We spoke to the Film Unit ‘s Publicity Officer Billy Thurley about the Sheffield-based independent cinema and what they will be showing between now and the end of the university year.
Q: Give us a little background into the Film Unit and what you hope to provide…
A: Well, Film Unit is an independent cinema run by volunteers, and based in the The University of Sheffield’s Students’ Union. We are here to provide a professional cinema experience, at the cheapest possible price. Most of our showings are £2.50. We have been established for 65 years now, and we are still going strong.
Q: Would you you give us a run down of what is on for the remainder of the semester?
A: This is the Semester when we show a lot of Oscar nominated films, which we are all really excited for. I am personally looking forward to The Grand Budapest Hotel , as I adore everything by Wes Anderson. Her has been my favourite so far, but I am a sucker for really cute films.
The surprise smash hit, The Lego Movie , has also been added to our showing list. We chose this for families and children, because Film Unit is a cinema for everyone, not just students.
Q: Any special screenings happening from now until the end of the semester?
A: We have a special screening on the 12th of May – it is a free screening of an independent film, Adieu Marx , all about anarchist commune in East London, following Steve who rents a room there.
Q: It appears you are always on the look out for ushers and other helpers – is that still the case? What help do you need, and why should people come and join the Film Unit team?
A: Film Unit is a little army of volunteers. A lot of the committee started as humble ushers (I know I did) and worked their way up. All you have to do is have a chat with us – I promise we are a lovely bunch!
Working roles include ushers, fire officers, house managers and projectionists. I think being a projectionist is a particularly fantastic role, as sometimes they get to use our ancient 35mm projector whom we have lovingly named Vicky. What is wonderful is that if you work for a screening, you see the film for free.
Q: How has it being going this uni year so far? Have ticket sales been good? Any particular highlights?
A: Our best seller was Frozen which completely sold out – that is 390 seats filled. So good in fact, it was shown again by popular demand. What was best about it was the atmosphere. Laughing as a big crowd, and enjoying the film together is what turns a regular trip to the cinema into a wonderful night out. Oscar nominated films often sell the most tickets, I should know, since I had to count the 221 tickets sold at Gravity .
Q: What is so great about the Film Unit?
A: In our advertising we place our emphasis on the amazing films we show. But, without getting too sentimental, our greatest asset is the atmosphere our staff create at each and every screening. Just last year we won the award for Commitment to Inclusions at the University Activities Awards. We come from all kinds of backgrounds, with varying tastes in film, yet we are all committed to delivering the best cinema experience possible.
Q: Where can we catch the Film Unit? Twitter, Facebook, etc?
A: We have a significant social media presence with over a thousand followers on Twitter . We also update our to make sure everyone knows what is happening, not just advertising films mind you, but also alerting our fans for opportunities to get involved. We are selecting the films for next semester soon, so we sent out a message to remind everyone that they can make their own suggestion via our own website.
Now, you are the first outside the committee to know this, and it is early days yet, but our webmaster Jordan has plans for a Film Unit app, so film fans can stay up to date on what we are doing.
Our reach goes beyond the internet though, with our very own radio show every Sunday evening. Anyone can listen to it through the union’s Forge Radio. It is hosted by veteran committee member Sam, and he is frequently joined by various members of Film Unit. We discuss the films we are going to be showing in the coming week, as well as recent movie news. It is a laid-back programme and we try and have a few laughs with it.
The Film Unit’s schedule for the remainder of the semester can by clicking here.