A Message from Mike

It has been over a year since Edel and Dany trustingly left Minicine in the vastly inexperienced hands of yours truly. I had no prior experience in film programming, events promotion or anything relevant to the task at hand. That is of course, for a knowledge and understanding of film, and more importantly, an immense passion for the medium and the belief that these moving image tales can move, inspire, enlighten and entertain. I began with the drive to address the problem that there are so many films, whether new or old, that have evaded audiences due to the tricky minefield of commercial film distribution. It was this issue, this gap in the market if you will, that spurred me on to try and bring what I considered to be ‘hidden gems’ to Armley Mills every month.

Even considering Armley Mills’ limited capacity of twenty six, it was still a constant task to run the whole operation myself, considering that Minicine is a strictly non-profit organisation and all work is undertaken voluntarily, it was draining. Add to this that the vision and aspirations I had for it were far from being fulfilled. Luckily, I‘m not the only one with such a cinephilic passion. Kel (who loves cake and clothes) the resident cake baker and general all round last minute helper has saved the day many times. Then there’s Jamie (of TQS fame) who pitched in before leaving West Yorkshire for the smog. And Adam, who inspired our Cine-Polskie event and wrote a cracking application for our Best Film Programming award. But Woody, already an ever-present Mninicine regular, took on the task more seriously than any, picking up on the short film element of the programme to begin with, only to pick up more of my slack, stepping up as co-director and widening the scope of Minicine, expanding its reach into the centre of Leeds with the Films From The Bakery season.

Over the last few months, as my MA came to a head, and my thesis – on film festivals and cinephilia, which anyone can request a copy of if you’d like by emailing mike.mckenny1983@gmail.com (end plug) – I’ve had less and less ability to get everything done and Wood has increasingly ran the show. In addition to this, an unmissable opportunity has come my way recently; the opportunity to help restore a cinema in the Great Horton region of Bradford – you’ll hear plenty about The Plaza in the future, but it’d help a great deal if you go like the Facebook page and Follow it on Twitter, cheers (end another plug). For these reasons my available time, effort and mental capacity has been diverted further and further from Minicine, all the while leaving more of a void needing to be filled in order for Minicine to continue. Had Woody not taking to the task with such vigour, Minicine wouldn’t be here now, nor would it be continuing into an even grander vision for the next year. It’s only reasonable then, that henceforth, Woody will be the sole director and visionary force behind Minicine.

We’ve had a few months of sharing such a title, but in my opinion, artistic vision, though bolstered by collaboration and support, often thrives best when there is a single driving influence. Management by committee is perfectly adequate way to manage a film society, but lacks the kind of flair, drive and personal ownership that leads to magic like the winning of a national award. i.e. the British Federation of Film Societies’ award for Best Film Programming, which we won last month. Yet this does not mean that Minicine should be a solo endeavour. More than ever, and with the interest we should have generated from our award win, Minicine can welcome more volunteers than ever onto its committee to help with specific jobs, lend an extra cinephile mind to decisions made and to help with suggestions and hair-brain schemes that may not have been considered.

So if you’re interested in developing your film programming skills, events promotion, or you just love cinema and want Minicine to reach its potential, then email minicine@live.co.uk to register interest and we’ll tell you more about what you can do. I’ll be sticking around as volunteer, committee member and treasurer so you’ll still see me around.
This system of passing the torch, or the baton of curatorship, from Dany and Edel to me, and from me to Woody leads Minicine into a strong position. It has a strong identity that is recognisable no matter who the custodian, but can also be adaptable and dynamic, with the ability to evolve with each new era, taking what has made it such a success, but adding all the time. Maybe you could be the next Mr or Mrs Minicine a year or two down the line.

– Mike McKenny


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