founder of 'Your Local Cinema .com' has recently been voted winner of
the Daily Mail 'Enterprising Young Brits: People’s Choice Award',
at a ceremony honouring the outstanding contributions of young people.
did you manage to fit this around going to school? - how many hours
a week did you spend campaigning?
Local Cinema .com' wasn't always a busy, national information service.
Only in the last few years has it really become popular. So while I
was at school I was able to manage it - working a few hours after school,
and sometimes at the weekend. Probably only 10 hours a week to start
a nutshell, I started a petition, in the hope that I would get a few
thousand names - people that agreed that the cinema industry should
install a subtitle system in some cinemas and enable people with hearing
problems to enjoy the cinema experience. I trialed the petition in my
school, with a dozen deaf students. The petition got over a thousand
names from that school alone. So my parents and I launched the 'Your
Local Cinema .com' website to publicise the petition nationally.
you still in education or is this your full time job now?
am studying at College now for half the week, and working for 'Your
Local Cinema .com' for the the other half. So it's a part-time job.
My younger brother, Dad and Mum help out too. If they didn't help I
would have to work full time, and couldn't attend College, so I'm very
grateful for any help I get.
you ever imagine that yourlocalcinema.com would be so successful?
didn't expect my involvement to go further than taking the petition
to the UK Film Council (who spend millions of pounds annually on film-related
projects). The plan was to persuade them to seriously investigate subtitled
cinema. I was quite prepared to say to myself "Well, I've done
my best, showed the film industry that there are people out there, like
me, who need a little help to enjoy cinema".
then I became a little concerned that things may not move quick enough,
or stall, or nothing may happen at all, so I decided to keep on campaigning,
building up contacts etc.
Eventually the UK Film Council hired the BFI to look into the matter,
held focus groups, meetings, worked out costs and eventually produced
a report which recommended that around a hundred cinemas - around a
fifth of the UK total - should purchase and install a subtitle system.
They also recommended that my website and information service - which
by now had become 'the' place for all things 'accessible cinema' related
- be supported and funded by the film industry.
in 2004, after more than three years of campaigning for better access,
but not just moaning - actually working with the film industry - my
company was hired by the industry to be the 'marketing arm' of cinema
access. It's our job to round up people and get them into subtitled
are your plans now? have you achieved everything you set out to do?
What does the future hold?
more than 300 UK cinemas have a subtitle & audio description system.
There are around 500 subtitled (and thousands of audio described) shows
a week nationwide - all the latest films. It's been a collaborative
effort. My company has worked with many areas of the film industry,
as well as the main organisations representing people with hearing or
sight problems to ensure the UK leads the world in this area.
according to feedback from the public there is still a LOT to do. My
service receives a lot of great feedback from the public. It works on
behalf of the film industry, but is also an advocate for the public.
We deal with representatives of the cinema/film business on their behalf.
We are members of the film industry's 'Disability Working Group', a
collection of representatives from cinema, distribution and technology
companies, as well as representatives from the main charities for people
with hearing or sight problems. This group meets regularly to review
and plan the future of 'accessible' cinema.
Feedback from the public helps us to decide the future of accessible
cinema. The top feedback item is, and always has been 'not enough subtitled
shows'. So we need to work on solving that issue.
like more people to visit our feedback page, read some of the letters
and moans, and please leave some feedback:
year we will be upgrading the website to include more subtitled trailers
and clips, delivered more smoothly, via flash technology, rather than
our current quicktime standard, as well as including many more audio
described clips. We don't have enough at the moment. We will also be
adding better search features.
the website is just a part of our service. We have been talking to industry
contacts about providing accessible versions of official movie websites.
Mini-sites that contain subtitled and audio described trailers, complete
subtitled and described UK listings, text accessible to blind people,
voiceovers etc. We are also looking into making audio described soundtracks
as common as audio books, available on iTunes etc.
our biggest challenge and goal is to invent subtitle spectacles'! Like
3-D specs - lightweight, throwaway, but rather than provide a 3-D effect,
they provide subtitles, on the specs, which only the wearer can see.
The subtitles are on the cinema screen, but so faint that they can't
be seen. Only wearers of special 'polarised' spectacles can see them.
like this would enable a person with hearing problems to attend a choice
of many more subtitled shows. A film can screen four or five times a
day in say, screen number one, of a cinema. It would be unacceptable
to have many of those shows subtitled - most people simply don't like
subtitles, that's a fact. So most cinemas only show one or two subtitled
shows a week. 'Subtitle spectacles' would mean that all shows, all day,
all week could be subtitled.
related news/media items HERE