Matt Kitson, Driftwood Cinema

Matt Kitson outside one of his social enterprise community cinema events

What does your social enterprise do?

Driftwood Cinema takes the cinema experience to a multitude of venues; community halls, schools, commercial spaces and the great outdoors.  I create community lead and centred film events, showing classic films alongside local historical short films, reaching those audiences who cannot make it to the fixed base cinemas in the region.

The workshops help people to record the social events and everyday life of Dumfries and Galloway using their smart phones or video cameras, edit them and then show them on the big screen ahead of the main feature; building up a social archive of life and living in these areas.

Nowadays we have a great capacity to film everyday life and events in reasonable quality on our smart phones, but very little of it gets beyond the person who filmed it, or edited down to a short film that others might be interested to watch.   These clips are the social archive for the future.

Why are you passionate about this cause?

Film and filming are part of me.  I love looking back at old footage and started to realise that with the advent of digital cameras, less and less good archival footage is making it into the public domain. Public transport, disparate small villages and public funding cutbacks have all had a significant impact on community cohesion and more and more communities are facing the closure of their public venues.

Regular film screenings and workshops are one way of helping to keep these community venues alive. I was keen to find a way to bring film to the community and at the same time to create a community events to bring people together.

What was your biggest challenge in starting your social enterprise?

Networks and support have been the biggest challenges (outside of money, which is always a challenge).  Setting up in a rural community is isolating by definition, so finding out who can help, and how to develop support for the venture is time consuming.

When I first starting looking at setting up a Social Enterprise the structure of the organisation was a also major concern.  Funding from foundations, charities and the lottery concentrates around charities or community groups, excluding organisations without a board, or that are not a registered or constituted a charity.  Finding funding sources that recognise a Social Enterprise within their own constitution proved harder than finding the idea in the first place.

How has the School for Social Entrepreneurs supported you?

The first time I met all of my SSE cohort, I realised that there are people out there trying to do this and that they are facing the same issues as me. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely place, particularly in a rural community.  The SSE has provided me with an immediate ‘family’ of peers; a group to talk to about the issues and concerns of starting out.  Having a mentor has also been a massive advantage, someone to talk things through, to listen, to prompt and above all just be on your side. For anyone thinking about starting up a Social Enterprise my advice is get all of the support that you can and the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneur Programme provides you with an immediate peer support group, practical advice from people who have been there, a mentor and some cash.  Who wouldn’t want all of that?

What are your plans for the future?

Long term I would like to see this enterprise develop to take on staff and increase the number of venues where we can deliver the benefits of community cinema and workshop events.  One day maybe a community produced short film will make it to the Edinburgh Film Festival?

What would your advice be to a budding social entrepreneur?

Get all of the support that you can and the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneur Programme provides you with an immediate peer support group, practical advice from people who have been there, a mentor and some cash.  Who wouldn’t want all of that?

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