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Most U3As run film study groups in one of two ways:

1. The group meets in a room in a private home, or a hall, where a film is shown and discussed.

2 The members of the group visit a local cinema either as a group or individually to watch a pre-agreed film. The group then meets later in a private room or hall for discussion.

Equipment
If showing a film you will need appropriate equipment for the size of the group. A large TV with DVD/video player may be sufficient or a digital projector can be used with a laptop or DVD player connection to show the film on a large screen.  You might require amplifiers or speakers and black out facilities if using a hall.

Obtaining Films
Members may have their own copies which they are willing to lend. Films can be rented from a shop, library or an online service such as Lovefilm.Com
The Resource Centre in the U3A National office has a selection of material on the history of film, filmmaking techniques and the work of various directors.

Ideas for programmes
There are any number of themes for programmes but popular ideas in U3A groups are:
•       The work of an individual director
•       Genre- romances, musicals, film noir, westerns, science fiction etc.
•       Films from various countries or studios e.G. Ealing comedies
•       Films from novels, with scope for a combined book and film group.
•       Foreign language films
•       Star pairings – Tracy & Hepburn, Hope & Crosby

Licensing

The Third  Age Trust has taken out a licence which will cover U3As to show films  made by the 900 studios covered by MPLC (The Motion Picture Licensing Company). Details of the participating studios can be found at http://themplc.co.uk/file/MPLCU3AProducersList.pdf.  

The remainder of the studios are covered by Filmbankmedia and The Trust has negotiated an extremely favourable rate for this licence of £60 per annum, which will start on 1st April. You can see the  list of studios at http://www.filmbankmedia.com/licences/pvsl/pvsl-participating-studios/.

If you wish to take this licence, you can complete an online form, the link to which you will find under national mailings in the members area of the website or just send a cheque made payable to The Third age Trust with a covering note. 

If you show films in public to your members you are strongly recommended to take this licence out so that you are totally covered.

Payment
No charge should ever be made by any U3A for viewing films. It should be made quite clear that any monies requested from group members are to cover hall hire or refreshments only. Under no circumstances are you allowed to make any profit from showing films.

Advertising – a word of warning
The titles of films you are viewing in an educational study group should be circulated only within the group. Such titles should not be included in something like a newsletter which might end up in the public domain which could include a doctor’s surgery or a local library.

Sources of information

  • A film listing book such as ‘The Radio Times Guide to Films’ or a Halliwell’s guide is invaluable, usually giving a short critique of virtually every worthwhile film and listing a director’s or actor’s films.
  • David Thomson’s books ‘Have You Seen….? (A personal introduction to about 1000 films)’ (pub. Allen Lane) and ‘The New Biographical Dictionary of Film’, (pub. Little, Brown).
  • (Auto)biographies of directors and actors.
  • General film history books such as ‘The Cinema Book’ (a B.F.I. Publication, ISBN no. 0-85170-144-2, edited by Pam Cook and ‘A Short History of the Movies’ by Gerald Mast & Bruce F. Kawin, published by Allyn & Bacon, ISBN no. 0-205-29685-8. Again, keep an eye on charity shops.
  • Websites such as the Internet Movie Database (WWW.imdb.Com) or just Google the name of the film or director.

Interconnecting our groups.
 I hope, as a result of this document, to form a contact list of all Film Group leaders to exchange ideas.