With the rocketing popularity of online streaming apps, it’s never been easier to watch the latest films at the touch of a button. Yet people still flock to the cinema, whether it be to the city multiplexes for the new blockbusters or the smaller independent cinemas to catch something a little less mainstream – indie, foreign, documentary. Of course, this is partly due to the anticipation that film studios manage to drum up to convince people that they have to see films as soon as humanly possible, but it’s also down to the cinema experience as a whole. The banked seats, the lights dimming, the trailers reminding you that after this trip there’ll be plenty more reasons for you to come back, and finally the main event – seeing the film in the environment the film-makers intended it to be seen, the magic of having the screen run the show, no pausing for bathroom breaks, no need for anyone to be on volume control to enable everyone to hear the quietly spoken key plot elements and prevent anyone from being deafened during the chase scenes. At the cinema, the film is king.

The Mearns Community Cinema group was the brainchild of the Mearns Youth Forum who, a couple of years ago, decided that the people of Laurencekirk deserved to be able to watch films on the big screen without having to journey elsewhere for the privilege. There were humble beginnings for the group, the low attendances testament to the difficulties of alerting a community to a new group starting up. Over the last couple of years, under the expert leadership of the Community Development team, the group has grown to involve more members of the community, as well as keeping strong links with the youth forum. Grown too has the support from the community, resulting in more regular and better attended showings. It has been a learning curve for all involved, with some technical issues causing a couple of showings to be cancelled at late notice (the very worst outcome in the eyes of the group) and poor attendances at showings that clashed with other local events. Before the summer the decision was made to move the group to community ownership in order to further integrate the group with the community. This gave the group a chance to re-evaluate our purpose, our priorities and our ‘Why?’. For those of you interested (if you’ve made it this far I assume I can include you in this demographic) the main aims of the group are to develop and deliver a community led, locally based experience which will provide: access to culture through the medium of cinema for all sectors of the community; an inclusive opportunity for social interaction; and an affordable, high quality, friendly alternative to city based Multiplex cinemas.

Despite our best efforts we still do sometimes hear of people mentioning that they didn’t know a certain showing was coming up or that they weren’t sure of the date or that they didn’t even know of the existence of the group at all. One of the things the group want to aim for is that as many people in the community as possible are aware of us and the events we have planned. In this respect, if there’s anything you think we can do more of, less of or something we’re doing in exactly the right quantity then please let us know! The group is made up of members of the community and its purpose is to serve the community so we want all the feedback we can get which we will then endeavour to translate into action. We have been very lucky to date that we have received so much support from members of the Laurencekirk and surrounding communities, we hope that we will see you at future showings and that you will help us to spread the word about the group.

Soon we have our relaunch with a FREE showing of the outstanding classic “Casablanca”, very kindly funded by our friends at NEAT (North East Arts Touring) based at Woodend Barn in Banchory (another fantastic cinema, amongst other things). There will be a few tweaks to the process, a few new faces amongst the volunteers and a few nerves from the committee now that we are masters of the group’s destiny, but overall our intention remains the same – to bring the magic of cinema to the people of Laurencekirk and the surrounding areas in a friendly and inclusive environment.

For updates and information of events coming up you can do one of the following:

Check our Facebook page;

Keep an eye out for posters throughout the area – shops, cafes, noticeboards, train station, post office, hairdressers, etc;

Sign up to our mailing list by emailing your request to mearnscommunitycinema@gmail.com;

Or if you have any specific questions, want to know more about the group or want to be part of the group, please feel free to get in touch with us via Facebook, email or by chatting to one the group at a showing.

We hope to see you soon!

Jamie Leigh, Chairperson

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