With 40 years of film industry experience, seats on committees including at Bafta and an accolade from WFTV, Clare Binns is a driving force in film distribution.
Currently Joint Managing Director of Picturehouse Cinemas, she directs the programming policies of a network of movie theatres across the United Kingdom.
Here she tells us why she is optimistic about the industry and why women directors make good business sense.
On the importance of female voices
I’ve always gone out of my way to look for women directors because I think what women particularly do when they make films is they tell stories for not just part of society. They are more rounded stories that everybody can identify with. It makes more sense to have inclusive films that talk to everyone rather than films that just talk to 50-year-old men.
On branching out into distribution
I was going to festivals and seeing very good films that weren’t getting releases. So the first few films we did pick up, I thought, ‘all these have audiences and we’ve got cinemas. It makes sense for us to distribute them’.
But the other reason is that, often, as a cinema company that shows a broad range of films, there are times in the year when you don’t have films that your audiences want to see, so it’s makes sense if you can have some control over the films that are going through your sites.
On how Netflix is changing the landscape
People are always going to want to be in the cinema. If you’re at home watching a film on the TV it’s a different experience. You go and make a cup of tea. It’s just a different thing and I do believe that people will always want to go out together to enjoy a film on the big screen. I’m very optimistic.
On the importance of passion as much as commercial value
It’s certainly very important in the deal and as the sales agents, the producers and the directors look at the deal, obviously money comes into it enormously, but at the same time I think [it’s] the passion and care and that the company that’s releasing it can do the best job to the film.
On being an outlet for breakthrough talent
We’ve just bought a film in Sundance, The Last Tree by Shola Amoo. He had made a short film and then a low-budget feature and this is his next feature. This is going to get a big release at Picturehouse and he will go on to have a really good career in cinema. But he made short films. He’s been at it a long time and he’s got there. He’s made a fantastic film.
On working with a major cinema chain
I think that independent cinema’s in a very good place. We may be owned by Cineworld but we’ve got an independent view. What Cineworld has done for us is it helped us with distribution. It’s allowed us to build.
We built two cinemas recently and we’re opening another one in April. We’re opening more in the next few years and that’s thanks to Cineworld’s support. So I would not say that we are an independent chain but were in an independent thinking chain of cinemas or group of cinemas.
On independent cinema today
There’s room for everybody. The Rio Dalston is just fantastic as [is the] Hackney Picturehouse and I’m delighted that there’s a lot of independent cinemas out there doing their own thing. It can only be good for the culture of cinema.
On collaborating with Birds-Eye-View
Birds Eye View is a fantastic organisation because, again, it is helping promote films by women, for women, in order to talk about women. We need to get that message out there. It’s a great way allowing people to watch films, to talk about films and talk about their experience.
This interview was conducted by producer director, Sheila Marshall. Her documentary “Right Between Your Ears”, about belief and cognitive dissonance, won Best Feature Documentary season award for the Lift-Off Global Network film festival, and has broadcast on ABC Australia and in Brazil. She is currently in post for short film The Car and in production for documentary Nobody Left to Hate, the story of a social experiment that took on racial strife in desegregated schools in 1970s Texas.