NIA CHILDS, EVENTS MANAGER AT EVERYMAN CINEMAS
What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been working as an events manager at Everyman for just over a year, after working on film festivals for five years. I look after the events programme, finding and managing special events, including Q&As, film festivals and live performances.
Why do you think you are an Events Manager?
I’m an events manager because I enjoy supporting and exhibiting film. My role means that I’m often working with first-time filmmakers which is easily the most enjoyable thing about my work, but I also love giving people a reason to come to the cinema, rather than watching something at home on their laptop, and at Everyman it’s something that we’ve always focused on.
If forced to give one tip to new people coming through what would it be?
Be supportive and kind to people – I think I would say the same to anyone in any part of the industry, but being supportive and helpful and kind is paramount. Talent and experience are obviously vital, but it’s beneficial to everyone if we all help each other and are just generally pleasant. I’m in a constant cycle of asking favours and giving favours – it means that we all gain a better understanding of how different parts of the industry work. It’s so important.
What tip would you give a newcomer entering your realm so that they might avoid pitfalls?
I guess just use your time wisely. Film/events is a really popular area to work in and it’s not just something you can walk in to. Jobs don’t come up that often. If it’s something you really want, then organise your own screenings; clue yourself up on how relationships work with cinemas, distributors and the audience; volunteer on film festivals; and only give your time for free if you are truly learning a skill that you didn’t have before. Working for free is a controversial issue but it can actually be a good thing if you’re learning a skill and gaining experience – and not financially crippling yourself!
Tell us about where you come from and how it filters into your work?
I come from a very small, sheltered town on the Hampshire-Surrey border. No disrespect to the people who live there, but I hate it. It was only after leaving (which was my goal from about five years old) that I actually saw the world around me. I hadn’t really thought about it until now, but a lot of my interest and focus in my career has been on getting underrepresented people’s stories told on our screens: people whose stories are often left out of the mainstream narrative. I think coming from a place where nobody seemed overly concerned with anyone who wasn’t like them forms part of my interest. I don’t think you can have a clear view on the world if you don’t listen to stories that aren’t yours, and I think we’re failing as an industry when there are people who never see their stories told on screen. I want that to change.
Tell us about the latest film/exhibition/book/public figure/article to have inspired you.
Andrea Arnold and basically anything she says or does. I’ve followed her work from day one. Her skill as a director goes without saying, but what her work means within the landscape of British cinema – she’s one of the greatest directors of all time. Her ability to tell stories and the love she feels for her characters is inspiring. I have an image of Mia from Fish Tank on my business card, and my desktop at work, and my phone screen saver… I’m glad I’ve never met her, I’d be really weird.
What frustrates you about what you do?
It’s not something I see too much in my current role, but there’s nothing I find more frustrating than meeting talented filmmakers who don’t do their research. The talent is the hard part. If you have that, then you need to spend time learning about how you’re going to get your film out there: is [the solution] a festival film? If so, which festivals would maximise exposure for your film? Do you need a distributor? If so, how do you go about getting one? Who is your audience, and how are you going to market your film to them? Particularly as a female filmmaker, there are so many organisations out there that can help, and the information is freely available on the internet. Sadly, there are people out there who prey on ignorance. If someone is asking you for money – please, do your research and find out if you need to part with your cash. More often than not, you won’t.
How do you overcome this?
If you are making a film, then part of that process is thinking about who that film is for and what you want to happen to it. If you’re happy just putting stuff online for your friends, then that’s fine, but if you want your film to be seen by lots of people, then part of your process must be research. You can be the most talented filmmaker of all time but that won’t matter if nobody knows about you. Make time to invite people for coffee and ask for advice, look online, plan your strategy, work festival submissions in to your budget – all of these things are key.
Do you believe in the ‘female gaze’ and what does that mean to you?
I have this odd aversion to feminist film theory. Is that really bad? I’ve obviously read Laura Mulvey and enjoy reading articles written by talented friends and colleagues, but I find a lot of academia leaves out such a huge portion of people – people who, like me, don’t really view the world through that lens. It’s only recently I’ve realised that you’re not a bad feminist if you just don’t find that stuff easy. I had to ask two friends what the theory actually meant and, despite them both giving me very clear answers, I just sort of stared blankly at my screen before realising that it’s not a part of the feminist conversation that is meant for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m smart (I think) but I get far more out of talking to the average woman on the street than I do reading about feminism. It’s just the way my brain is wired.
Any final insights for our readers?
I’m always happy to collaborate and chat about upcoming projects, or just give general advice, so feel free to drop me a line any time.