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The team behind the Creative Europe funded project CINNOVATE visited Dublin recently and we caught up with them to find out more about their project.

CINNOVATE aims to re-engage audiences for the big screen experience and European film. The project was funded under the Cinemas as Local Innovative Hubs call back in 2020 which aimed to fund projects that could help cinemas to innovate and increase their audiences.

The Creative Europe Desk Network organised a matchmaking session for organisations interested in applying for the Call. All the partners were at this session and teamed up for the project which was ultimately funded by Creative Europe.

Ireland’s access>CINEMA, one of the three leading European Arthouse Cinema Networks, has teamed up with Cologne-based VOD and digital distribution experts Rushlake Media and independent consultant Jan Runge. Additional content and network partners are the Event Cinema Association (UK), Spielfabrique (Germany) and IMZ International Music + Media Centre (Austria).

For their second in-person meeting on Monday 28th February in Lighthouse Cinema, Maeve Cooke from access>Cinema, Armin Hack from Rushlake Media, and consultant, Jan Runge, took the opportunity to present the project to the members of access>CINEMA who were in Dublin for a screening day in Lighthouse Cinema. MEDIA Office Dublin was delighted to host a lunch for them on the day.

Orla Clancy caught up with them afterwards to see how the project was progressing.

Describing the project in a nutshell, Jan Runge explains, ‘We’re using a proven and tested VOD platform which connects local cinemas and local cinema going and we are enhancing it with very innovative features such as Gaming, E-Sports, VR, Educational, online Screenings, Crowd source and Jukebox screenings.’

All digital features of the platform, which builds on the successfully operating service ‘Kino on Demand’ in Germany, are designed to re-engage with existing and new film fans in order to bring them back to the cinema. A much needed objective after the devastating impacts of the COVID crisis has had, and continues to have, on cinema admissions across Europe.

The project started in summer 2021 and they’ve been working together through virtual meetings and an in-person meeting in Dusseldorf last September. Speaking in Dublin during their second in person meeting, Jan Runge explained the stage the project is at: ‘We have the developer in Dublin this week and we will be finalising elements on the new platform which will be launched later this year.’

To see which areas could work, part of the project entails offering financial incentives to the local cinemas to try out different aspects of the platform. When asked whether there was one area which cinemas were more in favour of, the team said that there doesn’t seem to be a preference. Certain elements are already in place in different countries.

In Slovenia, during the pandemic, they had rolled out their own version of a VOD platform for the cinemas whereas in Sweden, the Jukebox cinema where audiences vote on upcoming screenings has proven quite popular. On the platform there will be voucher system where after screening events like films or film talks, the viewer will receive a voucher to be used in the cinema itself.

Armin Hack, Rushlake Media, explains that ‘the nice thing with the vouchers is that they are run very successfully in Germany so it’s tried and tested.'

When asked if there is a particular area that they would like to see in enhanced in cinemas, Maeve said that in Ireland, they ‘are quite interested across our access>CINEMA network in terms of the gaming and VR elements from the point of view of attracting new audiences, particularly younger audiences.’

Jan expanded on this: ‘All the cinema companies in the world and also many smaller ones are trying gaming out at the moment but nobody has really found the silver bullet yet, to be honest which is why I think this local approach of giving small local cinemas financial incentives to test out different aspects such as Gaming or VR could be the trick. Otherwise they’re testing out something that they don’t have the time or resources to engage with as they are trying to run a cinemas we’re hoping that this financial nudge will work.’

Maeve: ‘But also I think in terms of VR, that can be intergenerational particularly around the arts. There’s been a lot of work in that area in the arts. So that could be something that could attract older generations and also a curious new audience.’

Jan: ‘If I was living in a small town and the cinema offered a VR opportunity, I’d go and test it out!’

Maeve: ‘And this would be a way of getting people into a cinema and rediscovering their local cinema.’

We look forward to future CINNOVATE events, and will keep you updated!

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