The Fraser Centre: Combining school & public screenings

Last year, The Fraser Centre in Tranent combined school screenings with public screenings – resulting in a positive experience for the whole audience.

(This article forms part of our ongoing Education in Cinema project, supporting exhibitor-led film education across Scotland. The project is funded by Screen Scotland)

The Fraser Centre Community Trust is based in Tranent East Lothian and has a 108-seat cinema as part of the community hub. We asked CEO David Orr to share their experience of combining school and public screenings for foreign-language films: what led them to make the change, how they rolled it out and what their key takeaways were.

Why did you decide to combine school and public screenings?

David Orr: The Trust conducted a public survey in 2022 and asked for feedback on what kind of films people would like to see offered at The Fraser Centre. Through this survey foreign Language films was requested.

We contacted the foreign language department of local high schools and built a relationship which gave us confidence. We also spoke to local French classes whose participants were keen to attend. This provided a platform to build our sales upon. We then researched our film options and were delighted to join the UK French Film Festival in 2023.

We are a part time community cinema within a busy community hub; therefore, we do have to balance our screen time against other events in the building. To put multiple showings of each film on for schools and public would have been a risk for us particularly when we did not know what size of audience to expect. This led us to the decision to do mixed screenings which reduced our risk.

A combined public and school screening at the Fraser Centre

Tell us about the films that you have shown?

The film selection process involved options supplied from the UK French Film Festival and involving the high school from the beginning to identify films they were particularly keen on watching and what day / time would be suitable for them.

The mixed audience of schools and public was for our films as part of the UK French Film Festival. Three films were selected: La Fine Fleur; Les Deux Alfred; and Eugenie Grandet.

La Fine Fleur and Les Deux Alfred were both daytime screenings with Eugenie Grandet in the evening. In total we welcomed 197 people to the three screenings. The daytime screenings reached 160 people with 38% of the daytime audience school children.

How was the initial reaction from public audiences?

The school children were seated first and there were some murmurs from the public when they saw the large groups of young people. However, the same people made a point of commenting on the way out to our staff how well behaved they all were, and it was excellent to see them enjoying the film.

Our seating is generally unreserved. We reserved sections for the schools and if there was more than 1 school, we reserved separate areas so we could still offer a good selection of seating options for the public.

Have you adapted your approach since you started these screenings?

We are delighted with the format which proved to be very successful. We are looking forward to strengthening our partnerships in 2024 and welcome more French films to The Fraser Centre. We are also expanding our cinema programme to include Spanish films in 2024. With the success of the film screenings we have confidently welcomed French film choices that have become available to us via the INDY Cinema Group which we may not have taken previously.

The mixed screenings have led to multi-generational screenings which have proven to be popular with positive feedback from the schools and the public. We will continue to programme these screenings.

Partnerships are key. Working with local schools and clubs as well as finding excellent partners to help with films. We found the knowledge and support from the UK French Film Festival was invaluable to selecting a range of films.


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