Why does it cost as much as it does to see a film at Film Loughton?
So, the other night my mum said to me ‘ I’ve got this lovely film on DVD that you could show at your film club and I could let you have it so it wouldn’t cost you anything’. Well I tried to explain to her that it didn’t exactly work like that, and that I didn’t fancy ‘doing time’ for breaking copyright law, but then it occurred to me that there probably aren’t many people who understand the economics of a film club and how it all does actually work. Time to get typing!
As a film club we are not allowed to show ‘normal’ DVD’s. The next time you play a DVD in your own home have a look at the Copyright notice, yeah it’s the one right at the beginning that everyone ignores, it actually says something along the lines of: ‘playing this DVD in public is a criminal offence’. Now, you will never see that displayed on a DVD at Film Loughton because it isn’t on our copies. We hire special copies and purchase a special licence which allows us to show the DVD once to the public.
I am going to use the July screening of 'Eddie the Eagle' for my figures where the licence cost £120.
Then we have the cost of hiring the hall (£17 per hour), plus the bar (£11.50 per hour). We start setting up at 6.00 pm on a screening night and finish around 10.00 pm, that gives us 4 hours at £28.50 an hour. You might say that we aren’t actually using these areas but no-one else can use them while we are busy setting up so we are liable for the costs.
Licence = £120 (for ‘Eddie the Eagle’ but it can be more, depending on the film)
Hall 4 hours x £28.50 per hour = £114
Now, members pay £5.50 a ticket and non-members £6.50 so it’s fair to assume an average of £6, Divide £234 (costs) by £6 (average ticket price) and you end up with us needing 39 people at a screening to break even (£234/£6). We do make a small amount of money on the bar and raffle but then we have to pay out for the raffle prizes and candles & sweeties on your tables (those of you who booked ahead). All of the work is done by volunteers so at least we don’t have any wages to pay.
Questions you might well ask:
Why don’t you just charge a bit more?
i) Well, if it was too much no-one would come! (and we do exist to promote local cinema in Loughton).
ii) we would lose our status as a non-profit organization and become a commercial operation which would vastly increase the cost of our Public Display Licence.
Why don’t you show the film in my back garden?
Well you don’t have a Public Entertainment Licence or a Fire Certificate; you’re not Licenced as a Public Venue and you don’t have an Alcohol Licence. The venues that we use have all of these.
Why don’t you get a local firm to sponsor you in return form an advert or two?
Well that would turn everything into a commercial operation and the cost of the various licences would increase dramatically.
What’s in it for our viewers?
Well, you get to see everything on a big screen, no matter how hard you try you will never have a telly as big as our screen. You get the benefit of 3500 W of sound system. Your top-end Dolby 5.1 surround sound system at home might reach as much as 1750W, although it will probably be more like 350W, your TV soundbar will be about 35-50W and the built-in TV speakers on their own will be about 10-20W. Our system allows the faintest sounds to be heard, try listening for footsteps and cupboard doors closing, easy to hear on our system, much less likely at home.
Now, it is important to note that Film Loughton does not exist to make a profit, (indeed, we are classed as a ‘non-profit organization’) but we have recently bought a new sound system (at a cost of around £2,800*) and we would eventually like to upgrade our projector too. Imagine a projector was the same price. Now, if you consider that we had an audience of 47 for Eddie the Eagle in July. Two of those would be ‘golden ticket’ winners from June, that leaves 45 payers. Minus 39 to break even, so we made a gain of 6 x £6 = £36 for our funds. If we show 10 films a year then at that rate it will take:
£2,800/(£36 x 10) = about 8 years to buy a projector if we relied exclusively on ticket sales, which sounds about right! We do apply for grants and also have membership fees to help reduce this time, which is just as well as our audiences are sometimes smaller than we would like!
So, a bit of information for you to digest in case you were wondering where your ticket money, raffle ticket money, membership fees and kind donations go, and why everything costs as much as it does!
* Our thanks to our members, our public and Loughton Town Council (via grants). Your generous contributions and support made this purchase possible.