TWIC 2021: Claire Beswick – Founder, The Living Room Cinema

By | September 30, 2021 3:06 pm PDT

This post is part of CJ’s Top Women In Global Cinema 2021 – Redux.

How have your role, position and responsibilities changed since you were first nominated for Top Women In Cinema?

I’ve made the leap from employee to employer! I left my previous role and started two companies – a cinema consultancy business and I founded a new cinema company. The latter has, understandably, taken a long while to establish. And the consultancy company has taken on contracts I could use to support myself financially whilst getting the start-up off the ground.

How did COVID affect you and your business personally?

I’ve been incredibly fortunate. I’ve picked up contracts in unusual and great places – I helped set up the biggest and most successful Drive In cinema in the UK (The Drive In London) and have been their film programmer ever since. And I worked with BIFA (British Independent Film Awards) on their audience development project, launching a “Back to Cinema” campaign for independent cinemas and films. In terms of the cinema company, things were put on ice for several months – however, we began fundraising towards the end of last year and astonishingly, it all came together. And of course the highlight of “my pandemic” was getting a writing gig at Celluloid Junkie!

How did your role, position and responsibilities change (if at all) during the pandemic? Can you tell us a little bit about what your days were like and what you were doing over the past year?

I’ve never been so busy. I accepted all offers of work which crossed my path – you never know how long the good fortune will last so take it while you can. But it was also incredibly rewarding, especially learning new skills and venturing into new areas. My solace came from the writing. It was “work” without being “work” – and it has been very educating, analysing and learning about what is happening in markets other than the ones I’m most familiar with. I’m even halfway through writing a book using all of the research I have done.

Do you think COVID will change the cinema business? If so, how?

Undoubtedly. It will change audience attitudes, it will change business practices. We all got complacent and too comfortable pre-Covid, and when you come so close to Armageddon you re-evaluate your priorities. I believe that distribution and exhibition will work more closely together for the benefit of the audience, who we know have many different viewing options at their fingertips.

How do you believe the cinema industry can recover once audiences are able to visit movie theatres again?

If we get this right, it has the potential to recover quickly, and better than where we were before in terms of box office. The challenge will be balancing the books. Cinema companies have a huge hole in their finances, but realise that they need to invest in order to draw customers away from their TVs. Fortunately, upgrading the experience will pay dividends quickly. But the opposite is also true – if you cut corners, audiences will vote with their feet and accelerate the decline.

What do you like most about working in the cinema industry? What is one of your fondest memories?

The people, no question. There are so many work achievements and highlights that spring to mind but the fondest memories always revolve around social occasions. Playing in the band on stage on the final night of CineEurope a few years ago was a highlight: seeing the joy on the faces of everyone in the audience and thinking “these are my friends, and this is my industry”. A very special moment.


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