people silhouetted in front of a screen

Most of us love to watch a movie, or curl up with a good book! Sometimes we lament that they are finished, having grown to love the characters and become invested in their lives.

Watching a film with someone or finding that a friend has read the same book instantly opens up conversation – “Didn’t you just love it when they found out…..?” “What did you think about……?” “Didn’t it break your heart when….?”

What if our church communities were starting these conversations?
Book clubs are regularly hosted in libraries, people’s homes and other community spaces. Church groups could also offer hospitality and perhaps a chance to explore some of life’s bigger questions which arise out of the life events and stories within the pages.
For those of us who struggle to get through a book, or who enjoy the visual storytelling found in movies, why not have a film club? Or occasional film nights through the year?

This short, helpful document from the Methodist Church highlights some of some things to think about as we are thinking about regularly watching a film together…
“How to run a film club”

Often choosing the book or movie is the biggest hurdle!
Damaris have some excellent film guides on their website which present themes and questions which you might want to think through after watching the film together. The website also has a selection of topics (scroll down, on the left) to help you select films by theme.

Reel Issues by the Bible Society also have film discussion guides you may be interested in, with the films listed alphabetically.

The Resources Centre based at Cuthbert House (in the Diocesan Offices) has a good starting place for movies and books with a wide range of big themes and conversation starters – check out their catalogue here.

Licensing:

This is the bit that confuses people!

If you are charging for your ‘cinema’, you are moving into another licensing situation from a domestic, shared experience*. This then becomes a commercial endeavour and the license is very different. (Please see advice from Cinema For All: https://cinemaforall.org.uk/advice/starting-up-a-film-society/  )

But for those of us who are planning to sit around a lounge, a small hall or in church, we would need a ‘non-theatrical license’. This means we can’t make a profit from the screening and we are not calling it a cinema.

Most churches are already familiar with CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) as we need their license to play any music outside of a worship service.
Instead of contacting the film producers each time you want to show a film, you can purchase an annual Church Video Licence from CCLI which permits you to show a huge range of Christian and secular films as often as you wish throughout the year, within worship settings. When combined with a Music Church License we can enjoy a full movie for entertainment purposes.
It is definitely worth the minimal investment! Think of the holiday clubs, all age events, youth activities, lent courses and more which could benefit from media input…
Here is the CCLI guidance on what is included in their licenses.

If you plan on starting a multi-media conversation within your parish, please get in touch for help or to invite someone from the Mission and Ministry Team to watch a movie – We may even bring the popcorn!

*A domestic situation may be a youth group or small group in a church hall, it doesn’t have to be in a home. The situation depends on how it is advertised, whether you’re charging, which film it is and the purpose of the event.