A brand new film club for local people with autism and associated conditions was launched in early 2022. The concept of The Spectrum Film Club was to screen a diverse range of popular movies in a more relaxing environment.
The club was planned by a committee of local autistic residents with support from the Local Area Co-ordinators from the Social Work Department of East Dunbartonshire HSCP.
The aim was to hold regular film nights which were accessible and specifically geared towards autistic people from East Dunbartonshire and their families.
The purchase of a cinema screen and projector was made possible with funds from Screen Scotland.
The club also received guidance from the organisation Cinema For All to prepare for the screenings. They were enrolled onto a programme called Access Launchpad which supports new community cinemas getting started and covers the cost of the first screening. Ellie Ragdale, Community Impact Officer, at Cinema for All said, “From the moment we met with Spectrum Cinema we were bowled over by their ambition and dedication to bring accessible screenings to children and families with autism in East Dunbartonshire.
“At Cinema For All it is our goal to make cinema accessible for everyone and we want to provide as many groups as possible in the UK with confidence to put on their own screenings in their community. We assisted Spectrum Cinema with learning about licences needed to screen films, venue and equipment and how to make their screenings special with exciting extra elements. However, they were the ones that spoke to their community, listened and went the extra mile in every area.
“Within a few months, they had ran their first screening successfully, created a fun membership card and accessibility packs to make their screenings as welcoming as possible. It is fantastic to see another community cinema thrive, as social gatherings like this create and affordable shared experience and lasting memories.”
To promote the launch, a range of marketing material was produced by the Council’s Communications Team which incorporated an original design of “Projector Pete” by local autistic resident Ben Gray.
Following a successful pilot, the first official screening took place on Tuesday 15 March 2022 with the featured film being The Princess Bride. Subsequent screenings have been held on a the third Tuesday of each month and listings are displayed on a dedicated web page on the Council’s website and promoted through the Council’s social media channels.
Caroline Sinclair, Chief Officer of East Dunbartonshire HSCP, welcomed the initiative, saying at the time, "Congratulations to the Committee for all their hard work over the last year in bringing this to fruition. This is a terrific idea. A movie screening is a great night out but can be noisy - potentially causing issues for people with autism and sensory impairments.
“By launching a dedicated film club we can ensure a more relaxed, calm atmosphere - helping to make people feel more comfortable and increasing accessibility. I hope people continue to support the sessions as we move forward.”
An award was also received from The National Lottery Community Fund to enable the group to have a successful first year. Films are selected by the committee and have included Jumanji, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Men in Black.
The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still, said: “National Lottery funding can make amazing things happen in local communities across the country. This project delivered by The Spectrum Film Club, is a great example of community activity in action, showing just what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause or to help others. National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is helping to support this vital work and to help communities thrive.”
During the events, members of staff are on hand and a “break-out room” is available for anyone who would like quiet time during the film.
Committee chair, Ed, introduces the film each month. He looks forward to coming together with other film fans to share what they think about each month’s movie. He said, “I enjoy the opportunity to confess how I truly feel about these movies.”
For those who are attending for the first time, there are various resources available on the East Dunbartonshire Council website including a “What to Expect” booklet and accompanying video, to prepare patrons for their visit and allay any worries they might have before they attend: