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Glossary of community cinema terms

Not sure what a phrase or acronym means? Take a look below to find out the meaning of some of the most common community cinema terms.

A

Amplifier
An amplifier increases the power of a sound signal. It is usually plugged in to a DVD or Blu-ray player and then connected to a speaker system. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

AV – Audiovisual
Audiovisual refers to anything that combines sound and vision, such as films. Audiovisual equipment includes DVD players, projectors and sound systems. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

B

BFFC rating
The British Board of Film Classification gives an age rating – such as PG, 12, 15 or 18 – to all films for exhibition in the UK. It’s a legal requirement for anyone screening films to make sure their audience members are old enough to watch each film according to its classification.

BFI Collections Information Database (CID)
The BFI Collections Information Database (CID) is the BFI's catalogue of all the film assets it holds, including films and collection material such as posters and scripts, as well as information about these films.

BFI Explore website
BFI Explore is the BFI's public film database website. It’s free for anyone to use to discover information about a huge range of films and actors, along with recommendations of great films to watch.

BFI Neighbourhood Cinema
BFI Neighbourhood Cinema is part of the BFI’s Film Forever programme. It aims to bring new film experiences to communities across the UK, no matter where they live. This website is the online home of BFI Neighbourhood Cinema. All community cinemas are welcome to register their cinema to join the nationwide BFI Neighbourhood Cinema community.

BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Equipment Fund
As part of BFI Neighbourhood Cinema, the BFI is awarding equipment to eligible community cinemas through its Equipment Fund.

BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Profile Number
Your community cinema will receive this number when you create a profile on the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema website. It can be found at the top right hand corner of your profile page. Please use this number in all of your future BFI Neighbourhood Cinema funding applications.

BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Touring Fund
New and existing touring cinema operators can apply to the BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Touring Fund, which aims to bring cinema experiences and more specialised and independent British films to communities across the UK.

Blu-ray and/or DVD 
DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) and Blu-ray discs are discs containing all of a film’s data in a ready-to-play format. Around 85% of community cinemas screen their films from DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) or Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray discs are the newer format, and can store footage at higher definition than DVDs. Blu-ray players can also play DVDs. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

Box office returns
Box office returns are a record of information such as the audience size and the amount of money taken in tickets sales. Depending on which licence a film has, community cinemas may need to file box office returns to the film’s distributor after its screening.

C

Cinema For All (formerly British Federation of Film Societies - BFFS)
Cinema For All is the national support and development organisation for the film society and community cinema movement, formed in 1946.

Cinema provision
The availability of cinema access in a specific area.

Commercial or Theatrical licence 
A Commercial (or Theatrical) licence is a type of film licence that gives the licensee legal rights to screen the film. It’s suitable for cinemas that sell individual tickets to their screenings, either in advance and/or on the door. Cinemas using this film licence may also sell memberships. The cost of this licence depends on how many people are in the audience, and cinemas using this licence must file box office returns to show how many people attended and much money was taken in ticket sales. Find out more about licences community cinemas need.

Community cinema
A community cinema is a cinema run by local people screening films in their community. They are usually non-profit organisations and take place in venues such as community or village halls, churches, pubs or arts centres. Community cinemas often screen films regularly – perhaps on a monthly basis – and most charge their audiences a lower ticket price than commercial cinemas, making them more accessible to everyone.

Company number or charity registration number
This should be the number listed on Companies House or the Charity Commission website for a registered organisation.

D

DCP – Digital Cinema Package
A DCP is a type of film format. It’s a package of sound, visual and data files that comprise the final film itself, and it is the digital equivalent of a 35mm film. It’s a high quality format and is often used in larger or commercial cinemas. A DCP is often stored on a hard drive or a USB flash drive, but can also be distributed via the internet. 

Distributor
A distributor is the company, organisation or person that looks after the key aspects of a film’s marketing and distribution. Community cinemas can book films directly through distributors. Each distributor may have different terms for the hire of each film.

DVD and/or Blu-ray
DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) and Blu-ray discs are discs containing all of a film’s data in a ready-to-play format. Around 85% of community cinemas screen their films from DVDs (Digital Versatile Discs) or Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray discs are the newer format, and can store footage at higher definition than DVDs. Blu-ray players can also play DVDs. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

E

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

F

FAN – Film Audience Network
The Film Audience Network (FAN) is a network made up of nine groups of organisations (Film Hubs) all over the UK. It’s funded by the BFI to provide local investment and support to film activities.

FHLO – Film Hub Lead Organisation
Each of the nine regional groups that make up the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) across the UK is called a Film Hub. Each Film Hub is led by one of its member organisations, appointed as the Film Hub Lead Organisation (FHLO). Each FHLO is responsible for leading and supporting the organisations in its Film Hub.

Filmbank
Filmbank is one of the major film distributors and offers a large database of movies for hire. Community cinema organisers can order films and arrange each title’s screening license through the Filmbank booking service.  Discover more distributors here.

Film Forever
Film Forever is the BFI’s five year strategic plan, published in October 2012. BFI Neighbourhood Cinema is one of the three key parts of the Film Forever plan and aims to fulfil the objective to ‘boost audience choice across the UK’.

Film Hub
Each of the nine regional groups that make up the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) across the UK is called a Film Hub.

Film programme
A list or timeline of the films that will be screened in your community cinema or film society/club.

Film society or club
A film society or club is a not-for-profit membership club where people can watch screenings of films that may typically be shown in mainstream cinemas.

Full HD – Full high definition
Full HD is a high quality format for moving images, usually assuming they’ll be screened at 16:9 widescreen. Full HD is also called 1080p, which refers to the number of pixels it uses. Full HD offers high quality image sharpness.

