A few pointers to get you thinking:
Your venue will need to be at least 30ft from front to back (the width is usually less important)
It will need to have adequate space for a cinema screen (15ft clearance)
You should be able to black out your venue during screenings
There must be access to at least one 13amp mains socket
Your venue will need public liability insurance (and potentially employer's liability insurance, if working with volunteers). You'll need to make sure you have insurance to cover the transport and use of the cinema kit whilst in your possession. Give your insurer a call and they can help you to arrange this.
If you are looking to make a profit from your film screenings on a regular basis, your local authority may ask you to get a Premises Licence (some village halls already have a Premises Licence and you would just need to confirm with the council that you can screen films as one of your activities).
If you are running the screenings as a non-profit community event - aiming to cover just your overheads and costs - you no longer need a Premises Licence. Here is some more info from BFI
Your venue might also need to get a music licence from PRS, to cover any music copyright / soundtrack from the film. This licence is an annual payment to PRS: www.prsformusic.com. Their Community Buildings Tariff costs around £50 for the year. Your venue may well have this licence already but it's worth checking!
If you want to screen a film in public you need to get a Screening Licence/Film Licence. This is the case even if you are not charging for tickets, are running a charity event or screening to a film club.
You have to pay for a Screening Licence because the screening of films for entertainment purposes outside the cinema or home constitutes a ‘public performance’ and requires permission from the copyright holder (the film studios). There is a copyright licence fee for every screening: The Screening Licence.
The arrangement of the Screening Licence is the responsibility of the organiser of the screening.
The majority of Screening Licences can be ordered through companies such as:
Filmbankmedia (using their Single Title Film Licence each time you have a screening)
Moviola – a small company based in the South West, that supports rural venues around the UK
Independent Cinema Office – a source of info and help, plus holds film licences for some films
Specialist, British and archive films can be sourced from the British Film Institute (BFI)
Have a look at their websites and search for the film titles that you might want to screen.
If you can’t find the film title you want to screen and need the studio name to book it, or you want to know when a film might be released on DVD, try Launching Films.
You’ll then pay a minimum of £83 + VAT or 35% of your ticket income for the film licence, which is payable after the event. You pay whichever is the greater amount (i.e. either £83 + VAT or 35% of your takings).
You’ll pay a bit more for ‘early release’ or ‘pre-release’ films that are available around six weeks before they appear as DVDs in the shops.
Buying the DVD / Blu-Ray
You’ll need to order the DVD from the distributor if you’re getting an ‘early release’ film. Bear in mind that postage and packing of the DVD from Filmbankmedia costs around £14 + VAT
If you aren’t getting an early release or pre-release film, we recommend that you buy your own DVD or Blu-Ray of your chosen film online or from local retailers. Once you have your Screening Licence, you can use any legal (i.e. not pirate) copy of the film that you choose.
If you aren’t charging for tickets…
If you aren’t going to charge for tickets to see the film and if you aren’t advertising the film title in public, you can get the annual MPLC Umbrella Licence® from the Motion Picture Licensing Company (MPLC). This licence is only available to village halls and venues where film is one of many activities on offer.
If you hold this licence, you can screen most films from their studios using any legal copy of the film (such as DVDs you have at home, or have bought online). You pay a one-off, annual fee (£150+) for as many screenings as you like over the year but you can’t charge for tickets and there are restrictions on how and where you advertise the film title:
1. No commercial advertisement may be made of the film title, but you may advertise through notice boards, newsletters, email circulation etc
2. No direct income may be made to view the film but you may – 1) Charge a ticket price that includes food, drink, raffle etc or 2) Have no entry fee, but raise funds through the sale of food, drink, raffle ticket etc at each film event.
3. The licence is only applicable to the named organisation and location.
4. The films shown must be a legal copy of that film.
1. Allows the use of legally rented or purchased DVD copies- either your own library or those purchased/rented.
2. Unlimited showings all year round.
3. No reporting of title use or audience figures.
4. Low administration as the licence agreement renews automatically.
Bear in mind that this licence is only available if you meet the criteria set out above.
To check whether your screenings might be eligible for this licence, contact MPLC’s licensing team on (0)1323 649647 or check out www.themplc.co.uk