Gateway Takes Popular Family Series Virtual
Chris Hamel, president and programmer of Gateway Film Center, hopes the theater will reopen soon. In the meantime, though, GFC has been experimenting with different virtual opportunities to share and promote films. Most recently, it re-launched its popular series From Book to Film as an online program: From Book to Film from Home.
A years-long collaboration with Columbus Metropolitan Library, the series screened popular family films based on children’s books, offering free admission with a library card.
Without that option, GFC is instead providing recommended viewing lists via their website, linking to streaming films through subscription sites or, whenever possible, the library’s own free streaming option, Kanopy.
Hamel takes some questions on the program.
Columbus Underground: What’s the primary goal with this program?
Chris Hamel: From Book to Film is about celebrating and fostering a love of film (and reading) from a young age. This series features films that adults in our community might or might not be familiar with and provides an opportunity to revisit them, consider them in a new light, and share them with the people in their life. We believe a love of film is tied to a love of learning. And, that curiosity, when encouraged and guided, drives empathy and change.
CU: Why did it seem important to offer the program this year, even though the theater itself isn’t open yet?
CH: Our programming is driven by discovery, to start conversations and generate excitement. So, even though we can’t get together in person, we wanted to make sure we were offering a new version of this program that recognizes the challenges of the pandemic, explores new opportunities in the film exhibition industry, and also presents a sampling of the Film Center’s program, even if it’s without the moviegoing experience for this summer.
CU: Are there ways that having a virtual program opens up opportunities?
CH: Absolutely. A virtual program is not bound by the same rules of theatrical exhibition. It’s been one of the most exciting parts of developing this From Home edition. One example is in availability – several films we’ve included for this edition have not traditionally been available (or will never be available) to license and screen theatrically, despite our eagerness. This virtual program approach gives us a chance to feature those stories alongside some returning From Book to Film favorites.
CU: The library is still a major partner for the program—you’re even emphasizing their Kanopy platform and making it easier than ever to get a library card. Why do the library and GFC make such great partners?
CH: We are incredibly lucky to have an institution like the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Columbus. We, the Film Center, learn so much from them, both the people we work with for this series and the organization as a whole. Our central Ohio community is a better place to live because of the work of CML. And, our missions are very compatible – from amplifying the voices of storytellers to fostering a lifelong love of learning.
CU: What are you most excited about with the virtual program?
CH: This approach allows for our selections to be presented in an entirely new context, alongside other recommendations and the nuances of each platform. And, that’s exciting for me.
It’s not without its challenges, though – the loss of the in-person, theatrical experience this summer has been difficult. We’re adapting and finding new ways of engaging with our audience. I am incredibly excited to do that work and see what families discover because of this series.
CU: Anything else we should know?
CH: We will reopen, hopefully soon, and when we do, virtual programming will continue and continue to improve.
Check out each week’s lineup at Gateway’s website.