An Interview with Isobel Harrop, Cinema Assistant and former Young Programmer

Isobel Harrop is one of our Cinema Assistants and was previously on our Young Programmers scheme. In this interview, she shares her experience of being involved in Young Programmers, as well as giving an exclusive insight into a brand new season of films that she is programming for Storyhouse.

Before you became a Cinema Assistant, you were on Storyhouse’s Young Programmers scheme. Can you tell us a bit about your experience of being a Young Programmer?

I joined Young Programmers at the end of 2017, after I had graduated from studying English at university. While I was at uni, I had realised that I liked films at the cinema maybe more than I liked books, so I was looking for something to do that was related to films and cinema.

I was working in a multi-plex cinema, but I was wondering, what else can I do? I tried film-making, but it wasn’t really for me. Then an advert for Young Programmers popped up the day before the deadline to apply – it was such serendipity – and I thought it sounded really interesting!

I really loved it. Film making wasn’t for me but I love watching films, and this was a different way of getting involved in films that maybe people don’t know about as much.

Film programming is basically planning or putting on events for films. When I was part of Young Programmers, we organised a season of films for February 2018 on the theme of love. We chose lesser-known films because part of being a film programmer is showing people something that they might not have seen before. We also tried to make it about different kinds of love, so we picked a film called Our Little Sister, about familial love and sisterhood, and another film called Stand By Me, about friendship between young boys.

I would really recommend it if you’re a young person who’s into film. This is another way that you can share film, that isn’t just making them or writing about them, it’s something different!

Did Young Programmers help to prepare you for the Cinema Assistant role?

I think it did, in the sense that I didn’t know about Storyhouse before, and so it was my opportunity to come and learn about Storyhouse as a place.

I’ve also been given opportunities to use that programming experience now that I’m working here. The main role of a Cinema Assistant is obviously front of house, and making sure that everything is running smoothly, but I’m really passionate about the films that we put on, and that makes the job much more rewarding.

The great thing about Storyhouse being an independent cinema is that we can pretty much show whatever we want. A lot of the multi-plex cinemas are showing the same thing all of the time, and we can choose to show something completely different or something that you can’t see anywhere else.

Can you please share some of your highlights of being a Cinema Assistant?

I always love talking to people when they come out of the film to see what they thought about it. That’s the other good thing about being an independent cinema or a smaller cinema, we’ve only got one screen, so you get to know the people who come in and there’s a sense of community.

I also hosted a Q&A screening with the director and producer of a film called A Deal with the Universe. That was really fun! Again, giving audiences the chance to hear from the filmmaker isn’t something you tend to get in those bigger multi-plex cinemas, so that felt really exciting.

Storyhouse is a genuine independent cinema and our Film and Digital Programme Manager Nicky Beaumont programmes new films every week. Of the upcoming films that we will be showing, which are you most excited about?

There’s one called Everything Everywhere All At Once, which has just come out in America and I have seen a lot of buzz about it online. I’ve watched the trailer and it looks really creative, strange, funny and weird! I don’t know much more about it, but I want to keep it that way before I watch it!

Storyhouse has received funding for you to programme your own season of films at Storyhouse, have you started to think about what films you’d like to put on?

I don’t know how much to reveal, but I think I’m going to go down a route that’s a bit more unusual for Storyhouse. It’s going to be a bit cult and a bit fun. It’s also going to reflect some of my interests, so it’s going to be quite woman-focused and include LGBT+ representation.

UPDATE: Isobel’s film season has now been created. Find out more about Film Feels Curious: My Forgotten Favourites films and events (including a record fair, a pop quiz and more!) here.

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