Funding
Community cinemas can apply for funding from a variety of organisations. Funding may take the form of monetary funds, physical equipment or other types of financial assistance. Cinemas don’t need to repay any funding they receive.

G

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

H

HDMI cable ­– High-Definition Multimedia Interface cable
An HDMI cable is a high-definition cable that connects a Blu-ray or DVD player to a projector. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

I

ICO – Independent Cinema Office
The ICO is the national public organisation for the development and support of independent film exhibition in the UK. It works with film societies and independent and community cinemas to offer programming advice, training and enquiries.

J

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

K

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

L

Legal status
The category under which an organisation has been created by law (i.e. universities or government/local authorities) or is registered under law (i.e. registered charity, community interest company, limited liability partnership or company).

Licences for a film
It's a legal requirement for community cinemas to make sure they have purchased the correct licence to screen each film. There are two main types of licence – a Theatrical (or Commercial) licence, which is for cinemas that sell individual tickets to each screening, and a Non-theatrical (or Non-commercial licence), which is for cinemas that show films to members only who have paid a membership fee. Find out more about licences community cinemas need.

Licences – for a venue
Every venue which films are screened in needs a licence. The exact licence required depends on the venue and where it is in the UK, but a Premises Licence is the one that community cinemas most commonly need. Find out more about licences community cinemas need.

M

Membership
Some community cinemas offer their audience the option of membership, either instead of or alongside individual ticket sales. Selling memberships at the start of each season means community cinemas can have more financial security and available cash, as well as a guaranteed audience.

MPLC – Movie Picture Licensing Corporation
MPLC is one of the major film distributors and offers a large database of movies for hire. Community cinema organisers can order films and arrange each title’s screening licence through the MPLC booking service. Discover more distributors here.

N

Non-theatrical or Non-commercial licence
A Non-theatrical (or Non-commercial) licence is a type of film licence. It’s suitable for cinemas that show films exclusively to members who have paid a membership fee, and who won’t be buying individual tickets. There is a flat rate to pay for the licence for each film (usually around £100) and there’s no need to file any box office returns after the screening. Find out more about licences community cinemas need.

Not-for-profit
An organisation that uses any extra funds it makes to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them to shareholders or members as profit or dividends.

O

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

P

Phono leads
Also called RCA cables, these are the leads that connect a DVD or Blu-ray player to a sound system’s amplifier.

Programming
Programming is the process of selecting the films to screen to an audience over a period of time. This process can be achieved by decisions made by the team that runs a cinema, by audience votes for films they would like to watch, or by a combination of both methods.

Projector
A projector is the device that projects a film’s digital images onto a screen. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

PRS (Performing Right Society) licence
Community cinemas need to ensure their venue has a PRS licence, which covers all the music that features in the soundtracks of the films they show. Many premises pay for this licence annually, so it may not be necessary for a community cinema to arrange it. Find out more about licences community cinemas need.

Q

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

R

Rural Cinema Pilot Scheme

The Rural Cinema Pilot Scheme was an initiative run by the BFI and the UK Film Council between 2010-2013 to bring digital projection equipment to three pilot areas of the UK where people had little access to cinemas. This successful project was the precursor to BFI Neighbourhood Cinema.

S

Specialised film
The BFI’s definition of ‘specialised film’ relates to those films that do not sit easily within a mainstream and highly commercial genre.

Surround sound
Surround sound refers to a sound system that involves three or more speakers placed in different positions around a room. It’s designed to give a rich, realistic sound that ‘surrounds’ the audience. The most common form used by cinemas is now 5.1 surround sound, which uses four speakers plus a subwoofer. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

T

TEN – Temporary Events Notice
This is a licence for a single public event, issued by local councils. Using a TEN can be a good way to license an individual cinema event, such as a test screening or a screening in a special one-off location. A TEN also allows the sale of alcohol and/or if you want to sell hot food between 11pm and 5am. Find out more about licences community cinemas need.

Theatrical or Commercial licence
A Theatrical (or Commercial) licence is a type of film licence that gives the licensee legal rights to screen the film. It’s suitable for cinemas that sell individual tickets to their screenings, either in advance and/or on the door. Cinemas using this film licence may also sell memberships. The cost of this licence depends on how many people are in your audience, and cinemas using this licence must file box office returns to show how many people attended and much money was taken in ticket sales. Find out more about licences community cinemas need.

Touring cinema
A touring cinema is a regional organisation that travels to different local venues to host film screenings. Touring cinemas offer a range of services, from fully setting up and running a cinema event to helping community cinemas book their films.

U

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

V

Vulnerable adults
Every community cinema venue should have acceptable safeguarding policies and procedures in place if their staff or volunteers may be working directly with children or vulnerable adults. A vulnerable adult is a person aged over 18 who is, or may be in need of community services due to age, illness or mental or physical disability, or who is, or may be unable to take care of himself/herself, or unable to protect himself/herself against significant harm or exploitation.

W

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

X

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

Y

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

Z

There aren’t any terms starting with this letter in the glossary yet.

Numbers

3.5mm stereo jack cable
A 3.5mm stereo jack cable connects a DVD or Blu-ray player to an amplifier. Find out more about the equipment community cinemas need.

35mm and 16mm film
35mm and 16mm are film formats. Films in this format arrive spooled in a canister to be projected through a film projector. 35mm or 16mm refers to the width of the film itself. Most cinemas, however, now screen from digital formats – such as DVD, Blu-ray or DCP – rather than from 35mm or 16mm film.