This week’s Sector Spotlight is on the Leisure and Sport Industry. Today we hear from Mark Jenkins who is the Chair and Programmer for West Side Cinema.
Mark’s career has come full circle. He has worked in cinemas, gone to university, won a Scottish BAFTA and finally he helped set up the voluntary community cinema in Stromness – West Side Cinema.
Can you describe a typical day in your job?
My job, as with everyone involved in West Side Cinema, is a voluntary one. I’m Chair of the trust, which has 5 trustees and meets at least 4 times per year.
The main part of my job entails collecting a long list of possible films to show for the committee to vote on, booking films, creating Facebook and website content, choosing music for the screening, choosing a short film to show in support of the feature, helping set up for the cinema night, and running the actual film show.
When we have special events there can be a whole host of other things to organise, from helping set up a wine bar to organising travel and accommodation for a visiting director.
How did you end up in your current role?
I’ve sort of come full circle in my career. My first real job at the age of 18 was as a Trainee Projectionist at Odeon, Chester. I quickly learnt the job and later became Senior Projectionist and then Chief Projectionist.
In 1992 I decided to move to Scotland and became Chief Projectionist at The Cameo in Edinburgh. That was the best career move of my life! The Cameo was completely different to what I’d experienced before, showing a very alternative programme, and once a year was part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. EIFF was an incredible experience, meeting directors, producers and actors from all over the world. I have many amazing stories, too many to tell here!
At the Cameo many of the staff were also film students at Napier University, and I quickly became part of a fantastic network of friends and associates. I was very interested in making films so offered to work voluntary on student productions.
All films in cinemas were projected on 35mm in those days, so working with actual film was very natural to me. That meant that I became a useful person in the camera department, loading film into film magazines and being a camera assistant.
Filmmaking became my passion, and I successfully applied to study Film & TV Production at Napier, specialising in Cinematography and Screenwriting. At the end of my studies I got the chance to edit for the first time ever a student film (on 16mm film, editing on a Steenbeck). That resulted in me winning a Scottish BAFTA for Best Technician, and I never looked back. 23 years later I’m still editing, filmmaking and working on other creative arts projects.
In 2012 the story comes full circle as I helped set up a voluntary community cinema in Stromness - West Side Cinema.
What is the best thing about your job?
There’s lots of things to do with the curation of the programme - getting the music and the supporting short film, and also the presentation of the evening.
Most of all I love being part of the audience. I very rarely see a film before we show it at West Side, so it’s always taking a bit of a risk. The feeling I get watching a film on the big screen for the first time with other people is like nothing else.
What is the worst thing about your job?
Finding that a film that the committee have picked has been snapped up by Netflix and will never get a cinema release.
What skills do you need to undertake your role?
What qualifications do you have?
My highest qualification is a Post Graduate Diploma in Film & TV Production.
But the job at the cinema doesn’t really need any qualifications. Being able to work under pressure and being nice to people is much more important!
Would you recommend this job to young people, if so why?
Although it’s a voluntary job, doing this at a younger age would put you in very good stead for other type of work in the future. Starting in voluntary cinema work could very well progress to a full time cinema job, and the event management skills learnt are easily transferrable to other sectors. We’re always looking for young volunteers, so just get in touch!
You can visit West Side Cinema on their:
Website – https://wscinema.wordpress.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/westsidecinema/