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?
Today my position is the same in the company. However, I feel at home in my role, which was not yet the case in 2016. I am now much better at delegating certain tasks which allows me to have more time to think of new ideas and to try to innovate.
How did COVID affect you and your business personally?
The most difficult thing during this period was to have been in constant expectation of a decision to close and open theaters. The first lockdown was a shock, but we were able to reopen after three months. The second lockdown of cinemas lasted almost six months. People were bored and it created a period of fear and uncertainty about the future.
Obviously, financially it is still difficult and we are not out of the woods yet. But this period allowed us to reinvent ourselves and engage in new projects. Also, it allowed us to put some things in place faster than we would have done. The pandemic has only accelerated the change already underway. For example, since 2018 I have been talking about designing an Escape Room to replace one of our, no longer profitable, screens. Well, the project was completed in less than a year, and we are now opening two Escape rooms in Vevey in mid-June, inspired by the Harry Potter and The Shining movies.
I’m a pretty optimistic person, but I was having a really bad time last year, and, in a way, the first lockdown allowed me to get back to the essentials. I experienced a great personal and professional reckoning and questioning of what I wanted to do, moving forward. The arrival of COVID was beneficial to me and allowed me to reconnect with myself.
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?
My role has not changed, in terms of my responsibilities, but I have mainly learned to delegate. My goal in the medium term is to withdraw from global operational management to focus on strategy, and to withdraw from certain time-consuming tasks to free time up for myself. And to be able to follow my dreams.
As I said before, I have reviewed my life goals, and I have unfulfilled dreams. First, I needed to reconnect with the basics, and I started gardening. Apparently, I have a green thumb, and contact with the earth allows me to recharge my batteries. Then, I embarked on various online training courses to help me be more efficient for the business and to refocus on myself.
Last week, I completed my Federal Certificate as a specialist in SME management. And especially in the last four months I have followed two therapeutic training courses related to well-being. I have resumed writing a book, started a long time ago and never completed! And next year, I’ll finally get back on the stage as an actress.
Do you think COVID will change the cinema business? If so, how?
There is clearly a “before” and an “after” COVID. For the moment, customers are delighted to reinvest in cinemas, like amazed children. We have to imagine the future differently, but for me it is not just because of COVID. As I said, this pandemic has only accelerated things.
How do you believe the cinema industry can recover once audiences are able to visit movie theatres again?
I think we need to reinvent ourselves. Cinema will never disappear. At least I don’t think so. We have to tell ourselves that the cinema is not just the film, but it’s the room a movie plays in a cinema, and that in this hall we can do a thousand and one different things.
The cinema is also the place of lovers, of first kisses, of suspense, of intense emotions… It is a place that makes you dream with an atmosphere; you are well seated there, with a large screen, and enveloping sound. The cinema remains the place that is open to all. Its goal: to make people dream and see them go out with the stars in their eyes.
We must create new breath through sharing and creating connections, which is why cinema exists in the first place. We must design multi-function rooms so that we can make a tea dance for seniors at 4pm, while in the morning play a film for mothers with young children and in the evening host a themed conference. All this is not new, and several cinemas in the world are doing it, but I think it is essential for cinemas like ours, that want to be close to their audience and in the city center, to follow this path.
I think that arthouse and qualitative movies have more of a future than blockbusters in the cinema. But of course we will always be showing big movies, without them we can’t get by, at the end of the day. And as far as I’m concerned, I have nothing against VOD (Video On Demand) – I think on the contrary that we have to ally ourselves with the big names in this market, and not fight against them.
We are in the process of creating specific themed programs with special guests and Q&A / debates at the end of certain films such as “Planète(s) Femmes”, a successful example in 2019. The aim of these turnkey programs is to be able to offer them to other cinemas in Switzerland and to save them time with figuring out their procedures. We would then receive a small percentage for the work we provide.
We are also in the process of creating a festival for next year on the theme of “identity”. The goal is to mix the art of dance, theater and cinema, to achieve multiculturalism with the different talents of the region.
We set up projects within certain municipalities around events, debates, conferences, room rental (at lower costs), or to private individuals for video games, watching series or wedding films.
What do you like most about working in the cinema industry? What is one of your fondest
What do I like the most? The fact that we sell dreams.
On a more serious note, I enjoy meetings with distributors and other operators, of course, but also and above all with our guests.
I have to admit that I have a lot of pretty amazing memories, and I really have a hard time naming just one. I would say, to pick up on the previous question, that my most incredible memories are all about meeting people. Whether it is the director who comes to present their film at the end of the session, or the one with whom we eat a fondue while the film is being screened, it is this moment when we get to know each other, when we share who we are and why we are here together… I love sharing with others.
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- Complete List: CJ’s Top Women In Cinema Post
- CJ’s Top Women In Global Cinema Redux – 2021 - September 30, 2021
- TWIC 2021: Suzie Welch – Chief People Officer, Odeon Cinemas Group - September 30, 2021
- TWIC 2021: Carol Welch – Managing Director UK, Ireland & Commercial Officer OCG Europe, Odeon Cinemas Group - September 30, 2021