitable for the audience, and no two cinemas' audiences are alike. Within six months of graduating, I was working as a trainee Film Booker at ODEON Cinemas, a company I stayed with for 11 years until I left to head up the Programming team at Curzon Cinemas, satisfying my arthouse / independent whims. I am now what industry articles refer to as a 'veteran' (which I'm not entirely happy about), have been named as one of the top 50 Women in Global Cinema, and listed in Celluloid Junkie's "40 Under 40" top execs in the Cinema business. I have been running my own freelance consultancy company for several years with several programming clients, I teach at the National Film and Television School, and advise on cinema construction and development. In 2017 I founded a cinema company focusing on small independent cinemas in small towns. We too, offer programming and management services and will be taking on the film programming for The Parade. I have been involved with The Parade for a little over a year now, originally joining as a consultant to advise on cinema operations matters. I have worked with David (the General Manager) before: I was his film programmer when he managed ODEON Oxford, and we have both worked at Curzon Cinemas. It's a very small industry, and I'm delighted to be working with him once again. In late summer, we will be finalising what the opening film programme is to look like. I will be creating a strategy to encompass something for everyone, including accessible screenings, parent and baby screenings, and autism-friendly screenings. There will be the odd hidden gem nestled in there, which you may not be aware of, and a regular art-house or independent film slot. We open at an exciting time. After a difficult year in which Hollywood has delayed all of its blockbusters, we can take advantage of them when we re-open. This cinema was originally scheduled to open around the time of the new Bond film. Both projects have been delayed and fortuitously coincide in September this year. It looks like we will get off to a flying start'.