I designed, managed and co-taught two 12-week professional development courses in the theory and practice of film programming, funded by Creative Skillset and supported by Goldsmiths, University of London.

Participants think about the meaning and purpose of programming, and take on practical projects that culminate in researching and running their own film screening events. Course alumni have gone on to work for BFI, MUBI, Film London and Fringe! Queer Arts & Film Festival.

The courses ran in autumn 2016 and 2017. In 2018 I won funding from the British Council’s Art Connects Us programme to research how South African film exhibitors are developing their craft through training, professional development and networks. Learn more

Screen/Play: the theory & practice of film programming

Participants learn the knowledge and skills to plan, produce and promote their own events, and make their own opportunities to work in the film exhibition industry. You will think about the meaning and purpose of programming, and take on practical projects that culminate in running your own film screening events. You’ll also take on a personal research project which will develop your expertise in one area of film culture.

During each session, a professional programmer speak intimately about their careers in film exhibition, and share stories of their biggest successes – and most valuable failures. Participants meet them in a relaxed setting and get to know them informally.

Guest speakers in 2016 and 2017


1. Programming

  • Creative and cultural film programming for festivals, cinemas and film clubs
  • Discovering and engaging your audience/community
  • Meeting a brief
  • Event and film licensing
  • Designing a film festival or film season.

2. Promotion

  • Creating a marketing action plan & timeline
  • Writing brilliant copy and using images & video to sell your event
  • Making social media and word-of-mouth work for you.

3. Production and management

  • Event planning and management
  • Collaborating with venues and other organisations
  • Technical issues
  • Business and financial planning
  • Fundraising & sponsorship
  • Monitoring and evaluation.

Film screening project

The group project challenges participants to work in teams on real-life film screening projects. You will apply everything you have learned in class (including identifying and engaging audiences, licensing, financial planning, funding, developing relationships, using technical equipment and managing events) to the real world of event management. It’ll be hard work, with plenty ups and downs, but you’ll learn a lot – and leave the course with valuable transferable skills.

In 2016-17, projects included the Child’s Eye View season at Deptford Cinema, a screening of Wild Style in Stoke Newington, an as-yet-unrealised Dawn of the Dead in a shopping mall and the launch of film club Remakesploitation at the Cinema Museum.

Personal research project

A personal research project asks participants to investigate a particular area of cinema that interests them, and then curate a programme of screenings and events. We will then encourage you to pitch your ideas to film festivals and venues.

2016-17 projects included Japanese ‘pink’ films, contemporary Francophone African cinema, ‘Dangerous Girls’, Fake News Cinema, Middle Eastern melodrama, cult Bollywood trash, 1970s Greek cinema and Clowns on Film.


In both 2016 and 2017 we recruited 25 participants who were at the beginning of their careers in film exhibition. Course graduates are now working for Film London, Independent Cinema Office and the BFI, as well as programming at Genesis Cinema, Deptford Cinema and Flare! Queer Film Fest.

Our recruitment strategy, content and delivery of the course were designed to empower underrepresented groups  – notably people from Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic and working class backgrounds, and people with disabilities – to enter and thrive within the film exhibition sector.


  • “This is without doubt the best course I have ever studied. It’s been inspirational and to some extent revelatory for me.”
  • “Each session covered the essentials needed from start to finish. The group task as well as personal project helped us to action the theory we learnt.”
  • “One of the real strengths of this course was that the tutors created a relaxed and supportive environment from the start.”
  • “It’s been one of the best things I’ve done all year! I’ve made so many friends, and it’s been great hearing about different stories and career paths.”
  • “I’ve made some really great contacts – both among the other students and with some of the speakers.”
  • “It really was a brilliant, insightful course. And it’s obvious that a lot of hard work and dedication went into it, for which I am really grateful.”


The course is run by New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festivals, a collective of film programmers who run an annual festival of over 30 indoor and outdoor film events attracting 1500 audience members.

Phoenix Fry is a film curator and events manager with over 15 years’ experience delivering training. His career includes BFI Sci-Fi Season (Project Manager), Design on Film at V&A Museum, Film Africa, Nollywood Now! Nigerian Film festival, Deptford Film Club, Sydenham Film Club and The Internet Cat Video Film Festival. He has delivered training for the Barbican, Flipside Film Festival, Film Africa, British Council and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Jacqui Shimidzu is a film events manager, community activist and a Fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. She runs hugely popular outdoor bike-powered screenings for New Cross + Deptford Free Film Festival. She also runs the Hill Station Café (which hosts year-round events ranging from pop-up restaurants and silent discos to Edinburgh Festival previews) and set up a community cinema in New Cross Learning.

This programme was supported by Creative Skillset’s Film Skills Fund, which is funded by the BFI with National Lottery, through the Skills Investment Fund.

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