In one autumn season we’ve managed to spread the word among the area residents pretty efficiently. Actually, the visitor count has been surprisingly high. There were almost 200 viewers in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia. And a touch over 200 in the Swedish-speaking children’s animation about the little ghost called Laban. The least popular showings have had about 30 spectators.
We didn’t set out to show blockbusters, thinking that “I wish this film will bring a lot of viewers to Artova Kino”. Since there are no entrance fees, Artova Kino’s funds aren’t directly linked to the spectator counts, which is the case with commercial businesses. From the get-go, we wanted to make a name as a movie club that shows films you can rarely catch here in Finland.
We do monitor the numbers, though, and an almost full theatre or the familiar faces that come every week increase the motivation to do this. We’ve wanted that the filmoholics all around the Helsinki area would find their way to Artova Kino. This is what has happened. What we didn’t really achieve was publicity co-operation with the film institutes of the Arabianranta area. In spite of actively informing the schools, we didn’t get film students to visit our shows. So, we have been thinking about how to develop better co-operation with the film schools, one possibility being that we could somehow combine their teaching with the Artova Kino program. A viable idea, bearing in mind that we’ve already had a guest speaker (such as Susanna Helke, Esa Illi and Kari Yli-Annala) to give a little introductory speech before each of the shows (excluding the children’s shows).
For us organizing it all, the biggest challenge is to put the program together early enough with all the guest speakers and the optional pre-show clips. This far we’ve been able to confirm the guest speaker pretty much on the last minute. That’s a problem since we should be able to inform the schools of our program when the teachers are planning their courses for the coming semester.
Often in regional activities like this, it seems it’s more important to incorporate many different instances than to launch massive publicity campaigns. Different instances (such as schools) bring in their wake their own people, contacts and ideas. This applies to visitor counts as well. While we have been fairly active with different media and attracted quite a few people that way, we feel that the commitment to return to the same movie club over and over again has to do with both good experiences with the films and feeling good about the organization and the place where the shows are.
We’ve had quite few mistakes that have tolled the visitor count. We’ve had some problems with our copies of films – sometimes our copies were so late we didn’t get to show them on the agreed night. Fortunately, though, we’ve been able to show all the programmed films eventually. Although all this “home-grown”, unofficial vibe is a positive thing and make it easy for people to come to us, too much uncertainty eats at our credibility. If the viewer can’t be sure if she’ll be able to see the film we’ve said we’d show in the program, she might not bother leaving home at all. It mustn’t get too serious but at the same time the basics need to run smoothly. That’s the balance you’ll want to have.
Translation by Pigasus Translations.