Preview screenings and the spaces of an emerging local cinema trade in Scotland


Velez-Serna MA (2016) Preview screenings and the spaces of an emerging local cinema trade in Scotland. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 36 (3), pp. 285-304.

Selecting and booking films to make up a programme that suited a particular audience was a crucial skill for exhibitors in the competitive conditions of the early cinema trade in Britain. This article argues that access to trade previews of the films was necessary for this choice to be meaningful, and it studies the emergence and regularisation of trade shows in Glasgow, Scotland, as an indicator of the forms of agency retained by independent cinema managers and renters. By documenting its different local manifestations up to 1920, the trade preview is shown to be a particular reception context, with its own spaces and codes of conduct. Furthermore, in a thriving non-metropolitan film trade, such as the Scottish one, it was an important social routine where informal networks could be nurtured and information shared. Thus, by looking at the micro-cosmos of the private projection room, it is possible to get a glimpse of how the trade functioned on the ground and how it understood its social position during a time of great upheaval, before it conformed to a more centralised, institutional model.

distribution; film booking; early cinema

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television: Volume 36, Issue 3

Publication date31/12/2016
Publication date online10/06/2015
PublisherTaylor and Francis